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Afghan Journalists Report Violence Among Media Outlets

Nabil Miskinyar
Nabil Miskinyar
KABUL -- Afghan media officials say an unhealthy competition currently exists among many of the country's media organizations, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Ahmad Zia Bumiya, chairman of the South Asian Free Media Association in Afghanistan, says his organization has received numerous complaints about the use of intimidation, violence, and censorship against media organizations in the country.

"We have heard of one news agency that offered journalists from other organizations bribes and unlawful incentives to quit their jobs and work for them. We have also heard of agencies sending their journalists to spy on their rivals," he said.

Bumiya said, "We are calling on the central government and other authorities to monitor the activities of the media so this unhealthy rivalry is stopped and prevented in the future."

A journalist from TV1, who spoke to RFE/RL on condition of anonymity, said he was attacked by a member of Tolo TV, one of TV1's rivals, during the recent Taliban attacks in Kabul in which six militants launched assaults against Afghan and international forces.

"I was taking a photo when one of [TV1's] security guards came over and attacked me," he said. "The guard repeatedly kicked and punched me. He took my camera and returned it to me only after he cleaned the memory card."

Afghan analysts say the majority of media organizations in Afghanistan are owned by jihadists or powerful members of the government, while others are funded by foreign countries that have a political, economic, or military stake in Afghanistan.

Bumiya said that these competing agendas may be the reason for the intense and increasingly unlawful rivalry within the Afghan media.

"Most of the media organizations have affiliations with a certain ethnic group, a linguistic group, or a political party," he said. "They all want to promote their own views and agendas at the expense of their rivals."

The incident involving the TV1 journalist follows an attack on Nabil Miskinyar, an Afghan-American journalist, when he recently visited Kabul.

Miskinyar who regularly appears on his California-based Ariana Afghanistan Television and comments on the war-torn country's current affairs, said that on September 12 he met with Najibullah Kabuli, owner of the private Emrooz Television channel.

Miskinyar, known for critical pieces on some of the most powerful political figures in Afghanistan, told RFE/RL he was forced at gunpoint to conduct an interview with Emrooz TV journalist Fahim Kohdamani.

"He told me that 'on your television shows, you always criticize and say bad things about the leaders of the national resistance,'" Miskinyar said, referring to former mujahedin leaders such as Ahmad Shah Masud, Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, and former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah.

In a statement released on September 16, Miskinyar said he was told to confess that he was an American agent, a supporter of Pakistan, and anti-Iranian.

"Kohdamanib told me that I would die and my entire family would be killed if I did not respond as they demanded," Miskinyar said. "Under intense pressure and in fear of my life, I told them what they wanted me to say while they videotaped an 'interview.'"

Miskinyar says that he was held for seven hours after the interview and was then blindfolded and left on a Kabul street. "Fortunately, I was able to find my way back to my family and leave the country," he said in a statement.