JERAA calls for urgent action to support Afghan journalists



The Journalism Research and Education Association of Australia (JERAA) urges the Australian Government to make a strong commitment to supporting journalists and media personnel in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of international forces.

JERAA endorses the calls of the International Federation of Journalists and Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance for the Federal Government to take urgent action to provide humanitarian visas and other support for Afghan journalists and media workers attempting to flee the country.

In the current upheaval, it is difficult to obtain figures on how many journalists have already been attacked. The Afghan Independent Journalist Association (AIJA) and Afghanistan’s National Journalists Union (ANJU) express great concern for the well-being of journalists and media personnel.

Nai, an Afghan organisation supporting independent media, released figures indicating that by late July, at least 30 media workers had been killed, wounded or tortured in Afghanistan since the beginning of 2021.

UNESCO has recorded five deaths of journalists in Afghanistan in 2021, making it the country with the world’s greatest number of journalists’ deaths this year. Four have been women, reflecting the higher risk of attacks on female journalists.

Current figures are likely to be incomplete due to the challenges of obtaining information. They do not include deaths of professionals in related industries, such as the murder of the director of the Afghan Government Media and Information Centre on August 6.

The Taliban has a long-established pattern of striking out against journalists. A Human Rights Watch report, released in April 2021, in the lead up to the US and NATO troop withdrawal, noted that Taliban forces had already established a practice of targeting journalists and other media workers.

Journalists were intimidated, harassed and attacked routinely by the Taliban, which regularly accused them of being aligned with the Afghan government or international military forces or being spies.

Female journalists now face a higher level of threat, especially if they have appeared on television and radio.

International Press Institute figures, released in May 2021 at the commencement of the United States and NATO troop withdrawals, also showed that Afghanistan had the highest rate of deaths of journalists in the world. The IPI expressed extreme concern for Afghanistan’s journalism corps.

Image: Leading Afghan journalist Najiba Ayubi, managing of the Killid Media Group, at a historic 2020 meeting in Doha with the Taliban to discuss the future of media and freedom of expression. via IAWRT

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