Increase in targeted assassinations and the escape of influential figures from Afghanistan

Report: Moh. Nabi Karimi and Imran Khorasani

It has long been said that annoyance should not reach the lonely corner. Targeted violence and assassinations in Afghanistan have now struck a chord with all citizens, especially those involved in the country’s politics and civic activities. In the latest case, information has been provided to the pasbanan news agency, based on which a number of political, civil, media activists and influential figures of the country have left Afghanistan due to increasing security threats, and now these activists are based in one of the Central Asian countries. According to this information, people who have left Afghanistan are not ready to talk to the media, because high-security threats have become dangerous for them, and even these people are afraid to face security threats outside Afghanistan. The Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for providing security for these people, has expressed its ignorance about providing information about the security situation of these activists but emphasizes that the Ministry is ready to conspire with figures who feel threatened and they would provide a security plan for these activists. The spokesman for the Ministry of Interior emphasizes that the necessary security measures have been taken for a number of political, civil, and media activists earlier in their cooperation.

Escape of influential and credible figures due to increasing security threats:

The data provided to Pasbanan Media Group News Agency shows that there are currently many political, civic, and media figures living outside Afghanistan and have escaped in the last 15 days. Sources in a conversation with the PMG News emphasize that currently Ahmad Saeedi, a political activist; Javid Kouhestani, political activist; Siddiqullah Tawhidi, Executive Chairman of the Safety Committee for Journalists; Nasir Fayaz, host of Ariana TV political programs; Sharif Hassanyar, CEO of Ariana TV; Zia Bumia, head of Azadi Press; Wadud Pedram, civil activist; Mujib Khalwatgar, head of Afghanistan’s Free Media Support Foundation, and dozens of other figures capable of traveling outside Afghanistan have traveled to a Central Asian country and will remain there indefinitely for a long time. Sources emphasize that these people are not ready to talk to the media about providing information regarding their departure from Afghanistan.

Increased targeted assassinations despite panic:

After the change of military targets of the armed opposition and terrorist groups in 2020, whispers of targeting political, civil, and media activists has increased; To the extent that this process took many victims from these activists. It has been at least four months since targeted assassinations targeted most soft and civilian targets. At least 2,250 people have been killed and injured in targeted assassinations, including 1,078, and 1,172 others, according to the Independent Human Rights Commission’s annual civilian casualties report in 2020. The figure totals 26 percent of civilian casualties has been highlighter through targeted killing in 2020. Statistics from the Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) show that assassinations and targeted killings increased by 169 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. “Unfortunately, civilian casualties from assassinations and targeted killings in 2020 have almost tripled compared to 2019, an increase of 169 percent, the annual report of the Human Rights Commission said In 2019, a total of 834 civilians were killed and injured as a result of the use of assassination methods and targeted attacks. By 2020, the number of victims of this tactic will reach 2250, including 1078 killed and 1172 injured. It is worth noting that among the casualties of this tactic are 65 women and 74 children, and among the wounded are 95 women and 290 children.”

Statistics of casualties of journalists, political and civil activists in 2020:

According to statistics provided annually by the Safety Committee of Journalists in 2020, at least 18 journalists have died across the country, and in the last few months alone, six journalists have been killed by unknown individuals. Yama Siavash, Elias Daei, Malala Maiwand, Fardin Amini, Rahmatollah Nikzad, and Bismillah Qarlaq were among the journalists who died as a result of terrorist and strange events. Fereshteh Kouhestani and Yousef Rashid were among the civil activists who fell victim to terrorist attacks during this period. Also, Ahmad Saeedi, one of the country’s political figures, was the target of an armed attack for the second time, in which he was not harmed. These events have caused many of these activists to leave the country and settle in a Central Asian country for a while to protect themselves. Meanwhile, sources say at least dozens of civil, political, and media activists have fled the country due to growing security threats.

Weakness in security institutions and financial inability Another face of the coin fleeing the country:

Meanwhile, several civil society activists believe that several media consortium members and the Independent Human Rights Commission have called on all countries residing in Afghanistan not to issue temporary or permanent visas to media and civil society activists. Meanwhile, Aziz Rafiei says: “Weak security on the one hand and financial incapacity, on the other hand, are some of the things that have made it difficult for civil, political and media activists to get the knife to their bones. How long will the situation be like this?” Meanwhile, one of the journalists, who did not want to be identified due to security and work threats, believes that the biggest obstacle to saving journalists’ lives is the media consortia.

According to him, at least 10 media outlets have created this media hub. The journalist says: “The media consortium, headed by most of the limited media executives, has asked all countries embassies in Afghanistan not to issue visas to journalists,” said one journalist. In one case, when I went to one of the embassies for a visa, I was even instructed to ask my boss for permission. Now it is painful because we are struggling with death, but all the means of temporary living have become impossible for journalists outside Afghanistan, and this has had a detrimental effect on media activities.”

According to statistics, so far, two media activists, including Farahnaz Forotan and Mukhtar Lashkari, have been able to leave Afghanistan and live abroad.

Obligation to provide security for media and civil political activists:

Regarding these people’s security, the Ministry of Interior says that this institution is ready to provide security for media, political and civil activists in the country. “We are responsible for ensuring the safety of all citizens,” Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told police. For us, especially those who are directly threatened by the enemy, we work on their security measures in consultation with them; Many of the people you mentioned have already taken security measures. We will take whatever measures are necessary to ensure the security of journalists, media officials. If the threat is serious, let our colleagues understand that the Ministry of Interior and the police are at their service.”

On the other hand, Zabihullah Farhang of the Independent Human Rights Commission said in response to the statement that the department does not want visas to be issued to media activists in the country: “The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has not sent any letter to international organizations to Prevent civil activists from traveling abroad; “But I have to say without a doubt that insecurity has become a concern for everyone, and we hope that security challenges will be addressed soon.”

The targeting of media, civil and political activists in 2020 have been a wake-up call for the Afghan government; In addition to the fact that the security of these media outlets is considered a critical headache, the lack of support from international organizations and their supporters has increased the death threat against them.