Afghanistan — Jan Kubis, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan during an exclusive interview with RFE/RL Kabul Bureau Chief Hamid Mohmand on April 25, 2013.
Hamid Mohmand, 2013 winner
Hamid Mohmand, the Kabul Bureau Chief for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Afghan Service known locally as Radio Azadi, is one of six journalists recognized as a winner of the 2013 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards.
“Our Burke Award winners are on the front lines of some of the most challenging and dangerous places on earth,” said BBG Governor Susan McCue. The awards are given annually to journalists working for US international broadcasting networks on the basis of exceptional integrity, bravery, and originality in reporting.
Mohmand was recognized “for his extraordinary courage and exemplary reporting in Afghanistan.” Despite facing numerous threats from the Taliban, he continued to report on topics important to his war-ravaged country. Mohmand’s work—and his conviction that a free press is instrumental to peace and prosperity in Afghanistan—represents a commitment to the idea of a free press and reflects the risks journalists face in nations plagued by strife and conflict.
Mohmand embodies the extraordinary risks journalists take in countries facing instability and conflict. Although he has been threatened repeatedly by the Taliban for his reporting, he is undeterred in his determination to cover the country’s most important stories.
In observance of World Press Freedom Day, Hamid was featured in an RFE/RL video speaking about the obstacles faced in the fight for free speech and a free press. Mohmand and his colleagues work towards the development of these in both Afghanistan and the region as a whole.
Mohmand began his RFE/RL career as a reporter in the field, which meant facing danger every day. Yet with tremendous courage, he traveled wherever news broke. When the first-ever suicide bombing in Kabul took place, Mohmand was the first journalist to report live from the scene, even taking photos so that his audience could see the real consequences of terrorism. Upon his return from the site of the carnage to the studio, he fainted.
In his 10 years with RFE/RL, Mohmand has perfected his craft and become a leader in the Afghan press. He is respected by community leaders and government officials alike. For younger reporters in Afghanistan, Mohmand serves as a model of how to practice sound, professional journalism. But such stature comes with a price, and Taliban threats on his life now force him to spend most of his time apart from his wife and nine children.