Saturday, December 4, 2021

Watchdog: 30 recent incidents of violence against Afghan journalists

ISLAMABAD (NWN). More than 30 incidents of violence and death threats have been reported against Afghan journalists in the past two months, of which almost 90% were perpetrated by the Taliban, the media oversight body said Wednesday.

According to Masorro Lutfi, the team leader, more than 40% of the cases reported by the National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan were physical beatings, and another 40% were verbal threats of violence. One journalist was killed.

Most cases in September and October were reported in Afghanistan’s provinces outside the capital, Kabul, but six of the 30 incidents took place in the capital, ANJU reported.

Lutfi said at a press conference on Wednesday that while most of the violence or threats of violence were committed by the Taliban, three of the 30 incidents were committed by unknown persons.

The report comes at a time when the Afghan Taliban rulers are trying to open diplomatic channels with the international community, which is largely reluctant to officially recognize their rule. They try to position themselves as responsible rulers promising security for everyone.

Taliban deputy culture and information minister and spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that they are aware of incidents of violence against journalists and are investigating to punish those responsible.

“This happened because of the new transition and the lack of professionalism of our friends,” Mujahid said, promising that the problem would be resolved.

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The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a militant attack in early October that killed journalist Syed Maruf Sadat, along with his cousin and two Taliban members, in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Following the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in late August, three journalists, including Sadat, were killed in Afghanistan. Raha News Agency reporter Alireza Ahmadi and Jahan-e-Sehat TV presenter Najma Sadeki were killed in a terrorist attack at Kabul airport during evacuation.

Taliban officials have repeatedly called on the media to abide by Islamic laws, but did not elaborate. Lutfi said his group is working with media and Taliban officials on a bill that will allow the media to continue their daily activities.

Afghanistan has long been a threat to journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in early September that 53 journalists have been killed in the country since 2001, including 33 since 2018.

In July, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photographer was killed while covering clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. In 2014, a journalist from Agence France-Presse, his wife and two children were among nine people killed by Taliban fighters while dining at a hotel in Kabul.

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