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150 Afghan journalists sign a petition seeking end to impunity

November 2, 2017

Kabul: On the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists on 2 November, more than 150 Afghan journalists signed a historic petition demanding an end to the culture of impunity for crimes committed against journalists in Afghanistan.

According to Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC), 73 journalists and media workers including 14women have been killed since 1994 in Afghanistan and two Afghan journalists in Pakistan but only four of the cases committed against media workers have led to a conviction. Such impunity breeds impunity and feeds into a vicious cycle.

Mirwais Jalil from BBC Afghanistan was the first journalist to be killed while returning from an interview with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan leader, on the way to Kabul in 1994.

Four years later of this incident, Taliban killed IRNA journalist Mahmood Saremi along with a number of diplomats in an attack in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province.

Ulf Strömberg, Maria Grazia Cutuli, Azizullah Haidari, Harry Burton, Christian Struwe, Karen Fischer, Shima Rezayee, Shakiba Sanga Amaj, Ajmal Naqshbandi, Rahman Qul, Zakia Zaki, Abdul Sammad Ruhani, Javid Ahmad, Sultan Mohammad Munadi, Sayed Hamid Noori, Omaid Khpalwak, Sadam Khan Bahadorzoi and Muzammil Sadeqi were journalists who were killed after the collapse of Taliban regime in 2001.

Mohsin Hashemi, Noor Ahmad Noori, Nils Horner, Ahmad Sardar, Anja Niedringhaus, Khalid Agah Yaqobi, Palwasha Tokhi, Aqil Mohammad Weqar, Zabihullah Pashtonyar, Amanullah Atayee, Ali Mohammadi, Hussain Amiri, Jawad Hussaini, Mohammad Hussain, Mahri Azizi, Maryam Ibrahimi and Zainab Mirzayee were other journalists and media actors killed during the last two decades in Afghanistan.

Zubair Khaksar, Yaqob Sharafat, David Gilkey, Zabihullah Tamanna, Niamatullah Zahir, Nasir Mudassir, Noorullah, Faridah, Abdul Latif, Mohammad Amir, Abdul Ghani, Zainullah, Habibullah Husainzadah, Mohammad Nazir, Aziz Nawin and Omar Arghandiwal were also among those killed.

These journalists and media workers lost their lives in targeted killings, bomb attacks, in the cross-fire and armed conflicts across the country. AFJC's records shows that Taliban is leading suspect in killing of journalists with 39, Unidentified armed group, 21, Daesh or Islamic State Group (IS), 8, NATO led troops, 3, family members, 3 and Afghan National Police is accused in one case.

In a declaration on the occasion of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the Afghanistan Journalists Center, Executive Director Ahmad Quraishi said ‘We condemn killings the in the strongest possible terms and expect Afghan National Unity Government to uphold its obligations by protecting journalists and to end culture of impunity in Afghanistan.’

On May 1 2017, AFJC launched a six month advocacy campaign supported by IFEX for public awareness on crimes against journalists and asked journalists from different provinces to support the program including a petition on ending the culture of impunity in Afghanistan.

In this regard, a petition demanding end to impunity for crimes against journalists was signed by more than 150 journalists.

The petition- submitted to the Presidential Palace and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) office calls for prioritizing cases of journalists and media workers killed during the past two decades in Afghanistan and ending the culture of impunity.