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Editorial: What 2021 Means for Afghan Media

2020 has been a deadly year for the nascent Afghan media outlets – eight journalists and media workers have lost their lives on the line of duty and 19 others received injuries. The fatalities come out of 112 incidents of violence against journalists. However, rights campaigners have also been targeted in a new and worrying trend. Last year was indeed not a good one at all for the media family. But this trend is not stopped as on the first day of 2021 we lost another journalist in yet another target killing. Bismillah Aimaq, the Editor-in-Chief of a local radio station, is at least the fifth journalist to be killed in Afghanistan in the past two months. Aimaq survived at least one other attempt on his life months ago and his plea for help went on deaf ears. Security forces have failed to maintain security of the journalists after being repeatedly targeted. The same unknown gunmen shot dead Aimaq and used the same old tactics of shot and run. Many of these incidents also went unclaimed by any militant group; however, officials have accused the Taliban of being responsible for the majority of the killings. The same gunmen killed Rahmatullah Nekzad, head of the Ghazni Journalist’ Union, Malala Maiwand, a journalist at Enikass tv and radio, and Saba Sahar, one of Afghanistan’s first female film directors. Luckily she survived the attack. In another deadly trend of magnetic bombs attached to vehicles killed Yama Siawash, former tv presenter and Aliyas Dayee, a reporter for Radio Liberty. The young and educated soul of this country continues to be targeted as it continued in the past 40 years. Journalists and civil society workers are civilians in the true scene and must be treated like ordinary citizens of the society. But they are now a target to silence their voice, bury their dreams, but still life continues in Afghanistan but of course fearfully. The deadly wave of targeted killings is aiming to kill Afghan’s spirit and take away the independent voices who the enemy is afraid of. Talks between the Afghan and Taliban peace negotiators are due to resume within some days in Doha, the target killings besides ceasefire, must be dominated the core discussion in a bid to end the bloodbath of the journalists. Killing and bloodshed have reached new peaks, further undermining the fragile peace process. Both sides should agree on immediate ceasefire because the pursuit of two tracks simultaneously – violence and negotiation, are no more acceptable. The happiest sign is that the intentional community and the representatives of the foreign diplomatic inside Afghanistan unflinchingly raised their support to the Afghan media outlets. 2021 should not be as deadly as 2020.v

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