Some journalists and civil society activists claim that they were barred from attending President Ghani’s meeting with Herat officials on Thursday, calling it an act to prevent them from criticizing the president.
They said President Ghani renamed the Herat airport and met with local officials during his trip to the province.
Ghani visited Herat on Wednesday and left there on Thursday.
“The treatment by the president and the Presidential Palace towards media and journalists give a feeling to all journalists that the Afghan government does not give any importance to freedom of the press,” said Farhad Joya, a journalist in Herat.
“We planned to meet the president, but some women tried to prevent us. They told us that if we raised any demand or criticism, we will be handled by the presidential guards,” said Soraya Karimi, a civil society activist in Herat.
Other civil society activists raised the same issue and said they wanted to share with the president their findings of the security situation in the western province, but they were not allowed to attend.
“We conducted an investigation about government institutions… and wanted to share it with the president, but we were not allowed to meet the president,” said Halima Pajhwok, a civil society activist in Herat.
“We wanted to raise the demands of the people in Herat in the area of economy, peace, employment, but we were banned to meet him (President Ghani),” said Shakib Pardis, a resident of Herat.
President Ghani who addressed an event in Herat, a video of which was posted by the Presidential Palace, talked about the protection of freedom of expression in the peace negotiations.
But journalists who were prevented to cover his trip said they see a difference between President Ghani’s words and action in terms of protecting press freedom.