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Afghanistan: 'Threats Forced One Reporter To Leave His Job'


http://gdb.rferl.org/9D7605F0-FA03-4C9F-AFCA-6ED704216950_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9D7605F0-FA03-4C9F-AFCA-6ED704216950_mw800_mh600.jpg Helmand Province has seen much of the recent upsurge in violence (epa) May 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Akbar Ayazi, director of RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, discusses the perils of reporting on the conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban.


"A few months ago our correspondent in Khost, Amir Bahir, was actually attending the funeral of the governor of Khost Province, who was killed in a suicide bomb just the day before. At the funeral another suicide bomb took place and hurt [our reporter] and actually threw him.


"Luckily he didn't get injured seriously. He's doing a great job and he's a brave guy and still there. We do face dangers like this.


"We have had many difficult situations. The most violence taking place in the country is in Helmand Province, where we have a very brave reporter, Saleh Mohammad Saleh, who has received numerous threats on his telephone -- text messages, telephone calls -- not only him, but his family.


Threats From The Taliban


"Most of the time our initial remedy for such a problem is to send the reporter to exile for a week or two to calm things down and then he goes back.

'If they don't find things to their liking they always go after our reporters and ask them to give reports to their liking'

"In one instance the Taliban even threatened and [told[ him this was their last message to him, and the Taliban even asked me, the director of Radio Free Afghanistan, to talk to them. Also we had the situation in the Kandahar Province where our reporters were threatened.


"Even in Pakistan, I have a reporter in Quetta, I have the audio of that, someone calling and saying, 'You're reporting for Radio Free Afghanistan and we're not happy with your reporting and it should be your last report.'


Pressure From All Sides


"The other incident I had was that one of our reporters in Quetta, Pakistan, was practically forced to leave the job because of numerous threats that he received. He was arrested on the border by the Pakistani authorities, he was interrogated, and it reached the point where the guy said, 'I'm giving up,' and we had to hire another reporter.


"It's not only the Taliban side, sometimes our reporters get under pressure from the warlords, from the drug lords, from government officials, if they don't find things to their liking they always go after our reporters and ask them to give reports to their liking. So that is unfortunately a big dilemma in Afghanistan, and our people are facing really big problems."

RFE/RL Afghanistan Report


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