Afghan Journalists; Victim of Western government disorder
Ahmad Wahid Payman
After the fall of the republic in Afghanistan, the influx of Afghan citizens to Kabul International Airport and the attempt to leave Afghanistan showed a dramatic picture of the collapse of a society. The fall of the citizens who hung themselves on the wings of the plane created deep human feelings among the governments and citizens of several European and American countries. A number of countries in the world in those days decided to start the process of evacuating people whose lives were in danger. But in the meantime, the turmoil caused by the fall made this program one of the most unjust and turbulent rescue missions in human history.
The lack of coordination and mismanagement in the rescue mission was so obvious and indefensible that more than 1,450 Afghan children boarded the planes and flew to United States even without informing their families. Similarly, a number of children did the same by flying to Qatar or UAE, and are currently held in camps waiting to fly to a European country or the United States. Many of these children, according to American media, remember their families when they go to bed.
Recently, a video of a 40-year-old Afghan citizen who had just arrived in Germany was shared on social media. The young man recorded the video for his family in Afghanistan, explaining: “As I was passing by the airport, I saw people standing in a long que to enter Kabul airport. I parked my Rickshaw on a street that is next to the airport, and could catch a flight and now I’m in Germany. Please go and take my Rickshaw home!” Similarly, a number of journalists claimed that a private airline in Afghanistan had flown 155 of its close relatives abroad on a private flight, deceiving Western countries and portraying them as journalists.
Cases like this are countless and perhaps a transparent third party investigation could reveal the depth of this tragedy. Majority of those whose lives were severely endangered by the Taliban, remained in Afghanistan for a variety of reasons, some of whom continued to flee the country secretly and some of whom sought refuge in one of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries. These people live in the worst possible conditions without a clear vision of the future. I know journalists who, after two or three renewals – now their visas in Iran cannot be renewed and out of sheer despair are forced to leave the country for Afghanistan soon. I know a journalist who was forced to become a construction worker after fleeing to a neighboring country. I know journalists who, after fleeing Afghanistan, and in order to get rid of hunger turned to the citizens of the host country and asked for food donations.
It is painful for these people to know that the people who were considered impartial by the Taliban have now found themselves in a safe haven, but they themselves are forced to live in hideaway.
The United States, as a country that had to respond more to the world’s public opinion about Afghanistan than any other government, seemed to be trying to present itself as the savior of the people in the days when all eyes were on Afghanistan.
For this reason, this country has never been able to establish a proper mechanism for evacuating people at risk. The United States diverted world public opinion to a seemingly humanitarian act, thereby curbing a barrage of criticism.
By creating a special condition, the United States did not allow the world to ask questions about how the regime fell and the collapse of democracy in Afghanistan.
This policy caused some Afghan citizens who did not even know why and where they were going to leave replaced those whose lives were really in danger.
Unfortunately, there are no real statistics on how many of the nearly 250,000 people who fled Afghanistan to a Western country needed humanitarian assistance. But to arrive at a relatively logical answer, as well as to understand the major mistakes of governments “in the process of evacuating Afghanistan,” we examine the current situation of Afghan journalists.
Afghan journalists have risked their lives in support of democracy over the past 20 years, and as a result, nearly 150 of these journalists have lost their lives.
By preparing an investigative report from these reporters; the faces of corrupt people, land grabbers, human rights violators and women’s rights violators have been repeatedly exposed in the most dangerous country in the world. They are known as the preachers of freedom of expression in this country. The group that are victims of to the West’s mismanagement and luck of coordination after the fall of the republic in Afghanistan.
Although there are no exact statistics on the actual number of people leaving Afghanistan as journalists, it is estimated that about 20,000 people with the same title managed to leave Afghanistan and enter an American or European country.
According to official statistics provided by the Afghanistan Free Media Protection Organization (Nay), a total of 483 media outlets, including television, radio, newspapers, news websites, news agencies and magazines, were active in Afghanistan until 2018. Due to economic problems and the spread of insecurity, a number of them remained inactive until 2021, and it is clear that 483 media outlets did not have the capacity to employ thousands of journalists in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, I saw media outlets that only had between 3 and 10 employees, or I knew media outlets that had 1 to 2 reporters. It is clear that Afghanistan did not have the capacity for tens of thousands of journalists.
Even if we assume that the actual number of journalists in Afghanistan reaches 5,000, the undeniable fact is that more than 70% of these journalists are now in Afghanistan trying to leave the country. The journalists say that now that they need the real support of the world, many western countries have closed their doors to them and their lives are in danger.
The question might raise that why the journalists, like other people and children, could not get to Kabul airport and board a plane to flee to one of the western countries? The answer to this question is clear.
۱٫ In the first days of the fall, there was a lot of panic in Kabul and reporters did not dare to leave their homes.
۲٫ All air routes in the provinces, especially in the distant provinces, were closed. Reporters living in the provinces did not have access to Kabul airport.
۳٫ The few journalists who had the opportunity to go to Kabul airport by any means possible became stressed and frightened by their reputation among the community and were hidden in safe houses in Kabul and couldn’t dare to go to crowd and stand in the long ques.
۴٫ A number of journalists wanted to leave Afghanistan in a dignified manner with the cooperation of these institutions, with clear programs to be carried out by the media around the world.
I confess that a number of Afghan citizens introduced themselves as journalists to get rid of hunger and difficult economic and social conditions by presenting fake documents, and now they live in a quiet western environment instead of journalists.
The International Association of Journalists has stated that with the fall of the previous government, 153 media outlets in Afghanistan have been forced to suspend their activities and women journalists have stopped their activities.
Real Afghan journalists now need the support of western countries to save the status quo. To overcome this challenge, government agencies must contact reputable media support organizations around the world and seek their help. Media advocacy organizations in different countries should also seek out more accurate ways to identify real journalists and work together to expel them. The world must hear the voice of Afghan journalists. They have been true supporters of freedom of expression and the voice of the suffering Afghan community. Their voices should not be silenced. They should not live in hideaways because of their support for democracy.
Now that the world have made obvious mistakes in identifying real journalists, it is imperative that they, with the help of reputable organizations that support journalists must compensate their mistakes by supporting the journalists who are stuck in Afghanistan and are in need to be taken out.
The same shall apply not only for journalists but also for other at risk groups whose lives are in danger too.