The video, which has gone viral since it was released Friday, shows the aftermath of a small battle that occurred between Afghan Special Forces and bodyguards for Nizamuddin Qaisari, a police chief in Faryab who was arrested after, among other things, he threatened to kill government officials.
In the video, what appear to be government soldiers can be seen repeatedly kicking the handcuffed bodyguards as they lay prone on the ground while bleeding from wounds that go untreated. Four of Qaisari’s men were killed in the skirmish, government officials have said.
Ghani, fresh from a NATO summit in Brussels that secured funding for the Afghan government through 2024, said he has called for an investigation into the incident, which critics say shows that human rights violations have gone unchecked within his administration.
“For me as the commander in chief of the armed forces, any treatment of security and defense forces which are in contradiction with the enforced principles and laws of the country, by no means is acceptable,” Ghani said during a news conference. “We are all responsible and I assure you that the violators will be dealt with.”
A steady wave of protests has rolled through a portion of northern Afghanistan near the Uzbekistan border since the arrest of Qaisari, a protege of Afghan vice president Abdurrashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek.
Dostum, a lion of Afghanistan’s civil war during the 1990s who has been living in Turkey after he was accused in 2016 of ordering the sexual assault of a political rival, has called for Qaisari’s release, further energizing the street protests.
On Sunday, more than 100 protesters marched through the streets inside Faryab and two neighboring provinces that also have large Uzbek populations, with some setting up tents and others staging sit-ins outside government buildings.
Meanwhile, critics accused Ghani on social media of trying to cover up abuses committed by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to stay in the good graces of Afghanistan’s NATO funders.
“Please listen to what the Afghan people say,” Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghan intelligence services under former president Hamid Karzai, wrote on Twitter to NATO leaders. “They say don’t allow @ashrafghani under the false pretext of fight against corruption to turn the ANDSF into his private GESTAPO and SS.”
Ghani has held firm on Qaisari’s arrest, although during his news conference Sunday he hinted at a possible deal with Dostum, saying the vice president’s return to Afghanistan is “very possible.”
“This issue has a legal aspect and the attorney general will investigate it,” Ghani said.
Human rights groups said a transparent investigation into the abuses shown in the video is critical if the Ghani administration wants the United States and other major backers to continue to take it seriously.
Belal Seddiqi, a spokesman for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which is part of the government, said nobody should be allowed to get away with such behavior.
“Afghan security forces are responsible to safeguard peoples’ rights,” Seddiqi said. “They do not have the right, under any circumstances, to violate human rights. No one has the right to act like this.”
Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report.