Kabul, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- At least 65 human rights activists and media professionals have been killed in Afghanistan in the last three years, a growing trend that has led to several others leaving their profession or the country, United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday.
According to the latest report by the UN body, 32 human rights activists and 33 journalists or media employees were killed between January 2018 and January 2021.
Eleven of these 65 professionals were victims of targeted attacks that have been on the rise in the country since the start of peace negotiations in September between the Afghan Government and the Taliban in Qatar.
This “sharp and chilling number of killings” have “generated a climate of fear among the population,” denounced UNAMA.
As a result, human rights and media space has shrunk, with many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work or quitting their jobs, while many others – including high profile personalities – have had to flee the country.
“The Afghan people need and deserve a flourishing civic space – a society where people can think, write and voice their views openly, without fear,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
Lyons underlined that the voices of human rights and the media “need to be heard more than ever before, instead they are being silenced.”
Killing of media professionals and activists are not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, but the recent wave of targeted killings poses a new source of concern for Kabul.
Human rights activists and journalists “are far too often exposed to threats, intimidation, harassment, surveillance or arbitrary detention,” according to the report.
UNAMA called on the Afghan government for more effective measures to defend these professionals and bring the perpetrators to justice, while urging the Taliban to abandon such attacks and condemn them.
Afghanistan has been witnessing an increase in targeted attacks against journalists, activists, politicians and intellectuals in urban areas since last year.
Shootings and bomb explosions targeting the vehicles of the victims have become almost a daily occurrence in the country.
The Taliban, which only accept responsibility for attacks on military targets, have repeatedly denied their involvement in these attacks on civilians. EFE-EPA