Afghanistan - Impunity in radio station director's murder one year ago opens way for new wave of violence against women journalists



    MONTREAL, June 5 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by
the failure to punish the murder of Zakia Zaki, the director Sada-e-Solh
(Peace Radio), exactly one year ago. Her husband tells the organisation there
has been no progress in the official investigation, probably because of
pressure from those who ordered her murder. Zaki was shot in her home in
Jabalussaraj, in the northern province of Parwan, in the early hours of 6 June
2007.
    "Today we pay tribute to an outstanding woman who was one of the symbols
of the renaissance of independent media in Afghanistan," Reporters Without
Borders said. "We support her family's efforts to keep her memory alive and to
demand justice."
    The organisation added: "The impunity in this case is outrageous and has
paved the way for a new wave of violence against women journalists. More than
15 Afghan women journalists have been attacked, threatened or reduced to
silence since her murder. We call for an immediate reaction from the Afghan
government."
    Zaki's family, including her husband, Abdul Alah Ranjbar, were today due
to inaugurate a culture centre bearing her name in Jabalussaraj in the
presence of Afghan and foreign officials. "It is what she wanted and she had
begun the work before she was killed," Ranjbar said. "It was up to me and my
family to keep her memory alive. I think that since her murder, women
journalists have been afraid and the impunity has helped to scare her
colleagues."
    Najiba Ayubi, the head of the TKG press group, takes the same view. "The
failure to complete the investigation into Zakia Zaki's death has been the
source of a great deal of despair among journalists, especially women
journalists," she said. "Without hope for the future, our lives are marked by
fear."
    Another woman journalist, Farida Nekzad of the Pajhwok news agency,
agreed that journalists had been marked by the murder of Zaki, who was her
friend. "When someone is killed and no one is brought to trial and nothing is
done to stop the threats and violence, it can happen all over again."
    Six suspects were initially arrested after Zaki's murder but they were
released. The security forces have not conducted any serious investigation.
    Her family and colleagues say those who ordered her murder have
sufficient influence to ensure that the investigation goes nowhere. The
promises made by the interior minister after her murder have not been kept.
The authorities had blamed the Taliban but some of Zaki's relatives and
friends thinks local warlords were responsible.
    The murder was carried out by at least two men who entered her home and
shot her seven times in the presence of her two-year-old son. Zaki, who was
also a school principal, like to say that her radio station was "a home for
the community's residents, the only place where they dare to speak freely."
She and her staff had often been threatened by local warlords.
    The latest woman journalist to be physically attacked in Afghanistan
because of her work is Nilofar Habibi, a presenter on Herat TV, a local public
television station. Habibi has just been given temporary refuge by the Doha
Centre for Media Freedom.
    "I finally feel I am in a safe place and out of danger," Habibi said on
arriving in Doha. "But I fear for the journalists I work with. Attacks on
freedom of expression are on the increase in Afghanistan, especially against
women journalists."




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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