Kabul, Aug 20, 2021, Indiablooms
Journalists and their families are in grave danger in Afghanistan, with the Taliban having no compunction about carrying out targeted killings of journalists working for foreign media, says German state-owned international broadcaster Deutsche Welle or DW.
Citing the case of its own journalist, who fled Kabul, DW said that the Taliban militants hunting him shot dead one member of his family and seriously injured another.
The Taliban were conducting a house-to-house search in western Afghanistan to try and find the journalist, who now works in Germany, DW said on Thursday.
The other relatives of the journalist were able to escape at the last moment and are now on the run. DW's director general, Peter Limbourg, has issued a strong condemnation and called on the German government to take action.
"The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban in Herat yesterday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves. It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time," DW said.
The events of the last few days and weeks make this very clear. The Taliban have raided the homes of at least three DW journalists, Nematullah Hemat of the private television station Gharghasht TV is believed to have been kidnapped by the Taliban, and Toofan Omar, the head of the private radio station Paktia Ghag Radio, was, according to government officials, targeted and shot dead by Taliban fighters, the report said.
Two men, also presumably Taliban, shot and killed the translator Amdadullah Hamdard, a frequent contributor to Germany's Die Zeit newspaper, on Aug 2 in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, right on the street.
A month ago, India’s well-known photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Danish Siddiqui was killed by the Taliban in Kandahar.
DW has joined the Federal Association of German Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), Die Zeit, Der Spiegel, Deutschlandradio, dpa, Reporters Without Borders, Stern, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, taz, RTL, n-tv and Arte in publishing an open letter, calling on the German government to set up an emergency visa programme for Afghan staff.
The German Journalists' Association (DJV) has also called on the German government to take swift action, given that stringers who worked for Western media are now being hunted down.
"Germany must not stand idly by while our colleagues are persecuted and even murdered," said Frank Überall, the DJV chairman. He said that saving these journalists right now and offering them refuge in Germany was absolutely essential.
In the Taliban’s first press conference, group spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid struck a conciliatory tone, and sought to reassure the international community that they wanted to work with everybody.
"Let me remind you that we forgive everyone, because it is in the interest of peace and stability in Afghanistan. All the groups that were confronting us are all forgiven," he claimed.
But the Taliban have already clearly demonstrated what these statements are worth.
The organization Reporters Without Borders has therefore called on the UN Security Council to hold an informal special session to address the perilous situation of journalists in Afghanistan.