Family of Indian photojournalist killed by Taliban moves ICC for justice

New Delhi, Mar 22 (EFE).- The family of Danish Siddiqui, an Indian photojournalist who worked for the Reuters news agency and was killed in Afghanistan while covering the conflict preceding Taliban’s recapture of the country, on Tuesday approached the International Criminal Court against the Islamist group to seek justice.

“This communication is specifically concerned with the attack of July 16, 2021, that resulted in the attack, torture and unlawful killing of Danish Siddiqui,” reads the complaint filed in the ICC by the journalist’s parents, Akhtar Siddiqui and Shahida Akhtar.

The family alleges that the photographer was “the victim of crimes against humanity and war crimes, at the hand of anti-government forces, identifying themselves as ‘Taliban’.”

The photographer, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer prize for his coverage of the Rohingya refugee crisis, was killed in July during a clash between the Taliban and the security forces of the now-ousted Afghan government in the border city of Spin Boldak, situated in the southern Kandahar province.

According to the complaint, Siddiqui was wounded in the crossfire and took refuge in a mosque, where he was given medical attention by the Afghan special forces, with whom he was embedded.

The photojournalist was left behind by the special forces soldiers and identified by the Taliban after they arrived at the spot.

“The fact that he was a member of the press could be clearly discerned from his person, and his outfit. He was also clearly identified as an Indian. Due to these two attributes, he was tortured, shot multiple times from up close and his body was mutilated,” the petition said.

The lawsuit seeks legal action against several Taliban high officials, such as Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the supreme spiritual head of the group, and the acting Afghan prime minister Hasan Akhund, apart from local commanders.

However, the Taliban have denied these allegations.

Siddiqui carried out impactful news coverage in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Rohingya refugee crisis, the Hong Kong protests, earthquakes in Nepal, games in North Korea and the living conditions of asylum seekers in Switzerland.

In India, he became popular for his extensive coverage of the 2020 Delhi riots, protests by Indian farmers, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

He captured drone images of funeral pyres during a devastating second wave of the coronavirus that caught global attention toward the health crisis in India in 2020.

In 2018, he became the first Indian journalist to win a Pulitzer prize as part of the Reuters photography team.

Even before the Taliban’s return to power, Afghanistan had been one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, occupying the 122nd rank out of 180 in the 2021 world press freedom index, released by nonprofit Reporters Without Borders (RSF). EFE


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