The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is gravely disturbed by the June 6 murder of Zakia Zaki, head of the radio station Sada-e-Sulh (Peace Radio) in the Jabulsaraj district of Parwan province.
According to local reports, three armed men broke into Zaki’s home and shot her seven times with two different types of arms while she was sleeping with her baby less than six months old and her two-year-old son.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park expressed the IFJ’s anger and grief, saying that it was “almost impossible to comprehend the tragic nature of Zaki’s death, especially when it is compounded with the murder of Shamshad TV’s Shokiba Sanga Amaaj one week ago”.
Zaki had managed Sada-e-Sulh since its inception before 2001, and was one of four prominent female Afghani journalists featured in a documentary called If I Stand Up, co-produced by UNESCO, on International Women's Day in March 2005.
She had reportedly received death threats before, relating to her criticism of the warlords who control the area. Her radio station was the only independent station in Parwan and broadcast on issues such as human rights, women’s rights and education - Zaki was also head of a local school.
“Something must be done to curb the violence plaguing journalists in Afghanistan, and particularly female journalists,” Park said.
“The country’s situation is never going to improve if the government does not take steps to ensure the people who would commit such crimes are punished appropriately.”
Another journalist from the radio station, Abdul Qudoos, recently spent a year in prison on charges of shootings at Samia Sadat, a female MP from Parwan province who had allegedly tried to get the station shut down because she believed that it was an instrument of propaganda for her political adversaries.
“The government of Afghanistan needs to clarify that they support freedom of expression, which includes media outlets that are not afraid to broadcast controversial opinions,” Park said.
The IFJ extends its sympathies to Zaki’s family and calls for every effort to be made towards apprehending her killers.
In other news, a local independent radio station in the Karabagh district of Kabul Province was seized by Khwaja Abdul Rahim, the district chief of Karabagh, who banned the owner and manager from entering, beat up staff members, and took the station equipment.
The station transmits educational, entertainment, current event, sport, and religious news to an area of about 70 kilometres.
The IFJ extends its support and solidarity to the family of Zaki and joins with the Committee to Protect Afghan Journalists (CPAJ) and the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), to demand that her murderers be brought to justice, as well as the killers of Shokiba Sanga Amaaj.
“Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks are very effective in promoting self-censorship, which is exactly what they are aimed to do, and the global community cannot stand by and allow innocent people to die for such an ugly purpose,” Park said.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries