WASHINGTON — Hours after the murder of Afghanistan’s head of the Government Media and Information Center Dawa Khan Meenapal, USAGM Acting CEO Kelu Chao spoke out against the increasingly dangerous situation in Afghanistan, calling for an end to the attacks on journalists and the media.
Meenapal served as a journalist for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Afghan service, known locally as Radio Azadi, from 2006 to 2010. In 2010 he was recognized by the agency for his courage and journalistic excellence, with the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award.
“The violence against journalists and the free press in Afghanistan is reprehensible,” said Chao. “We mourn with our colleagues at RFE/RL and with the people of Afghanistan, whose need for access to the truth grows exponentially every day.”
In 2008 while reporting for RFE/RL, Meenapal was kidnapped by the Taliban and held for three days. He was finally released after tribal leaders in the area, who knew him to be a fair and objective reporter, protested and persuaded the militants to release him. A year later, while reporting on a deadly explosion in Kandahar, he was severely beaten by Afghan police.
USAGM oversees public service media broadcasters Voice of America (VOA) and RFE/RL, which provide uncensored and reliable news and information on television, satellite, radio, digital and mobile apps. VOA’s Afghan Service (in Pashto and Dari), VOA Deewa, as well as RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi (in Dari and Pashto) and Radio Mashaal, together reach 10.5 million adults weekly in Afghanistan.
Last November, Radio Azadi journalist Mohammad Ilyas Dayee was murdered in a targeted bomb attack. He was 33.
“Despite the increasing challenges in Afghanistan, we are determined to keep our journalists safe and our audiences informed,” add Chao.
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