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RSF asks ICC to probe killings of Afghan journalists

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(Last Updated On: June 2, 2021)

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has formally asked the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate murders of journalists and media workers in Afghanistan since March 2020.

In this time, 11 media workers, including journalists, have been killed in targeted attacks.

RSF has asked Bensouda to investigate these murders – which the organization said Wednesday could be regarded as war crimes – under article 15 of the ICC’s Rome statute.

The latest media victims were three women working for Enekaas TV in the eastern city of Jalalabad, who were gunned down while on their way home on 2 March.

Before that, Voice of Ghor radio station director Besmellah Adel Imaq was shot dead as he was returning home in Firoz Koh, the capital of the central province of Ghor, on 1 January.

Imaq was the fifth media worker to be killed in the space of two months.

The others were Mohammad Aliyas Dayee of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Pashto-language service, who was murdered in Lashkargah on 12 November; Malalai Maiwand, a TV presenter and representative of the Centre for the Protection of Afghan Women Journalists (CPAWJ), and her driver Taher Khan, who were murdered in Jalalabad on 10 December; and Rahmatollah Nekzad, a reporter for international media, who was gunned down in Ghazni on 21 December.

All of these journalists and media workers were targeted because of their work amid an armed conflict that has seen an increase in violence against journalists and civil society in general since early 2020, RSF said in a statement.

“RSF has every reason to believe that armed groups, especially the Taliban or Taliban affiliates, are responsible for this wave of killings,” the organization stated.

“RSF has asked the ICC’s chief prosecutor to include these murders in the crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003 that she was authorised to investigate by the ICC’s Appeals Chamber in March 2020.

“With a view to prosecuting those responsible, RSF has asked her to determine whether they should be treated as war crimes or as another category of crimes defined by the ICC’s Rome Statute, such as crimes against humanity,” the organization stated.

At least 100 journalists, including 15 foreign journalists, have been killed in connection with their work in the past 20 years in Afghanistan, while more than 60 media outlets have been destroyed or attacked and hundreds of threats have been made against journalists and media.

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Khulm district officially moved from Balkh to Samangan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Khulm district has been detached from Balkh province and is now part of Samangan province, a senior official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Mohsin Hashimi, visited the region and said that government had decided to incorporate Khulm district into Samangan province.

Hashimi said that he had been instructed to transfer administrative and security responsibilities for Khulm district to Samangan province in the presence of the governors of both the provinces and give assurances to the local people and security forces.

Balkh Governor Qudratullah Abu Hamza said that security responsibility for Khulm district has been handed over to Samangan authorities.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Kunduzi, the governor of Samangan, dismissed concerns that the move would affect businesses in Khulm district which has until now been part of a province that sits on vital trade routes into Central Asia

“There is no problem for investment in any province,” Kunduzi said.

Khulm district initially had been part of Samangan province, but it was moved to Balkh province during Hamid Karzai’s rule.

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Russia successfully launches Iranian satellite

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

A Russian rocket on Tuesday successfully launched an Iranian satellite into orbit from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan, AP reported.

The Soyuz rocket lifted off as scheduled at 8:52 am Moscow time. About nine minutes after the launch, it placed the Iranian satellite called Khayyam into orbit. It’s named after Omar Khayyam, a Persian scientist who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries.

Iran has said the satellite fitted with high-resolution camera will be used for environmental monitoring and will remain fully under its control.

Tehran said no other country will have access to information it gathers and it would be used for civilian purposes only, but there have been allegations that Russia may use it for surveillance of Ukraine amid its military action there.

If it operates successfully, the satellite would give Iran the ability to monitor its archenemy Israel and other countries in the Middle East, AP reported.

Yuri Borisov, head of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos, hailed the launch as an “important landmark” in cooperation between Moscow and Tehran.

Iranian state television aired footage of the launch live, noting that the country’s telecommunications minister attended the liftoff in Kazakhstan. Tehran said the satellite will help improve productivity in the agriculture sector, survey water resources, manage natural disasters, confront deforestation and monitor border areas.

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Karzai says it’s time the US corrects its mistakes in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 9, 2022)

Former president Hamid Karzai said this week that while Afghanistan was more secure today than a year ago, the economy was a “disaster” and that it was time for the US to “correct it’s mistakes”. 

In an interview with NPR this week, Karzai discussed the current situation in the country and the events of August 15 last year.

He said at the time of the collapse of the former government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), he had feared for his safety, but not because of the IEA but because of external forces. 

“The Taliban (IEA) are Afghans. They belong to this country. We know them, they know us. I felt external forces, and feared that more,” Karzai said, mentioning foreign countries and elements within Pakistan, in particular, NPR reported.

According to Karzai, he stayed and met with IEA leaders, and said that they all seemed to want the same thing: a peaceful and progressing Afghanistan. 

“In terms of [an] end to widespread fighting and conflict, we are happy — there’s more stability, there’s more security,” Karzai said. 

“But in terms of Afghanistan having a government that all Afghan people find themselves [in], we still have a way to go. In terms of the economy of the country, it’s a disaster. In terms of Afghans leaving their own country, it’s a huge disaster and a shame upon us. And this is something that the Taliban IIEA) have to address.”

Karzai told NPR the IEA acknowledges that there are problems, and that the US made “immense mistakes” in Afghanistan.

NPR reported that he is still angry about civilian casualties during the war, saying the US bombed the wrong people so often that he refuses to believe it was a mistake. 

Karzai also spoke out about the chaotic withdrawal of troops and said it had been “very dishonorable.” Families were separated amidst the chaos, and some Afghans desperate to evacuate clung to a military plane as it took off. At least two people fell to their deaths, which Karzai called a “disgrace to both of us.”

He told NPR there were things the US could do to help the Afghan people now, including unfreezing the country’s financial reserves.

“I need for the United States government to correct its mistakes in Afghanistan, to help the Afghan people stand back on their feet,” he said.

Karzai also told NPR he had met IEA leaders, all of whom had expressed a desire for better relations with the US.

But he said there were things the IEA must do first to gain trust and make progress within their own country.

“We must make sure that all the Afghan people see themselves belonging to this country and represented by the government, and that we take all the necessary steps to prove to the rest of the world that we mean well for Afghanistan,” he said.

He also said girls’ education was an issue and said he was worried the ban sets the whole country back. He warned that “a decade from now we’ll be worse than what we are now.”

NPR reported that Karzai feels there are many reasons why the IEA should take steps to prove to the world that they are trying to better the country.

“That will also make it easier for someone like me to go into the international community and say, ‘Well, we’re now on the right path towards a better future and deserve support,'” he said.

But Karzai can’t go out into the international community, even if he wanted to. He said he had asked the IEA for permission to travel abroad for several functions and events, but had always been denied, NPR reported.

As they explained it to Karzai the first time, they are honored that he is in Afghanistan and fear that things will fall apart if he doesn’t come back. He said they all knew that he would come back.

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