Friday, May 02, 2003

Sharp Rise In Press Attacks In Afghanistan - Not Limited To The War In Iraq
Attacks and threats against Afghan journalists have increased sharply in recent weeks, Human Rights Watch said today, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, which is May 3. Afghan security personnel have created a pervasive climate of fear in which journalists are afraid to openly publish articles that criticize leaders.

"Press freedom in Afghanistan is under assault," said John Sifton, a researcher in the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. "Army, police and intelligence forces are delivering death threats and arresting Afghan journalists, effectively silencing them."

Many of the threats and arrests have occurred after journalists have criticized certain cabinet members in the Afghan government, including Defense Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim and Minister of Education Younis Qanooni; and leading political figures in Kabul such as the former president of Afghanistan, Burhanuddin Rabbani, and Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, a powerful former mujahidin leader.

Very disturbing story, and worth your review. If this is the model of democracy we plan to forge in the War on Terror, we need to be more explicit about it so everyone understands the costs. Again, we need to know the progression here. Are these supposed to be intermediary states of democracy for security purposes, in the transition, or is this considered a more permanent effect. Strategically. It has to be determined, and answered, because the freedom of speech and the press is not optional for a free democracy.