EHSANULLAH ZIYAYI Born in Sheberghan province of Afghanistan, Ehsanullah Ziyayi worked as a reporter for Cihan News Agency until it is closed. Currently, he is working as a teacher in Kabul while he maintains as a freelance journalist.
It is by nature that every profession has its own difficulties. The health professionals, for example, have a lot of difficulties in their fight against the global pandemic.
Being a journalist in Afghanistan, however, has permanent difficulties. Each passing day, it is becoming ever more fatal. Afghanistan is a country where the wars have not ended for good and the fear roams around in the streets. On the other hand it has boundless beauties and cultural riches. The media members, who would help spread these beauties around the world are being targeted. According to the statistics of Afghanistan Journalists Center, there is a significant increase in the cases of “threat, intimidation, violence and insult” that the journalists face in the conduct
of their profession.
Taliban targets journalists with the pretext that they support “Western values”. However, until today, no murder of journalists has officially been linked to Taliban nor have the perpetrators been brought to justice. After Taliban declared that the journalists support the Western values, 294 attacks on journalists claimed the lives of 10 journalists between 2014 and 2016. With such a discourse Taliban unintentionally discloses that it is afraid of journalists as much as it fears the bombs. In a broder perspective, the journalists who cover the issues pertaining to corruption, land extortion, violence against women and human rights violations are being targeted by all the existing powerhouses. Outside big cities like Kabul, they are being targeted in an easier fashion as they are deprived of the security measures that are provided for them in Kabul. One last example of that has been the killing of 7 women journalists in Jalalabad.
NO ONE IS ABLE TO DO ANYTHING
“Press freedom” is built on fragile grounds in Afghanistan. Press members have been victim to the long lasting civil war in the country. Bismillah Aimaq, Rahmatullah Nekzad, the chairman of Ghazni Journalists’ Union, , Malala Maiwand, reporter for Enikass TV, Yama Siawash, a news presenter and Aliyas Dayee, a reporter for Radio Liberty are just a few to mention here from among the fallen victims. Institutions like Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) cannot do much other than condemning these attacks and disclosing the fact that Afghanistan is one of the deadliest countries for journalists in the world. This bitter truth brings self-censorship and decreases the interest in the profession. Especially women journalists drop out of profession due to the threats that they receive. In the World Press Freedom Index of RSF, Afghanistan ranks 122th out of 180 countries.
IN ONE YEAR, 50 JOURNALISTS WERE MURDERED
According to a 2013 resolution of the United nations, “the rights of the journalists in the war zones must be defended”. Afghanistan qualifies as the number one country in this framing, because there is a high density of foreign journalists in Afghanistan due to the foreign military presence. While the aforementioned UN resolution is regarded as an effective measure to support press freedom and decrease violence against journalists in Afghanistan,
the reality speaks otherwise. While Mexico stays on top of the Deadliest Countries list, Iraq, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan follow it. RSF declared that bitter fact that 50 journalists and media professionals were murdered in the year 2020. The numbers are very high despite the fact that the field work has significantly decreased because of Covid-19 pandemic. It is argued that in 2020, 11 murder, 20 injury, 10 kidnapping and more than 30 beating cases
JOURNALISTS ARE VICTIMS TO BOTH SIDES
As it cannot protect its own people, the Afghan government has not taken necessary steps to protect the journalists in the country. Due to various pressures and economis difficulties in the country, more than 10 radio stations shut themselves down. There are ongoing wars around the world. A high number of journalists are falling victims to these wars despite the fact that they are not parties to them. It is recorded that many journalists leave their profession because of the attacks that they sustained. While most of them move to more secure regions of the country and deal with other businesses, about 300 of them left the country.
As Taliban and the Afghan government are negotiating around a table the attacks on journalists are moving on in a relentless manner. With the murder of 7 women journalists at the beginning of March, the atmosphere of fear is going on within the Afghan media. While the attacks on journalists are continuing across the country, we are in anticipation of what the peace negotiations will bear. We will see it together with the rest of the world.