Eighty people – the number of journalists killed in Afghanistan in 13 years, from 1998 to the present. Six deaths have been reported so far in 2021. Most recently, Danish Siddiqui, Reuters’ Indian photojournalist with the international news agency Reuters. These figures from UNESCO alone are enough to show that the media in Afghanistan is a life-threatening bet. Taliban attacks often take the lives of journalists. The Taliban mainly target journalists who are sympathetic to the Afghan government or foreign media outlets. Afghanistan ranks 122nd in the 2021 Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Attacks on journalists have been on the rise for the past four and a half years, according to various media reports. The Taliban now see the media as their main rival. Most of the attacks on journalists were clearly aimed at themselves – NGOs argue. Danish Siddiqui is the recipient of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Best Journalism in the United States. With his death, the life and death struggles of journalists in Afghanistan have once again come under international discussion. The Taliban and Afghan security forces have been fighting on the border since US troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan. Siddiqui was killed in a firing spree in the Pakistani border town of Spoin Bodak, Reuters reports. In the aftermath of Siddiqui’s death, the Organization for Media Freedom wrote a letter to Joe Biden, President of the Media Coalition of the United States, and the Secretary of the Interior, including the CPJ, urging them to take immediate visa action to assist journalists working in Afghanistan.
Those killed in Afghanistan
Media freedom in the country began to wane in 1996, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. The Taliban have disrupted independent media by smashing television sets and banning filming, live reporting and editorial pages across the country. Later, only radio programs for religious propaganda and Taliban propaganda newspapers were allowed. The media sector, which was later revived by the arrival of US-NATO forces, remained a major threat to the Taliban for years. According to the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, about a thousand newspapers and news channels started operating during this period. This freedom is being lost again with the current military withdrawal. 2018 is the year when the blood of journalists has fallen the most. Sixteen people were killed by the Taliban that year, according to the CPJ. According to UNESCO, only 14% of cases have been completed. 44.9% of deaths are still a mystery. No group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the killings, according to Human Rights Watch, an international human rights watchdog that has targeted women in the media. The attacks on women journalists are not only a threat to their news, but also a violation of the Taliban’s radical Islamic values. Human Rights Watch reports, citing top Taliban leaders, that only media outlets and journalists who respect and recognize extreme Islamic values are allowed to operate. ****