PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (July 21, 2010) – Fifteen former detainees were released from the Detention Facility in Parwan here July 17 after confirming their commitment to a peaceful way of life.
The men were released into the custody of their families and tribal elders during a release shura, which was held at the Rule of Law Center here. More than 100 family members, village elders and government officials made the trip to Parwan from provinces throughout Afghanistan.
Local leaders signed guarantor statements indicating their intent to monitor the released detainees, support their return to the community and supervise their conduct. The guarantor statement is an informal, not legally binding document that is worded to align with the Pashtunwali code.
“If you want bring peace, releasing detainees is the right way. I pledge that these detainees will not get together with the insurgents against the Afghan government or the U.S.,” said Abdul Wali, from the Logar province deputy council.
Shareefa Zarmaatee, a parliamentarian from Paktia province, spoke during the shura on behalf of the detainees she accepted into her community and their commitment to peace. After pledging to support her “detainee brothers from Paktia province” as well as those from neighboring provinces, Zarmaatee raised concerns she has about ongoing military operations.
Vice Adm. Robert Harward, Joint Task Force 435 commander, spoke next and used the opportunity to address Zarmaatee’s comments. After thanking the tribal leaders and family members for attending, Harward explained the importance of the shuras is to not only return the released detainees to their villages, but also to bring everyone together to see and be a part of the process.
Harward acknowledged Zarmaatee’s concerns, stressed the importance of the ongoing partnership between U.S. and Afghan forces, and explained how release shuras can be a part of the shared solution.
“We are trying to stop the fighting and the war. And that’s what this whole process here today is about,” Harward said. “These men we’re returning to you have made a pledge not to return to the fight and you have made the pledge with them, and this is how we believe we will have peace in Afghanistan.”
The Afghan-led program for releasing detainees was implemented earlier this year and stresses the importance of reintegration into Afghan society. Currently, eligible detainees receive literacy and vocational training at the DFIP that will assist them when they return to their villages.
Since the program began in January, more than 150 people have been released from the DFIP during the formal ceremonies after signing a pledge to renounce violence.
Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Mohebur Rahman serves the task force as both the Commander, Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for Oversight of Detention and Reintegration, and the Afghan deputy commander.
JTF-435 is committed to safe, secure, humane care and custody of detainees consistent with international law. While in JTF-435’s care, detainees may also receive literacy and vocational training to enable them to peacefully reintegrate into their villages and society after they are released.