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UNESCO Director-General condemns murders of Afghan journalists Zakia Zaki and Shokiba Sanga

11-06-2007 (Paris)
UNESCO Director-General condemns murders of Afghan journalists Zakia Zaki and Shokiba Sanga
Zakia Zaki
© Aina Productions
"I am deeply saddened by the deaths of these pioneering women," the Director-General said.
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, condemned the cold-blooded killing of Zakia Zaki, founder of one of the first community radio stations run entirely by women in Afghanistan, radio Sada–e–Sulh (Peace) in Jabul Seraj. The murder follows the killing a few days ago of television journalist Shokiba Sanga Amaaj, in her home on the evening of June 1.

“I am deeply saddened by the deaths of these pioneering women, and I vigorously condemn their murders”, the Director-General said. “These crimes are all the more shocking because they not only undermine the basic human right of freedom of expression, but also the right of women to exercise a profession that is vital for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.”

Reports from Afghanistan indicate that Zakia Zaki was killed early during the night of June 5-6 in her home next to her infant son. Reports indicate also that a suspect has been arrested for the murder of the 22-year-old journalist, Shokiba Sanga Amaaj, who is reported to have been shot dead in her home in Kabul. Ms Amaaj worked as a reporter and presenter for the Pashtu-language private television channel Shamshad TV.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), suggests that she may have been killed “for the simple reason that she was a prominent media figure in a milieu that remains hostile to working women.”

In the documentary film “If I stand up” produced in 2005 by a group of Afghan camera-women as part of a UNESCO supported project, Zakia Zaki, said: “I created the first independent women’s radio in Afghanistan. Every beginning is difficult, but I overcome the obstacles…It started broadcasting from Jabul Seraj during the Talebans…We work with men as well as women because if men respect women’s sights, brothers to sisters, husband to wives, fathers to daughters, then women’s rights might become reality.”

The film production provided training for the first group of Afghan female video journalists on documentary filming and TV production in collaboration with the media NGO AINA.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
Related themes/countries

      · Afghanistan
      · Freedom of Expression: News Archives 2007
      · Gender and ICT: News Archives 2007
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2007
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