CJFE Mourns Death of Afghan Journalist, Javed Yazamy

Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) mourns news today that Afghan journalist Javed Yazamy was killed in a shooting. Javed, known as Jojo to many, including Canadian journalists at CTV, Canadian Press and other media organizations that he worked with, was mainly employed as a cameraman, translator and fixer for CTV. It has been reported that the 23-year old journalist was in his vehicle when another car pulled alongside and a gunman opened fire. Jojo was known for his persistence. The Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith tells of Jojo "suffering broken bones in a vehicle accident but returning to work the next day to record footage of a bombing scene in Kandahar city." Canadian journalist and CJFE member Carol Off said "Jojo's murder is a great loss to all who knew him. And for those who didn't know him personally, we have lost a dedicated journalist who contributed greatly to our understanding of what is going in Afghanistan." Despite his youth, Jojo had already faced more than many journalists will face in a life-time. He was freed on September 21, 2008, after spending almost 11 months in an American military prison at Kandahar and at the main U.S. military base at Bagram, near Kabul. No reason was ever given for his arrest, although he was publicly named as an "enemy combatant" by US authorities. Media organizations like CTV and the New York Times vouched for his credibility. Jojo reported that he was repeatedly interrogated and beaten during his time in prison. After his release, Jojo told reporters that "It was Canadians who told them I was a risk." At a CJFE event in December 2008, CTV South Asia bureau chief, Paul Workman along with CBC journalist Mellissa Fung, paid a tribute to the fixers that they worked with in Afghanistan, including Jojo. They pointed out that these journalists who put their lives on the line to protect the foreign journalists they worked with, were often themselves in grave danger, and could be targeted by local warlords who saw them as traitors because of their work with foreigners. "Jojo was a man who lived on the edge in a dangerous place," said Workman, speaking today on "As It Happens", a CBC radio show. "He took enormous risks to tell the story."

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