Journalists in Balkh on Saturday condemned in the strongest terms the assassination of Nemat Rawan, a former TOLOnews anchor who was killed in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Kandahar on Thursday, calling on the government to immediately identity perpetrators behind the brutal murder.
They also asked the international community, particularly the United Nations, to take action towards the safety of journalists and media workers in the country.
“Afghan Journalists Safety Committee strongly condemns the assassination of Nematullah Rawan, the former anchor of TOLOnews,” said Bashir Ansari, the head of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee in Balkh.
“It is the responsibility of the government to launch a thorough investigation into the attack and other cases of violence against journalists,” said Murtaza Samimi, a journalist in Balkh.
“Terrorist groups and warring parties target our dear journalists on a daily basis to suffocate their voice,” said Shekiba Saeedi, a journalist.
Statistics by Journalists’ Safety Committee shows that at least 1,000 journalists and media workers, including 300 female media activists and journalists, have left their jobs due to threats on their lives in the last six months.
Katrina Omari, who is associated with media for the past five years, said the recent statement by the Taliban spokesman and the statement by some Afghan officials have raised strong concerns among journalists.
“Going forward, if this situation prevails, no journalist will be willing to continue professional journalism,” she said.
Journalists who lost their lives in 2020 are:
Safar Mohammad Atal, an anchor of Samson Radio in Helmand;
Ahmad Khan Nawid, an anchor of Ghor Radio in Feroz koh city;
Mir Wahid Shah Amiri, Khorshid TV reporter in Kabul;
Shafiq Zabih, a cameraman at Khorshid TV;
Elyas Daee, a Radio Azadi reporter in Helmand;
Malala Maiwand, Eekas TV anchor in Nangarhar;
Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance reporter in Ghazni; and Tahir Khan, a driver at Enekas TV in Nangarhar.
On the first day of 2021, a reporter, Bismillah Adil Aimaq, was killed in an attack by unknown armed men in Ghor. He was head of a local radio station in the province.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from September 2020 through to January 31, 2021.
A total of 65 human rights defenders and media professionals were killed in the period from January 1, 2018, to January 31, 2021, it said.
On April 2, Human Rights Watch accused the Taliban of "deliberately targeting journalists and other media workers, including women," in Afghanistan, saying that such attacks and threats have increased sharply since the start of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha.
The watchdog says these attacks increase concerns about preserving freedom of expression and the media in any peace settlement.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has found that “the Taliban commanders and fighters have engaged in a pattern of threats, intimidation, and violence against members of the media in areas where the Taliban have significant influence, as well as in Kabul.”