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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

APRIL 16, 2004
Posted: April 23, 2004

Female journalists
Nangarhar TV
Jalalabad TV

In a move reminiscent of the former Taliban regime, the governor of the southeastern Nangarhar Province, Haji Din Mohammed, ordered a ban on women "performing" on television and radio, including women singing songs and women reporting the news, because it is "un-Islamic," according to international news reports.

Zubair Khaksar, the broadcasting director for Nangarhar TV, told Agence France-Presse that, "In the last two years we always had women news presenters and women songs on television, but now we have been told it is un-Islamic."

The Afghan Press Agency reports that the head of Jalalabad TV, Sayd Ghafar, also confirmed that the station had imposed the ban on women "in accordance with our official, religious, cultural, and traditional requirements."

However, the governor lifted the ban days later, apparently under pressure from President's Karzai's government, and women were back on the air, according to Reuters.

The ban likely came in response to Kabul TV's controversial decision to begin broadcasting in January performances of women singing traditional songs, which conservative members of the judiciary condemned. It was the first time that a woman singer had appeared on state television since 1992, according to the BBC.

Under the Taliban regime, television and print media were banned, and women were not allowed to work. Since 2002, Afghan women journalists have presented news programs and announced the news on television and radio.

MAY 9, 2003

Noriyuki Yamagashira, freelance

U.S. forces detained Japanese freelance photographer Yamagashira in the capital, Kabul, overnight, on the suspicion that he was a member of an anti-American group, according to the Kyodo News Service.

Yamagashira was taking photographs of local residents near a U.S. forces' facility in Kabul when a guard stopped him and asked about the pictures he was taking. According to Kyodo News Service, he was then taken inside the facility at gunpoint. Yamagashira says his request to contact the Japanese Embassy was declined. The 29-year-old was taken to his hotel, where U.S. forces searched his belongings. He was then transferred to a local police facility.

On May 10, a day later, Yamagashira was released and returned to Japan. He had entered Afghanistan on April 3.

JUNE 27, 2004
Posted: June 30, 2004

Salih Mohammed Salih, Hosey


Salih, the editor and chief reporter of the monthly magazine Hosey, was assaulted by soldiers from the Afghan national army at a checkpoint near the capital, Kabul. Hosey is a Pashto-language magazine focusing on the culture of Pashtuns, the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan.

According to Khalid Hadi, the magazine's publisher, Salih was bringing the entire print run of Hosey in a rented car from Pakistan, where the magazine is printed, to Kabul, where Hosey is based, when soldiers at a checkpoint stopped his car and searched it. When the soldiers looked through the magazine and saw that it was written in Pashto, they destroyed the magazines and attacked Salih, beating him with their hands and rifle butts. While the soldiers were assaulting him, they accused Salih of being a Pakistani and a member of al-Qaeda, Hadi told CPJ.

According to local sources, the Afghan army is dominated by ethnic Tajiks and members of other minority ethnic groups in Afghanistan. These groups are often biased against ethnic Pashtuns, whom they perceive as being loyal to the deposed Taliban government or to al-Qaeda.

The soldiers later released Salih, and his driver drove him to Kabul. Salih sustained back injuries in the attack and has trouble walking, according to Hadi. He visited a local clinic after the attack, Hadi said.

OCTOBER 21, 2004
Posted: November 16, 2004

Islamuddin Mayel, Balkh Radio & Television

A journalist, cameraman, and documentary filmmaker, Mayel was abducted, abused, and held by armed men for 10 days in northern Afghanistan following accusations that he stole a 2001 videotape allegedly implicating the troops of local warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum in war crimes, according to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and local journalists.

Mayel, one of many cameramen employed by Dostum in 2001, is now a reporter for the state-run Balkh Radio and Television based in Mazar-e-Sharif, the regional capital of the northern Balkh province. Mayel told IWPR that Dostum's armed supporters abducted him on October 21 from his home near the city, took him to a private prison in neighboring Jowzjan province, interrogated him, and tortured for 10 days. He was released on October 31.

The tape Mayel is alleged to have stolen is said to contain footage showing men under Dostum's command carrying out mass killings of captured Taliban troops at the end of 2001—both at Qala-ye-Jangi, which was used as Dostum's main army base, and at Dasht-e-Erganak. Some portions of the footage are thought to have been used in "Massacre in Mazar," a documentary by Irish journalist Jamie Doran that had limited distribution in Europe in December 2002.

A spokesman for Dostum, Faizullah Zaki, told the IWPR that Mayel was arrested by local security forces for stealing videotapes belonging to Dostum. Mayel denied taking or selling any tapes from the general's personal film archive. He said the general, who lost his bid for the presidency in October 9 elections, wanted to terrorize him because his knowledge of the secrets. Mayel was released after the BBC aired an interview with his son about his abduction.

Posted: December 9, 2004

Sultan Wali Wafa, Ghombasa

Merajudeen Patan, governor of southern Khost Province, closed the monthly satirical magazine Ghombasa (Wasp) after it ran a spoof interview with him, according to international news reports and sources close to the editors. Patan ordered all copies of the magazine to be confiscated and destroyed, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). Local police also detained and intimidated a student contributor to the magazine and briefly detained a bookseller who stocked the magazine, according to AFP.

"These journalists that published Ghombasa are illiterates and disrespected me," Patan told AFP on December 1.

After shuttering the magazine, local police surrounded the house of Sultan Wali Wafa, a student contributor to the publication, an editor told AFP. They threatened his family and went on to Alftha High School, where they arrested him in front of his classmates and teacher. Police detained and interrogated Wafa about the identity of the editors, who write under pseudonyms and remain in hiding from authorities.

A 12-page magazine, Ghombasa has written critically about local and national government policy and published satirical profiles of candidates in October's presidential election.