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RSF calls on govt. to protect Afghan journalists amid Taliban warning

AT News Report

KABUL: The Reporters Without Borders or RSF on Wednesday condemned Taliban’s latest and serious threat against Afghan media outlets, urged the unity government and US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to do whatever was necessary to protect journalists.

All media staffers in Kabul, the capital city, and elsewhere across the country will be targeted if all the advertisement against the group does not end within a week, Taliban group said in a statement, warning Afghan media outlets.

Some media outlets in Kabul and some provinces publish content, where according to Taliban, is meant to defame them, the statement added.

The extremist group has given Afghan TV channels, radio stations, print media, and other a week to cease airing anti-Taliban announcement. “A number of media outlets are broadcasting and launching some commercial advertisements which is against Taliban,” the statement added, putting it as an insult to the group and their so-called Jihad that ordained to provoke people’s sentiment against them.

“Attacks against civilian targets, including media and journalists, constitute war crimes,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Afghanistan desk.

“We call on the countries participating in the peace talks to demand a statement from the Taliban explicitly undertaking to respect international humanitarian law’s basic treaties, starting with the Geneva Conventions.”

Moini added: “At the same time, the Afghan government must ensure that the intelligence services and the military do not use the media for propaganda purposes, and must guarantee the safety of the media, which should be able to operate in a free and independent manner.”

According to RSF’s tally, there have been at least 45 cases of violence against journalists and the media in Afghanistan since the start of the year, including threats, physical violence and destruction of media outlets.     

Afghanistan is ranked 121st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.

Moreover, US ambassador to Kabul John Bass reacted to Taliban’s threat said that journalism is not a crime and called on the Taliban to stop threating Afghan journalists.

With strong reaction, Bass in a tweet message said that Afghanistan’s vibrant media is a testament to the gains of the last 18 years and called on Taliban to stop threatening Afghan journalists. 

“More violence, against journalists or civilians, will not bring security and opportunity to Afghanistan, nor will it help the Taliban reach their political objectives,” Bass tweeted.

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