Afghanistan: High profile woman radio boss murdered



    MONTREAL, June 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders today voiced
deep shock at the murder overnight of Zakia Zaki, a leading figure among
Afghanistan's independent journalists.
    Two armed men broke into the family home of the head of radio Sada-e-Sulh
(Peace Radio) in Jabalussaraj, in the northern province of Parwan, and gunned
her down in front of her two-year-old son, firing seven bullets before
fleeing.
    Zakia Zaki, who was 35, had run the radio since it was founded in 2001
and was also head of a local school. She had received several death threats
after openly criticising warlords and the Taliban.
    "Whether this savage act was linked to her work as a journalist or her
civic responsibilities, it is vital that those who responsible for this murder
should be quickly identified and punished," the worldwide press freedom
organisation said.
    "We urge President Hamid Karzai to commit all the necessary resources to
ensure a successful outcome to the investigation and to leave no stone
unturned." An investigation has been opened but no particular lead was being
given priority.
    "The head of Sada-e-Sulh had received several threats and her struggle
for freedom of expression and women's liberation were exemplary," the
organisation said.
    Zakia Zaki liked to refer to Sada-e-Sulh as "a community home for the
residents, the only place where they dare to express themselves freely". It is
the only independent radio in Parwan province and broadcasts mainly on issues
such as human rights, education and women's rights.
    The radio's staff face constant harassment. One of its journalists, Abdul
Qudoos, spent a year in prison after his arrest in February 2006 for an
alleged murder attempt, on the basis of a false accusation from a woman deputy
Samia Sadat. Zaki was Samia Sadat's main rival at legislative elections and
Sadat had tried to get the radio shut down, viewing it as an instrument of
propaganda of her political adversaries.
    In an interview with a Reporters Without Borders' delegation which
visited Afghanistan in 2002, Zaki said she had received death threats from
several Mujahideen chiefs. Local leaders of the Jamiat-e-islami had banned her
from interviewing women in the street for her broadcasts.
    A portrait of the journalist was included in a documentary called "If I
stand up"", co-produced by UNESCO, on International Women's Day in March 2005
as one of four eminent women journalists in Afghan society. She was a member
of the Constituent Assembly in 2003.




For further information:

For further information: Emily Jacquard, Directrice générale, Reporters
Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514) 521-7771,
rsfcanada@rsf.org

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