Subel Bhandari | 1 March 2012
Afghan holds up charred Qur'an in protest against Americans.
Kabul (dpa) – The head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said Thursday the protests against burning the Qur’an were legitimate and that the United States should take disciplinary action against the perpetrators.
“We were very concerned, as the UN, that the international military by mistake allowed this kind of desecration of the holy Qur’an,” UN Special Representative Jan Kubis said.
“After this apology, after these investigations, disciplinary action should follow. Those that were behind this grave mistake should be held accountable for it,” Kubis told a press conference.
Disciplinary action was essential for the international forces to be seen as sincere in their apology, Kubis said, but he would not be drawn on the kind of action he expected the US military to take on those found guilty.
“We were very hurt that the international military allowed the desecration of the Qur’an. We rejected and condemned this act, it doesn’t matter that it was a mistake,” Kubis said.
Despite apologies from military officials and from President Barack Obama, anti-US protests erupted across the country against the burning of copies of the Koran at Bagram airbase, north of Kabul.
More than 30 people have been killed in the protests and at least 6 US soldiers have died in the ensuing violence.
“The demonstrations were legitimate. The majority of them and the expressions of the rejection of this desecration were peaceful,” Kubis said.
Protesters tried to storm the UN office in Kunduz earlier this week. Five Afghans were killed and international staff with the UN were called back to Kabul.
Kubis said the relocation was temporary and the office would not be closed. “It has not affected our determination to work and continue working with the people of Afghanistan and the authorities of Afghanistan,” he said.
Earlier this week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on the US to put the perpetrators on trial and punish them.
Separate investigations on the Qur’an burning incident are ongoing, led by NATO and Afghan authorities. They are expected to be completed by next week.
Many officials fear a new round of violent protests could erupt following the findings of the investigation teams.http://goo.gl/4E9XL