Mural painted in protest against killing of journalists

KABUL (Tolo News): A deaf Afghan painter named Milad Mohammadi has painted the portrait of former TOLOnews’ presenter Yama Siawash on a wall in Kabul city to protest the recent attacks on journalists in Afghanistan. The painter describes the journalists as the heroes of press freedom in Afghanistan, asking the Afghan government to probe the murder of journalists.

Meanwhile, a number of journalists and members of the civil society in various provinces signed a petition asking the UN Security Council to task a commission to probe cases of murders of Afghan journalists. “The journalists are those people who raise up show the pain of the people,” said Ghulam Jailani, the father of the artist. “The UN Security Council should task a neutral commission to probe the murder of journalists and members of the civil society–including the killing of Yama Siawash. The UN Security Council should task a neutral body to assess the CC footage of the Central Bank of Afghanistan,” said a civil society activist.

“The people need to know why the journalists are being targeted and killed, why the voice of freedom is being terminated,” said Zahir Nekzad, a journalist. The increase in targeted killings of journalists and members of civil society organizations in recent months has sparked protests across the country.

Activists in the provinces of Jawzjan, Helmand, Herat, Bamiyan and Parwan accused the government of neglecting the attacks on the Afghan journalism community and civil society activists. They signed a petition in which they asked the UN Security Council to launch an independent investigation into these murders and put the Afghan government under pressure to respond.

Last week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated that the Afghan government does not have the capacity to investigate the murder cases of Afghan journalists, and that the organization will lodge a complaint with the International courts. This comes as the Afghan government claims that the Taliban were behind the attacks on the Afghan journalists, something the Taliban has always denied.

The Taliban on Wednesday released a statement in which the group rejected any involvement in the spate of targeted killings that have taken the lives of many journalists and civil society activists in the country. Afghanistan is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

In 2016, the Taliban targeted a vehicle of Moby Group, which owns TOLO TV and TOLOnews, and killed seven of its employees. Those who lost their lives in 2020 are: Safar Mohammad Atal, an anchor of Samson Radio in Helmand; Ahmad Khan Nawid, an anchor of Ghor Radio in Feroz Koh city; Mir Wahid Shah Amiri, Khorshid TV reporter in Kabul; Shafiq Zabih, a cameraman at Khorshid TV; Elyas Daee, a Radio Azadi reporter in Helmand; Malala Maiwand, Eekas TV anchor in Nangarhar; Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance reporter in Ghazni; Tahir Khan, a driver at Enekas TV in Nangarhar. On the first day of 2021, a reporter, Bismillah Adil Aimaq, was killed in an attack by unknown armed men in Ghor. He was head of a local radio station in the province.