Sunday, 24 February 2008

Demonstration at BBC World Service

PETITION to Head of BBC World Service

22nd February 2006

Your Excellency

We are independent writers, journalists, community association leaders, student associations, human rights activists and some member of Afghanistan Diaspora living in the UK. We are deeply concerned about the recent Afghanistan’s Culture Minister’s restrictions on the use of Farsi Language terminology for media in Afghanistan.

Abdul Karim Khuram, the Minster of Culture fired a journalist for using ‘Dari (Farsi) words’. Two other senior staff from local Balkh TV had also been fined for broadcasting a news report.

The Minister has a long history of silencing, humiliating and disgracing journalists.

We believe that the Culture Minister’s action, detailed above, has breached Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

This is in addition to what we believe to be a systematic attack on media and curtailment of freedom of expression by Abdul Karim Khuram, the Minster of Culture and by the Afghan government. There are some examples of this:

• Dismissal of reformist Head of Radio-Television Afghanistan (RTA), Mr. Najib Roshan, 28th December 2006

• Resignation of Head of the Afghan Pen Association, Dr. Sami Hamed, due to political pressure, 13th March, 2007

• Removal of Razaaq Mamoon, an independent journalist from Tolo TV, because of political pressure, 23rd December 2006

• Censorship on Lemar TV imposed by Afghan Ministry of Culture, 9th April 2007.

• Government’s inaction towards the fate of Afghan journalist, Ajmal Naqshbandi, who was kidnapped and beheaded by Taliban, 7 April 2007

The Minister’s recent action has dramatically increased anxiety among people in Afghanistan. Therefore we felt obliged to voice our concern by organising a peaceful demonstration in support of freedom of expression on 15th February 2008 outside the Afghanistan Embassy, London. The demonstration included about 200 angry Afghanistani students, journalists, human rights activists, community association leaders, businessmen in defense of freedom of speech and freedom of mother tongue in Afghanistan.

The gathering was to make it absolutely clear that everyone is free to use their mother tongue and will remain free.

We believe that since his employment to the post of Ministry of Information & Culture, he has put tribalism, party politics and eliminating of indigenous culture his top priority. An example of this would be that he omitted the Farsi writing off from the Ministry’s sign, it used to say ‘the ministry of culture and information’ in Farsi, but he has replaced that to Pashtu.

What do we want?

Clearly, we are concerned about these attacks on media in Afghanistan both by Taliban and the Afghan Government, and we are keen to ensure that views such as ours are portrayed in the world media through organisations such as BBC World Service. The people of Afghanistan known BBC Persian program for more than 30 years, BBC was the only source of information that people used to listen to since the days of the World War II. Our people grew up listening to BBC radio program, with respect and reliance on impartiality and independence. Suddenly on Friday evening headlines appeared on the BBC-Afghanistan with no report about the 15th February Peaceful Demonstration.

Despite that, at our peaceful demonstration on 15th February 2008 were attended by journalists from BBC World Service Afghanistan Section and yet this was not reported by BBC Pashto and Dari, on either radio or online. We know and expect the BBC to report all sides of an issue and therefore would request that you as Head of the BBC World Service investigate why this matter was not reported and provide the opportunity for this information to be in the public domain, both online and on radio. Replies or further information can be sent via:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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