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Afghanistan 12 May 2006

Members of parliament beat up cameraman

Reporters Without Borders condemned an assault on cameraman Omid Yakmanish, of Tolo TV, the 2005 laureate of its press freedom award, who was beaten up by two parliamentarians while covering a debate in parliament.

He had gone to parliament on 7 May 2006 for a controversial debate on media coverage of the day of commemoration of the Mujahideen victory over Russia. One deputy, Malalai Joya, provoked fierce reactions when she stood up to denounce atrocities committed by the Mujahideen and other members of parliament threatened her with death.

Parliamentarians, Mohamed Husaini, representing Ghazni, and Fazlullah Mujadidi, for Logar, both south of Kabul, then set upon and beat Yakmanish to stop him filming the scene.

"This brutality demonstrates how little store some Afghan deputies set by the work of the independent press," said Reporters Without Borders. "We urge the parliamentary speaker to call to order the deputies responsible for this assault and ensure that such acts are not repeated."

Another journalist, Haseeb Sharifee, was threatened on 5 May, by the Takhar provincial council for broadcasting a "sarcastic" poem on Takhar TV. Elsewhere, reporters on local radio Sadae Haqiqat were threatened on 3 May by local officials in Samagan province in the north-west of the country after the provincial governor and the police chief complained that they had been asking awkward questions.

President of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists’ Association, Rahimullah Samander, said that the authorities refuse to reply to journalists’ questions in several of the country’s provinces.

Finally, parliament recently rejected a candidate proposed by President Hamid Karzai for the job of minister of information as conservative deputies apparently sought to impose their own candidate. The independent journalists’ association expressed its concern in the face of these attempts by former Muhajideen to try to take control of this key post for press freedom.

Reporters Without Borders urges President Karzai to put a liberal candidate before parliament.

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in the annual report
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