Watchdog: 30 Recent Cases of Violence Against Afghan Journalists

The National Union of Journalists of Afghanistan says that 90 percent of violence against journalists is committed by the Taliban.

More than 30 cases of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists were recorded in the past two months, with nearly 90 percent committed by the Taliban, says a media watchdog.

More than 40 percent of the cases recorded by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) were physical blows and another 40 percent were verbal threats of violence, the group’s director Masorro Lutfi said Wednesday.

The rest involved cases in which journalists were jailed for one day. A journalist was assassinated.

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

Lutfi, at a press conference on Wednesday, said that while most cases of violence, or threats of violence, were perpetrated by members of the Taliban, three of the 30 cases were carried out by unknown persons.

The report comes as Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers attempt to open diplomatic channels with an international community largely reluctant to formally recognize their rule. They are trying to position themselves as responsible rulers, who promise security for all.

Taliban Deputy Minister of Culture and Information and Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told The Associated Press news agency that they are aware of cases of violence against journalists and are investigating to punish the perpetrators.

“The new transition and the lack of professionalism from our friends caused it,” Mujahid said, promising that the problem will be solved.

The group ISIL (ISIS) claimed responsibility for an attack by gunmen in early October in which journalist Sayed Maroof Sadat was killed in the eastern province of Nangarhar along with his cousin and two members of the Taliban.

Since the withdrawal of US forces in late August, three journalists, including Sadat, have been killed in Afghanistan.

Alireza Ahmadi, a reporter for the Raha news agency, and Najma Sadeqi, a presenter for the Jahan-e-Sehat television channel, were killed in a suicide attack at the Kabul airport during the evacuation.

Taliban officials have repeatedly urged the media to follow Islamic laws, but without elaborating. Lutfi said his group is working on a bill with the media and Taliban officials to allow the media to continue their day-to-day operations.

Afghanistan has long been a danger 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 photographer for the Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters news agency was killed while covering clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. In 2014, a journalist for the Agence France-Presse news agency, his wife and their two children were among the nine people killed by Taliban gunmen while having dinner at a hotel in Kabul.

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