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2 Radio Journalists Attacked by Gunmen in Afghanistan

 

Feb 6, 2015

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two radio journalists were hospitalized, one of them in a coma, after being attacked by gunmen in northern Afghanistan, the police and one of the victims said Saturday. It was the latest in a series of attacks on members of the Afghan news media.

Mohammad Ibrahim Hashemi, 22, and his brother Mohammad Musa Hashemi, 20, were attacked on Thursday evening outside their home in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan Province, said Zabiullah Shujah, a spokesman for the provincial police. Mr. Shujah said one of the attackers, a man named Qayum, had been detained, and that he appeared to have a family connection with the victims, but that the motive was still unknown.

The attack left Mohammad Ibrahim Hashemi, a news editor who runs political and cultural programs, in a coma and his brother, a station operator, badly beaten. The brothers both work for Adib Radio in Pul-e-Khumri.

There was no claim of responsibility, but attention immediately focused on the Taliban. The insurgents have begun increasingly to target the media, including a January car bomb attack in Kabul that killed seven employees of a production company working for the country’s largest television network, Tolo TV.

Pul-e-Khumri, which is about 140 miles north of Kabul, has been the scene of heavy fighting this year between government forces and Taliban insurgents.

“Someone called from behind us, cursing,” Mohammad Musa Hashemi said by telephone after being released from the hospital. “When we turned to look they fired at us four times — three missed but one hit my brother in the head. I tried to carry him away, but they dragged me away from him. They put a pistol to my head to shoot me, but it didn’t fire, so they beat me.”

Mr. Hashemi said he and his brother had received many threatening phone calls warning them “to leave our jobs or we’ll be killed.” He said he believed it was a Taliban-affiliated attack. “They have threatened us in the past,” he said.

The year has gotten off to a deadly start for the Afghan news media. In addition to the Tolo TV attack, Hajji Mohammad Zubair Khaksar, a correspondent for a government-run broadcast network, was killed last week by gunmen in Nangarhar Province, east of Kabul. There was no claim of responsibility for that attack, but Mr. Khaksar and other journalists there had previously received death threats from the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State, which has established a foothold in the province.

“This is going to be a very bloody year for journalists, in my view,” said Najib Sharifi, director of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee. The violence “reflects a shift in the Taliban’s approach. This is the beginning of a war against the media.”

Reacting to public outrage over the attacks, President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree last week that requires government forces, which themselves have often been responsible for violence against journalists, to treat the news media better and to aggressively reopen cold cases involving the murder of journalists. The police and media activists have also discussed how to better protect reporters.

But Mr. Sharifi, of the journalists’ safety committee, said it was unrealistic to think official protection would make a difference, noting that “you can’t have an armored car or a police escort for every journalist, or a gun.”

The Taliban’s war against the news media “will continue until they control the narrative of the media,” he said. Nytimes

 

Afghan MP threatens to death local television manager

28 May 2015

Pul-e Khumri: An Afghan Member of Parliament from Baghlan province, Mr. Ashiqullah Wafa, threatens Tanweer private television station manager to death and warns that the media cannot cover events that are against the will of this MP.

Two days ago, the MP contacted Mr. Shir Mohammad Jahesh, the manager of Tanweer TV via phone and objected to his coverage of incidents in Baghlan province. The MP also warned that he will make special trip to Pul-e Khumri to punish Mr. Jahesh.

In an audio file accessed by the Afghanistan Journalists Center Mr. Wafa warns that media have no rights to cover the case of Aminullah Amarkheil, the former provincial police chief who has recently been transferred from this province.

Mr. Wafa accuses the former police chief of compromise with Taliban and claims that Mr. Amarkheil has involvement in the insecurity of the province.

Additionally, Baghlan MP accuses Tanweer TV for defamation.

In a report broadcast by Tanweer TV, a local resident claims that Ashiqullah Wafa’s men want to kill him.

The MP says, “I am not an ordinary person. I have impunity."While the station manager emphasizes that he broadcast the opinion of an interviewee, Mr. Wafa insists that airing such opinion has defamed him and his men.

The MP further warns, “[with this report] you defamed me and took away my honor in my area. Know your limits… I will come to Pul-e Khumri on Saturday, break your hands and legs and throw you on the street.”

The MP abuses the station manager and his family verbally and finally he warns Tanweer TV station manager whether he would be able to live in Pul-e Khumri from now on.

Afghanistan Journalists Center(AFJC) considers the threats and warning of this MP as steps towards censoring the freedom of speech and free media in Baghlan. While severely condemning this act, AFJC expresses deep concerns over the personal safety and security of Tanweer television manager.

The journalists defending organization pleads to Afghan Parliament to observe the threats and warning of Ashiqullah Wafa illegal and against the standards of public representation and announce the results of its observation publicly.

Afghanistan Journalists Center also asks the Afghan government to legally prosecute such unreasonable and outlawed people and do not allow them abuse their authority and power of public representation in the House of Parliament. AFJC further demands that such people who forces journalists to censor their coverage of events should be punished.

Local influential authorities entrap a TV manager in North of Afghanistan

Pul-e-Khumri, August 4, 2013

Tanwir private TV station manager, Mr. Sher Mohammad Jahesh has been accused of kidnapping offence by Pul-e Khumri city’s former Mayor.

The accusation was filed against Mr. Jahesh after he filed a complaint in police station against former Mayor’s nephew and a bodyguard, who had beaten up a reporter and a cameraman of his TV station for covering the appointment of the new city mayor.

According to Mr. Jahesh, when he accompanied the police soldiers in giving the arrest warrant to former Mayor, his other nephew and his brother warned Mr. Jahesh to take back his complaint or he will face the consequences soon.

Saiyed Maghsoud Sadat, former Pul-e Khumri mayor is an influential figure in the city and his brother saiyed Mahmoud Saddat leads the provincial justice department.

Tanwir TV manager said, “I was astonished when I got a call from the police who notified me about the arrest of one of the offenders, but also said that my own arrest warrant on accusation of kidnapping has been issued too.”

Mr. Jahesh has been accused of trying to kidnap former mayor’s nephew, whose mother happens to be a judge in the city.

Gen. Asadullah Shirzad, the provincial police chief confirmed the accusation against Mr. Jahesh.

"Jahish was asked to come to the police headquarters for prosecution during two days, he is free now, and we will forward the dossier to attorney when our work is finished" Gen Shirzad added.

The former mayor, Sayed Maghsoud Sadat, called himself a supporter of freedom of press and denied his men were involved in the humiliating and beating up of the journalists.

While rejecting any complaints against Mr. Jahish, Mr. Sadat said his nephew has complaining letter against Mr. Jahish in which he says Jahish along with armed men came and attempted to kidnap him. Mr. Jahish must be prosecuted for this case, Sadat said.

Afghanistan Journalists Center expresses deep concerns over such baseless accusation and sees it as a way to limit the freedom of media in a critical time when NATO troops are preparing to withdraw from the country and the presidential election is due in less than a year.

AJFC, therefore, appeals to the Afghan president to ensure security of the reporters and media personnel and to take serious action against the violators of media freedom in the country.