Dasht-e-Leili

Timeline created by PHRtime
  • Taliban, Al Qaeda fighters surrounded by Dostum, allies.

    Taliban, Al Qaeda fighters surrounded by Dostum, allies.
    From <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65473' target="_blank">Newsweek's </a>timeline, Aug. 26, 2002 (print edition only): General Dostum and Northern Alliance allies surround Kunduz, Afghanistan, where Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters hide amongst civilians.
  • Some Taliban troops surrender at Kunduz, Afghanistan

    Some Taliban troops surrender at Kunduz, Afghanistan
    <a href='http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/25/world/nation-challenged-siege-surrender-taliban-begins-final-northern-stronghold.html?scp=5&sq=Kunduz surrender&st=cse' target="_blank"><em>The New York Times</em> reports </a>the beginning of the surrender of Taliban troops to the Northern Alliance and to the US near Kunduz, Afghanistan.
  • Revolt at Qala Jangi prison

    Revolt at Qala Jangi prison
    From <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65473' target="_blank">Newsweek's timeline</a>, Aug. 26, 2002 (print edition only): As the surrendering fighters exit Kunduz, a revolt of foreign fighters captured at Kunduz erupts at Qala Jangi prison in Mazar-e Sharif, killing hundreds of prisoners as well as CIA operative Johnny Michael Span.
  • Prisoners loaded in container trucks

    Prisoners loaded in container trucks
    From <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65473' target="_blank">Newsweek's timeline</a>, Aug. 26, 2002 (print edition only): Many of the prisoners who surrendered to Dostum and allies are transferred to cargo-container trucks at Qala Zeini fort for transpor to Sheberghan Prison.
  • Bodies in the trucks

    Bodies in the trucks
    From <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65473' target="_blank">Newsweek's timeline</a>, Aug. 26, 2002 (print edition only): When the container trucks are opened at Sheberghan Prison, hundreds of prisoners are found dead of heat, thirst, and asphyxiation.
  • Guantanamo Bay Prison opens

    Guantanamo Bay Prison opens
    Guantanamo Bay detention center opens; the first Afghani prisoners are <a href='http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Camp_x-ray_detainees.jpg' target="blank">placed in detention in Camp X-Ray</a>.
  • Discovery of mass grave near Sheberghan Prison

    Discovery of mass grave near Sheberghan Prison
    January 16-21, 2002: PHR researchers Jennifer Leaning, MD, and John Heffernan visit Sheberghan Prison, document appalling conditions there, and discover the mass gravesite at nearby Dasht-e-Leili.
  • PHR informs DoD official of alleged mass graves

    PHR informs DoD official of alleged mass graves
    January 28, 2002: PHR informs the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security Operations, Dr. Joseph Collins, of the existence of alleged mass graves at Dasht-e-Leili.
  • PHR forensic team starts preliminary assessment of site

    PHR forensic team starts preliminary assessment of site
    February 7-14, 2002: Under the auspices of the UN, PHR sends forensic experts Dr. William Haglund, PhD (Forensic Anthropologist and then-Director of PHR’s International Forensic Program) and Stefan Schmitt, MS (Forensic Consultant) to conduct a preliminary forensic assessment of various mass graves in northern Afghanistan, including Dasht-e-Leili. PHR completes an internal report on the mass graves (PDF).
  • Pres. Bush strips detainees of PoW status

    Pres. Bush strips detainees of PoW status
    President Bush signs an order stripping detainees of Prisoner of War status and certain protections provided by the Geneva Conventions.
  • PHR sends letter to Hamid Karzai calling for protection of graves

    PHR sends letter to Hamid Karzai calling for protection of graves
    March 1, 2002: PHR sends a letter to then-Chairman of the Interim Government of Afghan Hamid Karzai (PDF) calling for the protection of mass graves and a plan for further investigation of the site.
  • Copies of letter to Karzai and PHR internal report sent to US officials.

    Copies of letter to Karzai and PHR internal report sent to US officials.
    A copy of the letter to Chairman Karzai (PDF) and the internal PHR report on the site (PDF) are delivered to Secretary of State Colin Powell; Pierre Richard Prosper, US Ambassador for War Crimes; and other US officials. PHR receives no response.
  • PHR forensic team conduct preliminary investigation of Dasht-e-Leili site.

    PHR forensic team conduct preliminary investigation of Dasht-e-Leili site.
    April 26 - May 7, 2002: PHR forensic experts Dr. William Haglund, PhD (Forensic Anthropologist and then-Director of PHR’s International Forensic Program) and Dr. Nizam Peerwani, MD (Forensic Pathologist) conduct a preliminary investigation of the Dasht-e-Leili site, including digging a test trench exposing 15 bodies, and conducting autopsies on three exhumed bodies. Cause of death in each of the autopsied bodies is determined to be consistent with suffocation.
  • New York Times reports on discovery of mass gravesite.

    New York Times reports on discovery of mass gravesite.
    <a href='http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/01/world/study-hints-at-mass-killing-of-the-taliban.html' target="_blank"><em>Study Hints at Mass Killing of the Taliban</em></a>, by Carlotta Gall
  • PHR makes its report public

    PHR makes its report public
    PHR makes public its report on findings at Dasht-e-Leili (PDF) together with a press release calling for the protection of and further investigation of the site (PDF).
  • PHR reissues call for investigation and protection of graves

    PHR reissues call for investigation and protection of graves
    In response to video testimonies by filmmaker Jamie Doran, PHR reissues its call for protection of gravesites and a full investigation. PHR's John Heffernan appears on NPR's Morning Edition to call for the same.
  • DoD says it will not investigate nor secure the gravesite.

    DoD says it will not investigate nor secure the gravesite.
    August 2002: Deputy Assistant Secretary Collins meets with PHR and says that the Department of Defense will take no action to secure the Afghan mass gravesite or to investigate it.
  • PHR asks the UN to assist.

    PHR asks the UN to assist.
    August 7, 2002: PHR sends a letter to high-level UN officials asking the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to support the protection and further investigation of the Dasht-e-Leili gravesite.
  • Questions raised of American involvement in Afghan deaths

    Questions raised of American involvement in Afghan deaths
    August 2002: Newsweek provides the first comprehensive reporting on Dasht-e-Leili in its cover story, <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65473' target="_blank"><em>The Death Convoy of Afghanistan</em> </a>, which describes suffocation of prisoners reportedly in container trucks following their surrender at Kunduz, and raising questions regarding US involvement.
  • PHR welcomes Afghan response, says assistance is needed.

    PHR welcomes Afghan response, says assistance is needed.
    August 22, 2002: PHR issues a press release welcoming Afghan Government’s pledge to investigate, but says Afghans need expert assistance; US response insufficient; UN urged to authorize commission of inquiry (PDF).
  • PHR contacts Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld

    PHR contacts Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld
    August 26, 2002: PHR sends a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (PDF), asking for assurance of security at the gravesite and for DoD to review its own responsibilities regarding its ally’s compliance with the Geneva Conventions.
  • UN authorizes investigation; security concerns postpone it.

    UN authorizes investigation; security concerns postpone it.
    September 19, 2002: The UN authorizes an official investigation of mass graves in Afghanistan, including the site at Dasht-e-Leili. However, early 2003 plans for an exhumation of the site by PHR experts is postponed indefinitely due to heightened security concerns.
  • Newsweek reports Forensic Team to be allowed to investigate.

    Newsweek reports Forensic Team to be allowed to investigate.
    <a href='http://www.newsweek.com/id/65776' target="_blank">Newsweek reports </a>that the UN and the Afghan Government agree to allow a forensic team to investigate the mass grave at Dasht-e Leili.
  • "Ethical Dilemmas" workshop allows PHR's Sirkin to raise questions.

    "Ethical Dilemmas" workshop allows PHR's Sirkin to raise questions.
    June 11-12, 2003: PHR’s Deputy Director, Susannah Sirkin, discusses the Dasht-e-Leili case with Special Forces officers, military/humanitarian law experts, and human rights organizations at Fort Bragg during an “Ethical Dilemmas for Special Forces” workshop. The discussion focuses on US responsibility under the Geneva Conventions for fully investigating the incident and protecting evidence.
  • PHR submits FOIA request for information on Dasht-e-Leili events of 2001.

    PHR submits FOIA request for information on Dasht-e-Leili events of 2001.
    Having received no response to its advocacy, and concerned that investigation of the gravesite had still not occurred, PHR submits a request under the Freedom of Information Act (”FOIA”) to the U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Air Force, the Navy, the U.S. Central Command, and the CIA for all information relating to occurrences on and around November 2001 in the region of Dasht-e-Leili.
  • PHR files complaint against DoD for no response to 2006 FOIA request.

    PHR files complaint against DoD for no response to 2006 FOIA request.
    February 19, 2008: PHR files a legal complaint in US District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Defense (PDF) for its failure to respond to the June 2006 FOIA request.
  • PHR's Schmitt documents evidence of large-scale desctruction of evidence.

    PHR's Schmitt documents evidence of large-scale desctruction of evidence.
    July 6, 2008: As part of a larger UN forensic assessment mission, IFP Forensic Director Stefan Schmitt visits Dasht-e-Leili and documents large pits in the area where mass graves were documented in 2002, indicative of large-scale destruction of evidence.
  • PHR files against DoD for failure of response.

    PHR files against DoD for failure of response.
    November 17, 2008: Believing that the FOIA documents (part 1 [PDF 7.3MB]], part 2 [PDF 5.5MB]) received to date do not represent a thorough search of the relevant records, PHR files a Motion for Summary Judgment against the DoD for its failure to respond appropriately to PHR’s June 2006 FOIA request.
  • IFP submits report to UNHCHR and UNAMA

    IFP submits report to UNHCHR and UNAMA
    IFP Director Stefan Schmitt submits a confidential report to UNAMA and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) with findings and recommendations from his June 24 – July 17, 2008, assessment trip to Afghanistan.
  • McClatchy News reports tampering

    McClatchy News reports tampering
    <a href='http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/57649.html' target="blank">McClatchy Newspapers reports the evidence of grave site tampering</a>, which had been discovered by a PHR forensic expert working with the UN.
  • PHR writes to President Karzai

    PHR writes to President Karzai
    PHR writes to President Karzai (PDF) asking him to request assistance from ISAF to protect the mass gravesite.
  • PHR writes to Gen. David McKiernan

    PHR writes to Gen. David McKiernan
    PHR writes to General David McKiernan (PDF), Supreme Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, requesting that he offer ISAF (International Security Forces-Afghanistan) assistance to the Afghan government to secure the mass grave site and protect witnesses.
  • General McKiernan responds to PHR

    General McKiernan responds to PHR
    General McKiernan responds (PDF) to PHR's letter requesting investigation of the grave site and protection of the witnesses, saying it is the Afghan government's responsibility to do so.