Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Afghanistan: Slaughterhouse of Journalist and Civilians

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Afghanistan: Slaughterhouse of Journalist and Civilians

Unfortunately, the media workers have been deliberately targeted for the purpose of extinguishing the voice of freedom of expression and enlightenment in the country. Within less than four days, three times they have been attacked in Kabul, Kandahar and Khost provinces. The first attack targeted Abdul Manan Arghand, who worked as a journalist for Kabul News TV, by gunmen in the way to work in the southern city of Kandahar. The second fatal suicide attack was carried out in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, by an attacker who mingled with group of reporters — and calculatedly detonated his explosive among the group journalists killing thirty people including nine journalists and nearly forty other wounded. This deadly event occurred after a motorcycle rider tactically blew himself up in the middle of early morning rush hour traffic in the vicinity of the Afghan intelligence service’s headquarters when journalists went to cover the blast scene then the coward terrorist blasted himself among defenseless media workers. The Afghan branch of the so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility.
The third incident took the life of BBC reporter Ahmad Shah, who had been working in the eastern Afghan province of Khost. In total, 11journalists have been killed within three days while several others were seriously injured. Meanwhile, another attack was carried out on a NATO convoy in Kandahar, the south of the country, took the lives of 11 innocent children student; Thus, nearly 70 people were killed and at least 130 wounded when an ISIS bomber attacked a voter registration center in west of Kabul last week. The previous month, an ISIS bomber targeted a Shia shrine in Kabul where people had gathered for celebration of the Persian New Year 31 people were killed and 65 others were injured. Overall, according to the media reportsKabul has seen 10 deadly attacks in the first four months of this year alone.
These successive incidents indicate that the climate of fear and killing has been intensified throughout the country started from spring season, especially after the three-year late election process has begun. A few days ago Jalalabad city was also rocked by explosion, targeting a mosque in the vicinity of the 4th police district of the city where registration for the elections was underway and as a result at least six people have sustained injuries. In addition, at least eleven civilians were killed or wounded in a separate explosion in Surkh Rod district of the same province one day earlier to the mentioned event.
Thus, according to last Sunday media report, thirty security forces including national and local policemen have been killed in a Taliban attack on Teshkan district of northern Badakhshan province. The incident happened at around 04:00 am on Sunday when the Taliban stormed the district, following their so-called “Al Khandaq” offensive. As quoted from Javid Majidi, Badakhshan’s provincial council member, the Taliban also held three policemen in captive. The provincial police chief Kiramat Jahangir, however, said that five policemen were dead in the attack.He added that nine Taliban militants were killed and 13 others wounded in the incident. The Taliban confirmed their attack on Teshkan district of the province but claimed that it left dozens of pro-government forces dead.
However, the trends on freedom of expression is more systematic and dangerous as it seems that recent successive blasts are not the first and last attacks on media freedom in Afghanistan. In fact, the media repression had started from several years ago. In 2017 nearly 20 journalists have been killed with at least 169 cases of violence or threats have been reported. Thereafter, many reporters and media workers started to use self-censorship due to the fear climate and threats imposed on the media community. These facts were well reflected in a personal essay written by martyred Mr. Marai titled “When Hope is Gone” talked about the risks involved in his life in the Afghan capital, “I don’t dare to take my children for a walk. I have five and they spend their time cooped up inside the house”, he wrote.
It is more painful when no one’s hearts are shaken seeing these many dreads and issues in this war-torn country. it was repeatedly criticized about journalist’s threats and that government refrains from providing the necessary information to the media. It is highly important for media to have freely access to information so as to monitor and control over the state authorities elected by the society and to make a self-controlled society, which is the demand of democracy. The definition of a self-controlled society means that it  shall make its own decisions. And the society can do this in case it is informed in aggregate with the open exchange of opinions by the mass media, as an instrument for the exercising of freedom of speech and expression for a democratic society. Hence, Political pundits believe when the people are aware of the facts, the country will be controlled and calm.
No state will be built on the ocean of blood; so defenseless civilian must be protected and the security of independent media which is a cornerstone of democracy must be ensured. Any types of attacks on media are deemed as attacking  on freedom of speech and democracy. Democracy is meaningless without freedom of media and freedom of thoughts. According to article 50 of the Afghan Constitution and according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Conventions, “Right to Know or Right of Access to Information” are the fundamental human rights. Therefore, enjoying from these rights are not possible without supporting and protecting media community against bloodthirsty groups. Both the government and its international partners should act up their legal and ethical duties based on which their presence is justified.

Hujjatullah Zia is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at zia_hujjat@yahoo.com

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