Eight media workers killed in country in 2020

8 Subh, Kabul: The Afghanistan Journalists Center published its annual report on violence against journalists. The report said that the targeted killing of journalists in Afghanistan had increased over the past year, leading to an escalation in self-censorship.

According to this agency, 112 cases involving journalists and media figures have been reported, including deaths, injuries, physical violence, insults, threats, pressure and intimidation, or attacks and acts of sabotage.

Ahmad Quraishi, director of the Afghanistan Journalists Center, said, “2020 was a different year than 2019 in terms of the damage it did to the Afghan media community. Of the eight cases in which media workers were killed, six were terrorist attacks, which, in addition to an increase in threats and systemic limitation on access to information, has fueled journalists’ fears, leading to self-censorship.”

According to him, at least seven media workers also died from Covid-19.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center said the figures were similar to those of 2019, but unprecedented in terms of the large number of targeted killings of media workers.

Statistics from the Afghanistan Journalists Center show that three presenters, two reporters, a cameraman, a technical staff member and a media service staff member were killed during 2020.

Safar Mohammad Atal, presenter of Radio Samoon in Lashkargah, Ahmad Khan Naweed, presenter of Radio Voice of Ghor in Ferozkoh, Mir Wahidshah Amiri, reporter and Shafiq Zabih, cameraman of Khorshid TV in Kabul, Elias Daei, reporter of Radio Azadi in Lashkargah, the driver of the media outlet in Jalalabad and Rahmatullah Nikzad, a freelance photographer (and collaborator with Al Jazeera television and the Associated Press), were killed in Ghazni last year.

Yama Siawash, a former TOLO News presenter, was also killed in an explosion in Kabul. He was working for the Central Bank at the time.

Regarding the death of Fardin Amini, the Afghanistan Journalists Center reported that the initial police investigation into the death of the Arian News presenter did not establish whether his death was caused by human intention or war.

The center did not include their names in the list of victims of the media community.

During 2020, 19 journalists and media workers were injured in criminal as well as terrorist incidents in different provinces of the country.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center, a significant number of incidents of violence, threats and insults against journalists were also recorded during this period.

These include 45 cases of threats, 11 cases of physical violence, six cases of detention, six cases of abduction and four cases of armed action against journalists and the media.

ISIS is accused of killing two executives, a technical staff member and a service worker, the Taliban are accused of killing a reporter and a cameraman, and unidentified individuals are accused or suspected of killing two presenters, according to a report by the Afghanistan Journalists Center.

ISIS has also been accused of injuring nine journalists and media workers. Unidentified gunmen were involved in six cases and the Taliban in four.

In connection with 45 threats against journalists, the Afghan Journalists Center explained that in 12 cases involved government officials, 11 involved Taliban, six involved unidentified individuals, five were national security cases, four involved powerful and influential individuals, three involved police officers, one involved a member of the House of Representatives, and one involved a representative of the provincial council, while the president’s bodyguards and an army officer are also accused of threatening journalists.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center, the number of victims from the media community in 2020 is one more than in 2019, and in terms of the total number of events other than threats, it is five less than the previous year.

The center says that with the escalation of war by the Taliban and other “armed opposition groups” that were continuing at the same time as the Peace Talks, the threat against journalists has risen to an all-time high.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center has called on the government to work with the international community to address the growing concerns of the media community in order to find a practical solution.

The center stressed that these concerns must also be given priority in peace talks with the Taliban, because otherwise, the continuation of this situation will cast a shadow over the entire Afghan society.