The hunger strike by members of People’s Peace Movement in front of the Nangarhar governor’s office in Jalalabad city entered its third day on Tuesday but they are still insisting on addressing of their demand which is allowing the group to launch gatherings and rallies in the eastern city.
According to local officials, the peace activists have been banned from launching rallies due to security issues.
“It is 46 hours that 85 people observing hunger strike,” said Bismillah Watandost, member of the group. “We urge the local officials to clarify it that why they are not allowing us for our activities.”
He said the Nangarhar governor has directed relevant offices in the province to prevent any gathering by the movement – which so far has held many rallies and gatherings in Kabul, Balkh, Kunar and other provinces in the quest for peace. The movement, initially called the Helmand Peace Convoy, started their first rally last year after a deadly bombing claimed more than a dozen lives in Helmand. So far, they have launched many gatherings and have got a response from the Afghan government and the international community, but they said last week that they are yet to receive any response from the Taliban.
The main demand of the peace movement during their rallies is ceasefire and face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
Photos released on social media from the peace activists show that some of them have been taken to hospitals for treatment as they refrain end their strike.
Another peace activist, Pacha Khan Mawladad, said some local officials including the provincial police chief and head of the National Directorate of Security in Nangarhar visited their sit-in camp on Monday night. “We gave them proofs which show the (peace activists’) gathering was disturbed,” he added.
Nangarhar governor Shah Mahmoud Miakhail, meanwhile, rejected the claims made by the peace movement members against him and other officials.
“We cannot force the people and cannot close people’s shops to attend the gathering,” the governor said. “It was a civil movement and the people themselves should attend enthusiastically. In Jalalabad city, people see lots of gatherings compared with other districts. When they (the peace activists) saw fewer people attended, they said why security forces search the people. But the search has to be done.”
A local journalist in Nangarhar, Jawed Razmand, said he and other reports wanted to cover the peace activists’ hunger strike in the province but they were prevented by security forces.
“Other reporters also came to cover the hunger strike. We were kept waiting for almost one hour but could not enter the area,” Razmand said.
The peace activists warned that they will not end their hunger strike unless local officials clearly respond to their demands.