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Editorial: Immeasurable Loss

Afghan journalists and professional media workers have been subjected to unprecedented levels of attacks. Twelve journalists have been killed and many more have been targeted in just four months. Last year, 2020 was the deadly year for them, and the beginning of 2021 is already proved deadly. Today the climate of fear has covered and badly impacted the daily activities of Afghan nascent but very professional media outlets. The chilling effect of this violence is the creation of such a fear that no one has ever felt before. We feel frightened when we see two people riding a motorbike because the deadly trend of targeted-killings has often been carried out in run-and-hit fashion using motorcycles. Not only in Kabul, but the risks media workers face are even greater in provinces. The most recent devastated incident involving shootings by unknown gunmen, have left three female journalists dead in Nangarhar province. Another journalist, Bismillah Adel was killed in Badghis province. Almost two months after his assassination, unidentified armed men attacked Adel’s home in which three members of his family were killed, four wounded, and another three were taken by them. Other journalists like Elyas Dayee, Yama Siawash, Malalai Maiwand plus civil society workers have been killed in the wave of violence started since the beginning of peace talks in September. Yet we are away from a standstill as a new report revealed 18 percent decline in the number of women media workers. This happened in the last six months. It is another immeasurable loss for the country. No one was thinking that one day we would reach such a moment where journalism becomes an increasingly deadly profession. It’s more than clear that until both government and Taliban groups allow journalists to report without fear for their safety, Afghanistan’s fragile media freedom is at risk of becoming a casualty of this deadly war. The unparalleled level of violence has left no other choice but to refer to the UNSC and UNAMA to freeze the tendency. The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) and 40 other civil society organizations from around the globe, in a letter to the UNSC and UNAMA, highlight the wave of journalists’ killings in Afghanistan and urge them to stand in solidarity with the Afghan journalists to help ensure their safety and media freedom given the role they play in a peaceful and democratic transition during and after the ongoing peace negotiations. All hopes have now been pinned on the UNSC to come up to the fore with a clear plan, even to use pressure tools at some point to stop violence against journalists.

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