Several media institutions in Afghanistan on Sunday raised concerns over what they described as government’s deliberate attempts to impose restrictions on live coverage of terrorism-related violence in the country.
They said government was trying to censor the media.
Media organizations vowed to resist any type of pressure by government to impose restrictions on the industry, saying media freedom constitutes a red line for them.
On the rising threats facing the journalist community in Afghanistan, representatives of media institutions said instead of curbing threats against journalists and investigating the killing of media workers government is instead trying to impose restrictions on the sector.
Media organizations say government in collaboration with certain people, who claim to be representatives of the media, are trying to add an extra regulation in terms of limitations and restrictions of live coverage of terrorism-related activities.
“The government does not have the will to support the media and the journalists. Press freedom and freedom of speech are the last pillars of the democratic process in Afghanistan, we believe that the government is trying to breakdown the main pillars of this process,” said Hamid Poya, chairman of Media Bazar Organization.
“The media, has had over 100 staff members killed or wounded in the past 15 or 16 years and hundreds more have been displaced, now we cannot suppress it (media) or impose restrictions on the orders of a few people who do not like live broadcasting,” said Mawlana Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan Radio & Television Union (ARTU).
This comes after 11 journalists were killed in the country last month – in three separate incidents.
One journalist was gunned down in Kandahar and another was shot six days later in Khost province. However nine journalists were killed in Kabul in a single explosion.
“In the second explosion (two weeks ago) which led to the martyrdom of journalists, was it a suicide attack or the result of pre-embedded material? These are among the dangerous questions which are circulating in our minds. Based on the law, the government does not have pre and post broadcast censorship rights,” said Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada, chairman of the Afghanistan National Journalists Union.
Hujjatullah Mujadadi, chairman of the Afghanistan Freelance Journalists Union meanwhile said: “These cases make the situation worse than in the past, the violence will increase and the working environment for journalists will become limited in the provinces.”
On April 30, a coordinated double suicide bombing claimed by the Daesh militant group hit central Kabul, killing at least 25 people, including nine Afghan journalists.
The journalists were killed after they rushed to cover the aftermath of the first blast in the area.