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Afghan Youth Debates: Journalists Threatened in Ghazni
Students in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province have expressed concerns about the treatment of journalists by some of the candidates running in the April 5 elections.
Abdul Ahad, an undergraduate at Ghazni University, told an IWPR-backed debate on February 27 that he had recently witnessed one journalist being threatened.
He urged officials at the Independent Election Complaints Commission (IECC) to investigate the incident and asked the debate panellists what they thought of it.
“Some candidates don’t treat the media well, and I've seen one threatening to smash a journalist's video camera," he said, without revealing the identity of those involved. "How do you view this type of behaviour?”
Rahila Sajadi, provincial head of the non-government Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, replied that no candidate had the right to threaten anyone with violence.
She referred to regulations issued by the Independent Election Commission that gave presidential and provincial council candidates clear guidelines for how they were expected to behave.
“No candidate is entitled to threaten anyone, and all those standing are issued with guidelines setting out what they can and can't do," Sajadi said. "No candidate is permitted to behave violently."
The IWPR debate was held at a public library in Ghazni City, on with around 100 male and female students taking part. Guest panellists included Abdul Jame Jame, the director of Ghazni provincial council, Toryalai Afghan, spokesman for Ghaznavian Radio and TV, and Mohammad Kazem Sarwar, a spokesman for Samah Radio. A regional spokesman for the Independent Election Commission was also invited but failed to attend.
During the debate students, heard that in the build-up to the election due in a month's time, the media had a critical role to play as the "eyes and ears" of ordinary Afghans wishing to keep track of the campaign, and to "inform and enlighten public opinion" in an impartial manner.
Ibadullah Omar is a student at Ghazni University and an IWPR trainee.
This report was produced as part of Open Minds: Speaking Up, Reaching Out – Promoting University and Youth Participation in Afghan Elections, an IWPR initiative funded by the US embassy in Kabul.
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