IFJ concerned for safety of kidnapped journalists

September 21, 2005

IFJ concerned for safety of kidnapped journalists

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, is deeply concerned for the safety of a group of three people, including a journalist and a cameraman, who were kidnapped shortly before the recent elections in Afghanistan.

According to IFJ sources, on September 14 chief editor of weekly Bamyan, Mohammad Taqi Siraq, Kabul film production cameraman, Baseer Sarat, and Women’s Affairs Ministry worker, Shah Jan, were kidnapped by unidentified persons wearing military fatigues.

The group was in the Waygal district of the eastern Nuristan province a week before the election, preparing a video report on the region for the Women’s Affairs Ministry when they were kidnapped.

“The IFJ is very concerned about the safety of Sarat, Siraq and Jan. It is particularly worrying that the kidnapping appears to be politically motivated,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

“The high pressure intensity of elections and political ambitions are not license to threaten the independent media and journalists’ safety. The process of democracy is compromised when journalists are targeted with violence, abduction and intimidation in order to achieve political aims,” said the IFJ President.

“Authorities must put their full weight behind journalists’ rights and take action to bring the kidnapped group home safely. The government cannot simply ignore the fate of these journalists, it must take a strong stance against all attempts to silence the free and independent media,” said Warren.

The whereabouts and safety of the kidnapped group is unknown. However, according to IFJ sources, a local warlord may be responsible for the kidnappings.

The group was accompanied by Hawa Alam Nooristan, a journalist and election candidate, who was recently injured in a shooting attack during her election campaign in the region.

While the Nuristan governor’s spokesman was able to confirm the kidnapping, he said the kidnappers had not contacted the government with any demands.

The IFJ calls on the Afghan government to take a strong stance against all threats to the independence of the free media and to defend journalists’ rights and safety.

For further information contact Christopher Warren on +61 411 757 668.

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries