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OPC Protests Afghani Gag Order
H.E. Hamid Karzai
Gul Khana Palace
Islamic State of Afghanistan
Fax: (011.93.2) 252.6340
We are dismayed by last week’s order of your National Directorate of Security that local and international media must stop reporting from the scene of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.
According to the directorate’s spokesman, Said Ansari, “Live coverage does not benefit the government, but benefits the enemies of Afghanistan.” He cited Article 7 of the Internal Security Law of Afghanistan as grounds for the order, which follows a Taliban attack in the centre of Kabul on 27 February in which seventeen people were killed. The suicide operation highlighted the government’s weakness and the ability of the insurgents to strike at the heart of the capital. Rather than let that story be told, several journalists who were at the scene of the events were arrested and their equipment was confiscated.
Under last week’s order, journalists may not approach or report from the scene of such attacks until the initial investigation and government operations have finished and permission has been granted. Ansari said that this order is also for the protection of journalists, who might be injured if the scene was not completely secured.
Your Excellency, Afghanis have a right to be informed of what is happening in their country. Professional journalists are fully prepared to make decisions regarding their own safety. We can only conclude that our colleagues at Reporters Without Borders are correct in observing that the order is “a veiled bid to disguise the realities of the conflict and to conceal events that are not to the advantage of the government and coalition forces.”
The Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for more than seventy years, urges you to reverse this decision.
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
H.E. Said Tayeb Jawad
Ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Islamic State of Afghanistan
2118 Kalorama Road, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 483.6488
Ambassador Zahir Tanin
Permanent Mission of the Islamic State of Afghanistan to the United Nations
360 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 972.1216
H.E. Karl W. Eikenberry
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan
Embassy of the United States of America
The Great Mastoid Road, Kabul
Fax: (011.93.2) 230.1364
Ms. Jean MacKenzie
Afghanistan Programme Director
Institute for War & Peace Reporting