Threats to Journalists: Afghanistan

  • In July 2010, VOA Deewa stringer Mukarram Khan Aatif was just 30 yards away from a bomb explosion in the Mohmand tribal region of Pakistan.  He escaped the blast, but was beaten by local police trying to disperse the locals from site of the explosion.
  • Three VOA Deewa stringers, Naimatullah, Kamal Sadat and Mukarram Khan Atif received threats in June 2010 from the Taliban, They were warned that they would be punished or killed for their reporting.
  • Homyoun Shoaib covers stories from Kandahar, a very dangerous part of Afghanistan. Last week he interviewed the only survivor of the Taliban massacre in a local hospital, who disclosed that all the 27 young men killed by the Taliban were not soldiers but poor civilians on their way to find work in Iran. After the story aired, Shoaib received a call warning him that his story was not accurate and he needs to be careful about what he reports. He called the VOA Washington office to alert management about this incident on October 24th, 2008.
  • Wakil Ehsas, a television stringer for TV Ashna was held at gunpoint on September 30th, 2008 outside of the garage at his home. When the attackers turned, he ran back into the garage to hide. He was not injured, but his car and TV equipment were stolen. He was quite shaken by the situation and called Ekram Shinwari, our Kabul stringer coordinator to report the incident immediately.
  • Salim Mandokil, a reporter/translator in the Pashto Radio Service is from Qunduz. He received a phone call from his father, on July 4, 2008 that a man sent a letter to both his father and uncle, saying they would be harmed because Salim Mandokil works for the US Government. They heard Salim on the air and told them he must immediately stop broadcasting, or the entire family would be hurt. Salim went off the air for one month.  During that time, his entire family moved from the village to Qundoz city. They have still not returned to their village, but Salim has resumed broadcasting.
  • A stringer in Kandahar, Fazal Ullah, (broadcast name Fazal Rahman), told the Pashto Managing Editor on June 20th that he received a call from a Taliban commander Mullah Abibdullah, who threatened to kill him. Abibdullah said in his threat to that Rahman “he should stop reporting in support of the government and NATO. Rahman has since moved to Kabul.
  • A reporter for RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan in Kandahar was beaten by police on August 25, 2009, as he was speaking with witnesses of a massive truck bombing in the center of the city.  The blast, which killed at least 40 people and wounded 65 others, took place soon after dusk on August 25 as Afghans broke their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.  Dawa Khan Meenapal was not arrested but his recording equipment was confiscated, though it was later returned to him.
  • On November 26, 2008, RFE/RL Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Dawa Khan Menapal was kidnapped by local Taliban members while driving on the main Kandahar-Kabul highway. Thanks to efforts by many parties, he was released safely and without condition after three days.
  • Radio Free Afghanistan journalists face pressures from resurgent Taliban, authoritarian officials in Afghan provinces, drug lords and warlords. Radio Free Afghanistan’s correspondent in Helmand province, Saleh Mohammad Saleh has received numerous threatening letters and phone calls. Other correspondents, based in Kabul, Kandahar and elsewhere have received death threats, especially during the second half of 2008, and report surveillance on their homes. RFE/RL has relocated several correspondents for varying lengths of time, both locally and at times in other countries, to ensure their safety.
  • Parwaiz Najib, Radio Free Afghanistan’s reporter in Kandahar, was abducted by the Taliban December 1, 2007, blindfolded and questioned about his work as a journalist. He was held in a remote village for three days before being released to his family December 4.
  • Taliban members have called Radio Free Afghanistan’s Kabul bureau to intimidate the staff with threats. They also have threatened Pakistan-based Radio Free Afghanistan correspondents, including one in Quetta, Pakistan who reluctantly resigned in order to protect his family after receiving threats from both Taliban and local Pakistani authorities

Although there are many obstacles and dangers involved in broadcasting in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, BBG still attracts wide audiences in this region. Click here to learn more.

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