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The eight most threatened journalists in Afghanistan

Men and women journalists who are paying a huge price for excercising their right to freedom of speech
Kamran Mir Hazar
Monday 1 September 2008

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A symptom of the continuing collapse of human rights and freedom of speech in Afghanistan, much of which has been sanctioned by officials in the Karzai government, has been the harassment and abuse of journalists who present stories critical of the government. The following eight journalists have been suffering stress and financial hardship, due to on-going threats regarding their journalistic work. There are many more, which Kabulpress.org will continue to follow.

by Kamran Mir Hazar

Razaq Mamoon

Razaq Mamoon is one of Afghanistan’s best known writers and journalists. He worked for the BBC as a journalist, was editor of Radio Azadi, and hosted a well-known roundtable called “Discussion” for Tolo TV. He has authored three books, “Raz-e-Khabida”, a documented story about Dr. Najibullah, the late communist president, who was under U.N. protection at the time of his abduction and murder by a member of the Taliban, Abdul Khaliq, who killed dictator Nadir Khan. His third book is “Zelzela” or “Earthquake.” Currently, Razaq Mamoon is the chief editor of a daily paper, “Payman”.

Mamoon’s “Roundtable” on Tolo TV was an investigative news video magazine that challenged high ranking officials like finance minister Anwarulhaq Ahadi. Because of alleged continuing pressure from Karzai’s team and the president of the lower house of parliament, Younos Qanooni, Tolo TV and its managers, finally discharged Razaq Mamoon.

Now, no government nor non-governmental organization will employ him. High-ranking officials are pressuring the license holder and financer of “Payman” to discharge him. He expects to lose his job there soon.

Razaq Mamoon regularly receives death threats from different sources. The alleged murderer of Dr. Najibullah, Gharzai Khakhogi, who was incriminated by documents in Mamoon’s book, had allegedly planned to kill him. Khakhogi was working as the vice-mayor in Kabul and allegedly paid two terrorists to kill Mamoon. Security organizations discovered and foiled the plot.

Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada

Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada had a well-known program called “Mirror of the City” on Afghan National TV. In August, 2008, he was discharged from the network by cultural minister Karim Khoram. Akbarzada recently exposed corruption regarding the Intercontinental Hotel. It involved high ranking officials like national security advisor to the president, Zalmay Rasool, and commerce minister Mohamad Amin Farhang. President Hamid Karzai had granted a no-bid contract to operate the hotel to a company called Freecom for 30 years at only $100,000.00 per year. For four years The Intercontinental Hotel was contracted by Freecom costing millions of dollars in lost government revenue.

Akbarzada had also revealed that more than 120,000 square kilometers of land in the eastern province Nangarhar was provided to one of the land mafia, Nazib Zarab, by Karzai. Akbarzada still has documents showing evidence of that bribe. He is unemployed and was threatened by gunmen several times. He was targeted near the office of chief police in Kabul, but the attack was unsuccessful.

Mohammad Amin Haqjoo

Mohammad Amin Haqjoo is the director of a program on Afghan National TV called “Seeking the Truth.” His program follows cases of murder and kidnapping. He has been threatened several times by armed groups.

Mohammad Hakim Nazari Paryani

Paryani is the news editor of “Payman” newspaper. After publishing a document in “Payman,” that shows Mullah Omar had a hand in killing Mullah Dadullh, the spokesman of the Taliban, Mullah Zabihullah Mujahid called him and threatened him. A few days later, Paryani was stopped by two unknown persons close to his house in the Qale Zaman Khan area (where attackers of the Serena hotel were detained), who asked him to publish a news story that refuted the original. For more than fifteen days he was forced to live in his office or in a friend’s home. Unknown persons have visited his house and asked to see him. He is worried about the safety of his family.

Mobarak Shah Shahram

Shahram worked for Tolo TV on a political satire program called “Lahzaha.” He now works for the “Payman” newspaper. Very recently, persons who looked like Taliban and included a Pakistani man, tried to kidnap him while returning home via taxi. The area was Qala Zaman Khan in Kabul where most members of the Taliban and Hikmatyar’s group are located.

Sayed Nasir Taghadosi

Taghadosi is the chief editor of a newspaper called “Omid e Farda”. After publishing several critical articles about Karzai’s cabinet and the deteriorating political situation, government attorneys opened a case against him. He cannot find a job in government or nongovernmental organizations and faces financial difficulties.

Zahra Moosawi

Ms. Moosawi was a news announcer on Tolo TV, but after receiving various and continuing threats, she is now afraid to leave her home. She had worked for Radio Azadi for 5 years, and had a program called “Morabay e Morch” before joining Tolo TV. The situation for women journalists is deteriorating, and after receiving these threats, she felt forced to quit Tolo TV. She is an educated investigative journalist.

Soheila Weda Khamoosh

Ms. Shoheila Weda Khamoosh works for the “Cheragh” newspaper. Two years ago, when there was a large demonstration in Kabul against Americans, she wrote an article about how security services tortured children who were detained that day. She was detained in the attorney general’s office for half an hour and threatened with violence if she published the article. After it was published in Cheragh, she was threatened by unknown people via telephone. Soon after, a car she was riding in was closely followed by another without licenses plates. Last year, a school principal, Abdulhadi Dawi, attacked her after she had published a report that students were drinking alcohol in school on Teachers Day.

Last year when Khamoosh was preparing a report on document forgery in the office of Official Reform, she was attacked by Jamila Aman, an advisor in that office. Last year, she reported that the published book of the Afghan constitution was printed by the USAID in Pakistan. In that report she stated that Gohar, USAID’s media officer is a Pakistani. Soon after, she and her friends were put under surveillance by the Pakistani government. This year, she was threatened and cursed while at work by police in area number two of Kabul. She continues receiving threats from unknown people. Cars with blacked our windows regularly follow her on the street.

For information about how to help these journalists, go to the Foundation for Free Speech in Afghanistan.

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Forum posts

  • You basically say that Journilist belong to the Northern Alliance are treathened? By whom? Northern Allience is the most powerful terorist organzation in Kabul. They are everywhere in the security authorties. They hold 80% of the Gov jobs.

    You have published this article to help these people to take refuge in Western countries. Isn’t it?

    By the way most of these people when fired from their jobs was because they have some moral problems at work place like the first one (Raziq Mamon).

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