Changing of the Guard

As the Northern Alliance routs Taliban soldiers in Kabul and other cities, the news media has been uncannily silent about the Northern Alliance's own history of ruthless human rights violations. "Throughout the civil war in Afghanistan, the major factions on all sides have repeatedly committed serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including killings, indiscriminate aerial bombardment and shelling, direct attacks on civilians, summary executions, rape, persecution on the basis of religion or ethnicity, the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, and the use of antipersonnel landmines," notes a press backgrounder from Human Rights Watch, which also provides a series of policy recommendations aimed at preventing Afghanistan's incoming rulers from continuing "the lethal cycle of impunity."