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New Delhi: Photojournalist Danish Siddiqui’s parents Akhtar Siddiqui and Shahida Akhtar have filed a complaint against the Taliban – including six named leaders – before the International Criminal Court, saying that his targeted killing in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan must be probed.
The complaint has alleged that Danish’s killing was both a war crime and a crime against humanity. The crime against humanity charge, lawyer Avi Singh appearing for the family clarified at a press conference on Tuesday (March 22), was important given the Taliban’s long history of targeting civilians, including but not limited to journalists.
Danish was injured by shrapnel while embedded with the Afghan Special Forces on March 16, while covering the conflict for Reuters. He was taken to a mosque for medical treatment, and reportedly accidentally “left behind” in the confusion of the retreat. He was then allegedly captured, tortured and killed by the Taliban.
“Danish had very clear identification on him, his press card, his passport; he could not have been identified as a combatant. …we have independent corroboration that he was still illegally captured and tortured by the Taliban. In fact his bulletproof jacket was intact when it was returned to his family,” Singh told reporters.
“We have asked for an investigation against not just local commanders of the Taliban but also the leadership.” Targeting civilians and journalists in this manner cannot be allowed, Singh continued, and those responsible must be held to account.
“This was not an isolated incident. The Taliban’s military code of conduct, published as the Layha, has a policy of attacking civilians, including journalists. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented over 70,000 civilian casualties attributed to the Taliban,” the Siddiqui family’s official statement on their complaint says.
“These months have been very painful for our family,” said Omar Siddiqui, Danish’s brother, said at the press conference. “We know this is going to be a long path, but we feel it is our responsibility to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. For the family, it is important to know that we have done whatever we could for justice, while also highlighting the dangers that journalists are facing.”
Singh said the family will be asking the Indian government to support an independent and impartial investigation into Siddiqui’s killing. India is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court.