NEW DELHI, Aug 16: On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan on Monday, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) expressed its solidarity with journalists and media workers continuing to face attacks, intimidation and arbitrary detainment. As part of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) global action to save at-risk Afghan media workers, the IJU urged the Government of India to streamline its visa application process and increase the humanitarian intake.
In a letter to Union Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, the IJU drew his attention to the grim fact that since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, both media rights and human rights violations have become increasingly prevalent and the status of journalists in Afghanistan has reached a critical point. An estimated 1,000 journalists have fled the country.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Report documented 173 human rights violations from August 15, 2021 to June 15, 2022, with the Taliban responsible for 163. These violations included 122 instances of arbitrary arrest and detention, 33 instances of threats and intimidation and six killings. With the Taliban and other terrorist organisations receiving impunity for the crimes against journalists, the IFJ in its South Asia Press Freedom Report documented 75 media rights violations in Afghanistan, including 12 killings and 30 arrests, from May 2021 to April 2022.
The IJU also said, “Under Taliban rule, the rights of women have been quickly and severely eroded. An Amnesty International Report has recorded widespread harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention, and widespread, inhumane restrictions. Women working in journalism have not been exempted from these conditions”
IJU president and former member of Press Council of India, Geetartha Pathak and secretary general, vice president of IFJ and president, FAPaJ Sabina Inderjit said the government of India must respond to this humanitarian crisis by granting asylum status to our colleagues and their families in need of a safe space, in the name of the press freedom and fundamental rights. At the same time, the IJU urged journalists to extend their support by raising funds for IFJ special Afghanistan Safety Fund.