CJFE Calls for Investigation into Murdered Journalists in Afghanistan

Thursday, June 7, 2007
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is horrified by the news of a second female journalist murdered in the past week in Afghanistan. Radio reporter Zakia Zaki was killed on June 5 and television reporter Shokiba Sanga Amaaj was killed on June 1. Zakia Zaki was the head of private radio station Sada-e-Sulh (Peace Radio) from the northern province of Pawan. It broadcast programs dealing with education, human rights and women's rights. Two men allegedly entered through her bedroom window, and shot her seven times. None of her six children were harmed including her baby who was sleeping in her bed at the time of the murder. The independent Association of Afghan Journalists described Zaki as "independent and courageous," and said that she had received death threats and demands to take the station off the air. 22-year old Shokiba Sanga Amaaj was a popular reporter and host for Shamshad Television. "The development of a vibrant press in Afghanistan that includes male and female reporters and editors has been one of the real success stories since the overthrow of the Taliban," stated CJFE President Arnold Amber. "The government must do everything in its power to bring these murderers to justice and protect the safety of all its journalists." CJFE is extremely concerned about these murders which may be intended to send a warning to other female journalists working in Afghanistan. Since the end of Taliban rule five and a half years ago, the number of Afghan women working in journalism and communications has grown to an estimated thousand. It is vital that while these women are bravely stepping into new and often very visible roles in the broadcast and print media, that women's rights and their participation in civil society is fully supported, especially by the government. Two journalists with extensive backgrounds in Afghanistan, Canadian Jane McElhone and Khorshied Samad have mounted a photographic exhibition called "Voices on the Rise: Afghan Women Making the News", which provides a look into the lives of Afghan women journalists , producers, managers, writers, photographers and filmmakers. It will be shown at the Alliance Française in Toronto from June 15 to July 5. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is an association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, producers, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world.

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