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ED: Frequent threats against journalists

Afghanistan is among a few countries where violence against journalists and other media adherents has been registered by the national and international media watchdogs having stirred a national indignation.

In fact, many types of violence are threatening the people in the country from violence against women and children to other different classes of the nation. The violence against reporters is almost the single one that is carried out by different parties. Taliban, Daesh terrorist group and the Haqqani network as the main antagonists of the government system are considered as the first ones who threaten the freedom of media and freedom of speech. Besides these groups, warlords, irresponsible armed groups and the pro-government institutions are also in the list of the media watchdogs as the violators against journalists.

Tens of reporters and other media workers have been killed, injured and threatened to quit their jobs since 2001. Radio and TV stations have been attacked and set on fire mostly by the armed opposition groups.

Police officers, bodyguards of the senior government officials like ministers, parliamentarians and provincial governors often beat, threaten insult the reporters. This comes at a time that the government has repeatedly expressed commitment to the freedom of speech and safety of journalists.

In 2017, according to a report released by a journalists’ safety committee, a non-governmental body, 169 cases of violence against media workers took place in 2017. The report said that 20 of them were murder case. It was a 67 per cent increase compared to the previous year (101 cases of violence against journalists).

This year, 25 cases of violence against reporters have been registered, according to the NAI, an institution serving to monitor journalists’ situation. In a very recent incident, unknown armed men attacked an Afghan photojournalist working for the Associated Press Thursday in Kabul. Massoud Hosseini who survived the attack, has said he was threatened by Daesh terrorists before the attack.

At a time that is called as ‘century of communications’, it is pity that journalists who are working in public awareness in Afghanistan, are deprived of safety. Journalists and media workers are taking part of nobody in the country and are only doing their job to report about events and developments.

Journalists are praised and respected in every nation, so, why are they in a frequent danger in Afghanistan? The government although has promised to provide security and information access to reporters, but the promise is remaining only in words.

The government, armed opposition groups, powerful individuals and all other parties should realize that freedom of speech is not a crime, it not a sin or something bad to be punished and silenced.

The conflicting parties are demanded to observe journalists besides other civilians who should not be targeted. The government is particularly requested to provide more safety for the reporters and make Afghanistan a place free of fear for media workers.

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