South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, strongly condemn the recent targeted killings of prominent figures including Journalists and rights activists in Afghanistan.
The killings have prompted a public outcry accusing the government of failing to protect its citizens despite ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban. The Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee said at least seven media personnel have been killed this year, including two journalists killed in separate bombings last month and five journalists have been killed in the past two months.
Since early November, a series of targeted armed attacks and bombings have claimed the lives of former TOLO news presenter Yama Siawash, Radio Azaadi reporter Elyas Daee, Enikass TV anchor Malalai Maiwand, Ariana News presenter Fardin Amini and head of the Ghazni Journalists’ Union Rahmatullah Nekzad. Among others in civil society women’s rights activist Freshta Kohistani, Executive Director of Free and Fair Election forum of Afghanistan Yousuf Rashid, the acting health director of the prison Nafeza Ibrahimi, and Deputy Governor of Kabul Mahboobullah Mohebi and his secretary were killed in the past three weeks.
There are daily attacks against civilians where over 65 persons have lost their lives, including women and children in the capital Kabul in recent weeks including two assaults on educational centres and a rocket attack. Additionally, at least 31 soldiers were killed in two separate suicide bombings that targeted a military base and a provincial chief. Three Kabul attacks were claimed by the armed group ISIL (ISIS) and no one has claimed responsibility for the rest of the attacks.
It is appalling that journalists and activists as well as common civilians are getting killed. We call on all parties of the conflict to respect International Humanitarian Law for the protection of civilians and to avoid targeted killings of unguarded civilians as a soft target for pursuing political aims in the peace talks or otherwise. We urge the Government of Afghanistan to take more serious steps in the protection of activists and journalists and investigate the claims made by victims and families regarding the failure of government in responding timely to complaints by the victims of possible threats.
We further urge the government to effectively investigate the recent killings and bring perpetrators to justice.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,
Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Dr. Roshmi Goswami