KABUL (Tolo News): The family of former TOLOnews presenter Yama Siawash rejected First Vice President Amrullah Saleh’s claim that security forces have arrested an “11-member Taliban cell responsible for numerous bombings” including murder of former Afghan journalist Yama Siawash.
“It all started with a tip from an informant and enabled Kabul police department to identify, locate and apprehend an 11 member Talib terror cell responsible for numerous bombings including murder of iconic Yama Siawash on Nov 7. Dozens of sticky bombs and IED found in their caches,” Saleh tweeted. “We have invited media community, human rights organizations, civil society activists and advocacy groups to see the files, interview the terrorists and fulfill the wish of the grieving families,” he said.
But Siawash’s family has accused of the government of making contrary statements about the killing of their son. Siawash’s family said that they will not accept these claims unless the government provides credible evidence. “Some members of this network have confessed their involvement in murders and targeted killings in Kabul, including the killing of Yama Siawash,” said Ahmad Zia Warsaji, a member of the media office of First Vice President.
“The Minister of Interor came to me on December 15, 2020, and told me that one suspect had been arrested. The second time, the head of the NDS came to our home on the 27th of December and said that one man was arrested and has confessed, but after months and after several rounds of contradictions you come and say that a group has been arrested, I don’t know how many groups kill a single person for how many times,” asked Dawood Siawash, the father of Yama Siawash. “We should be confident that those arrested were involved in the case, the process needs to be chased by the legal bodies and (the perpetrators) must be punished by the courts,” said Sediqullah Tawhidi, a member of of the Journalists’ Safety Committee.
“If there is no evidence to show direct involvement in the killing of Yama Siawash, then we believe that the government is making the same claim it has made in the past,” said Mujib Khalwatgar, the head of the NAI. Siawash, who worked as media adviser of the Central Bank and was a former TOLOnews’ presenter, as well as Hamdullah Anas, the deputy head of the Central Bank office, and Aminullah Rezadee, a driver at the bank, were killed in the explosion that targeted their vehicle in Makrorayan-e-Char area in downtown Kabul on November 7, 2020.
According to a recent report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, at least 11 human rights defenders and media workers were killed in targeted attacks in Afghanistan from September 2020 through to January 31, 2021. A total of 65 human rights defenders and media professionals were killed in the period from January 1, 2018, to January 31, 2021, it said.
On April 2, Human Rights Watch accused the Taliban of “deliberately targeting journalists and other media workers, including women,” in Afghanistan, saying that such attacks and threats have increased sharply since the start of the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha.
The watchdog says these attacks increase concerns about preserving freedom of expression and the media in any peace settlement. Human Rights Watch (HRW) says it has found that “the Taliban commanders and fighters have engaged in a pattern of threats, intimidation, and violence against members of the media in areas where the Taliban have significant influence, as well as in Kabul.”