In Afghanistan: “We Are Going To Continue With Our Normal Reporting”

The AP on the Afghan Foreign Ministry’s recent “demand” (“request?”) that Afghan journalists “avoid ‘broadcasting any incidence of violence’ between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on election day ‘to ensure the wide participation of the Afghan people’:”’

Afghan journalists on Wednesday rejected a Foreign Ministry demand that they suspend the broadcasting of news about attacks or violence on election day, accusing the government of unconstitutional censorship…

Afghanistan’s active local media — the country has a host of newspapers, radio stations and television news outlets — condemned the statement as stifling freedom of the press that was supposed to have returned after the ouster of the Taliban in 2001.

”We will not obey this order. We are going to continue with our normal reporting and broadcasting of news,” said Rahimullah Samander, head of the Independent Journalist Association of Afghanistan.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Fleur Cowan said the U.S. acknowledged the sovereign rights of the Afghan government but believed that free media reporting ”is directly linked to the credibility of the elections.”…

On Wednesday, reporters who rushed to the site of an attack on a bank in Kabul were beaten back by police, who hit photographers with pistols and threatened them by pointing loaded rifles in their faces, according to journalists from The Associated Press at the scene. At least one photographer’s camera was broken in the melee, during which police also attacked civilians. One officer beat a man with a baton, AP journalists said.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.