Tuesday 15 September 2009

Afghan journalists want inquiry into killing of Sultan Munadi and compensation for his family

A blog by Bob Dietz, the Committee to Protect Journalists' Asia program coordinator, says a large group of Afghan journalists met on Sunday in Kabul, angry about the death of Sultan Munadi, the Afghan journalist killed in the military raid which rescued New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell from the Taliban.
After the meeting, they sent Dietz a list of demands in a statement and a biography of Munadi stressing he was one of Afghan's few multi-media journalists.
He says: "The group calls for a full accounting of how and why Munadi was killed. They’ve called on the Afghan government, NATO, the U.N., the International Security Assistance Force, the British government, and international nongovernmental organizations to come up with the answers. They want the Afghan government to press for those answers. And they want compensation paid to Munadi’s family."
Dietz writes: "There is a history to this situation, a very ugly one, and an explanation about why Afghan journalists are angry enough to take such unified action. In Helmand province in March 2007, another Afghan-foreign team of reporters, La Repubblica reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo, local journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi, and their driver, Sayed Agha, were kidnapped. Agha was beheaded a few days after the abduction. The Italian Mastrogiacomo was released March 19 in exchange for five Taliban prisoners. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was criticized for having made the deal. He said he did so because Italy has 1,800 troops in Afghanistan and because Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi had personally asked him to work for the release, according to international media reports. Despite an apparent agreement to release Naqshabandi as well, his captors eventually beheaded him too."
He adds: "The link to Munadi is chilling: In his account of the kidnapping in The New York Times, Farrell said they were given food, water, and blankets and not harmed while they were held. But, as their capture continued, Munadi was increasingly taunted by their captors, reminding him of the case of Ajmal Naqshbandi."
Dietz takes a positive from Sunday's meeting: "Maybe the remembrance of Munadi, who had a deep streak of sensibility, and the unified actions taken in response to his death can provide the impetus to begin bringing all of the country’s journalists together. It would be a fitting way to pay tribute to a respected senior figure like him."

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