2017 was the bloodiest and deadliest year in history for journalists and media workers in Afghanistan, according to the new 6-month report issued by the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee. It paints a gloomy picture of the future of reporting and free media amid the country’s insecurity and instability, and states that an “unprecedented increase” in both threats and violence toward media could silence expression altogether.
At a time when a sitting US president consistently attacks media for reporting facts, violence and threats against journalists in the US-led war in Afghanistan increased by 67% over 2016. Twenty journalists were killed in 2017, all were killed by ISIS or Taliban. Thirteen were killed the prior year.
The report explains that many journalists are targeted because they refuse to broadcast or publish the demands terrorist groups who seek to propagate their “ideological and war messages.”
The upsurge in attacks against media have been taking place in Kabul and other northern and eastern provinces, with less activity in the southern provinces. In 61 cases, media workers were wounded, 7% of the media workers targeted were women.
It seems clear after 16 years of U.S. occupation, that American politicians are unable to resolve the war in Afghanistan.
After the initial US occupation in 2001/02, the Taliban was largely defeated, then President G.W. Bush sent US forces to Iraq and mostly forgot about Afghanistan, or so it seemed.
I arrived in Afghanistan in 2006 for a two-month reporting stint and saw a nation that might have emerged from the ashes if the US had simply addressed the population’s humanitarian needs.
Under the conditions imposed by Washington neither the Afghans or the Americans ever stood a chance at bringing peace to this embattled nation, and now we learn that even reporters have become fair game.
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