IJU urges GoI to help Afghan journos

NEW DELHI, 16 Aug: On the occasion of the first anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Afghanistan, the Indian Journalists Union (IJU) on 15 August expressed solidarity with the journalists and media workers who continue to face attacks, intimidation and arbitrary detainment.

As part of the International Federation of Journalists’ 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 External Affairs Minister 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 15 August, 2021 to 15 June, 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 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 that “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 exempt from these conditions.”

IJU President Geetartha Pathak and Secretary-General Sabina Inderjit said that “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 press freedom and fundamental rights.”

At the same time, the IJU urged journalists to extend their support by raising funds for the IFJ’s special Afghanistan Safety Fund.