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Editorial: We Are Not a Target

At least 65 media and rights workers have been killed in a series of attacks across the country since 2018. But 11 of them were killed within four months. The number of attacks rose substantially since the start of peace talks in September 2020. Thirty-two of the 65 victims were human rights defenders and 33 others were media professionals. The report indicates who dangerous Afghanistan is for the journalists and rights activists. Impunity is another concern that worries everyone. It prevails in these dramatic cases where impunity for such violations and abuse is in 9 out of 10 cases – an annoying manner that must end. Unfortunately, the new wave of targeted-killings, have led several outlets and media professionals to self-censor, quit their jobs or even leave the country. Working day and night to provide timely information to the population, and also play a role of bridge between the government and Afghan people, and exposing a range of issues such as corruption, embezzlement, incompetence, totalitarian, socioeconomic injustice, illegal appointments, and even exposing the real spoilers of the ongoing peace talks, often exposed the journalist to threats, intimidation, harassment, surveillance, arbitrary detention and etc… We, the Afghan media outlets are calling for an immediate investigation and measures to ensure the full protection of the journalists. We are worried for the increased targeted attacks on journalists. There is an urgent need that the government should do utmost to prosecute the perpetrators and ensure our safety. Though, the government assured and reiterated commitment to protect the journalist, the situation for the media is extremely worrying with an escalation in attacks. There are several steps taken by the related organizations to resolve these critical issues, but a climax of fear is covering the media fraternity to a highest level. Unfortunately, the method and objective of the killings has also changed. There was no direct attack on journalists and human rights defenders in the past years. The casualties were merely as a result of improvised explosive devices or suicide attacks. The greatest risk seemed to be of incidental harm while reporting on the scene. But in 2020, these groups of people will become a direct target – a trend which was observed in 2021 as well. Since the Taliban are not claiming responsibility for  such attacks, it’s difficult to blame them directly, while other elements like Islamic State (IS), also known as Daesh terrorist group, have also been involved in silencing the voice of specific communities. But the government put all the blame on the Taliban. Its better the government should launch an effective national protection mechanism to prevent such attacks in the future.

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