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Afghanistan 14 June 2007

Radio journalist received threats prior to her murder, husband says

In an interview for the BBC, the husband of radio station director Zakia Zaki, Abdul Ahad Ranjbar, said she received threats shortly before her murder on 6 June, but she only told her sister, Nazifa Zaki, a general in the Aghan army, in order not to alarm the rest of the family. Her sister preferred to wait until the funeral was over before telling Ranjbar about the threats.

Ranjbar was not at home the night his wife was killed. He said he got a call from one of his sons late at night saying: “Come back home, because Mum has been killed.” He returned home to find she had been shot in the head and chest. Her baby and 7-year-old son were with her in the bedroom when she was killed, but they were not hurt.

Ranjbar said he had always worried about his wife because of her activism. “She always faced challenges and problems from different groups, but she never wanted to give in, she was never afraid,” he said.


Tribute to gifts and courage of slain woman radio station director

Reporters Without Borders today urged the authorities to pursue the investigation into Zakia Zaki’s murder and to continue to examine all possibilities after the police reported that they had arrested six suspects. Zaki’s relatives and friends say local warlords were behind her killing while the police blame the armed group Hezb-i-Islami.

“We will not forget Zakia Zaki’s courage and gifts,” the press freedom organisation said. “We count on an active campaign by the Afghan and international media to ensure that her murder does not go unpunished. Only an independent enquiry will dispel the doubts that already exist about the identity and motives of her killers. We are extremely worried about the threats to press freedom and women’s rights, two gains of the post-Taliban period.”

Reporters Without Borders points out that it was Afghan leader Ahmed Shah Massoud who personally backed the launching of Zaki’s radio station, Sada-e-Sulh (Peace Radio), in 2001 before the Taliban had been driven out of Kabul. The French NGO Droit de Parole funded the start-up of the station, which has continued to operate since Zaki’s murder on 5 June.

Hundreds of local residents, journalists and women paid tribute to Zaki at her funeral on 6 June in Jabalussaraj, in the northern province of Parwan, where she lived. Local religious leaders hailed her as “a mother, wife and leader” of the community.

Abdul Manan Farahi, the head of the interior ministry’s anti-terrorism department, announced yesterday that six suspects had been arrested and that two of them, linked to Gulbadin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami, were the ones who shot Zaki.

Journalists’ organisations yesterday held a news conference in Kabul to condemn her murder, the climate of violence and the inability of the authorities to protect journalists. Zaki was gunned down just six days after the murder of a young woman TV presenter in Kabul, and a few weeks after the attempted murder of Ahmad, a reporter with a new radio station in Nijrab, a district adjoining Parwan province. The reporter was badly wounded in the attack on May 25th.

A video documentary about Zaki produced with the help of the non-governmental organisation AINA can be seen on YouTube:

Photos of Zaki by AINA photographers can also be downloaded at the foot of this release.

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