1 April 2013 – The United Nations system in Afghanistan today paid homage to seven UN personnel killed on this day two years ago, when a mob numbering thousands, reacting to the burning of a copy of the Koran in the United States, stormed a UN compound in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Across the country, the seven were remembered through a minute’s silence and the lowering of the UN flag in several UN offices and compounds. In the city of Mazar-e-Sharif today, military advisors serving with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) held a memorial service at the UN compound.
Those killed in the 2011 attack included military advisor Lt. Col. Siri Skare of Norway; Joakim Dungel, a human rights officer from Sweden; Filaret Motco, a political affairs officer from Romania, as well as four Nepalese Gurkha soldiers - Dil Prasad Gurung, Chhabi Lal Purja Pun, Narayan Bahadur Thapa Magar and Min Bahadur Thapa - serving as guards at the UN office. A number of Afghan demonstrators were also killed and many UN staff members were wounded.
Addressing an official memorial ceremony in Mazar-e-Sharif on Sunday, the director of UNAMA’s human rights office, Georgette Gagnon – speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, who also heads UNAMA – said that the deceased would always be remembered.
“Let us mourn Joakim (Dungel)'s death but equally let us celebrate Joakim's life, his work and his legacy by continuing to fight for ‘human rights everywhere all the time for everyone’ with courage, with commitment, with dignity and with renewed determination,” said Ms. Gagnon of the human rights officer who lost his life in the attack. “Joakim is with us always.”
In his statement released soon after the attack, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had described the attack as “outrageous and cowardly” and said it “cannot be justified under any circumstances.”
Mr. Ban said those killed “were dedicated to the cause of peace in Afghanistan and to a better life for all Afghans… and gave their lives in the service of humanity.”
The Security Council issued a separate statement in the wake of the attack, with its 15 members condemning “all incitement to and acts of violence.”