On the morning of December 10, Afghan journalist Malala Maiwand and Mohammad Tahir, her driver, were murdered by gunmen on their way to Jalalabad, Nangarhar for work. No group has come forward and claim responsibility for the attack, but the governor of Nangarhar province, Ziaul Haq Amarkhel, who led Maiwand’s funeral prayer as part of Islamic funeral ritual, announced in a tweet that the murderers have been arrested and will be punished for their crimes.
Maiwand was a journalist at Enikas TV and Radio and was an advocate for women’s rights. She spoke on how important peace was for the future of her country and told Radio Free Afghanistan in February that “All of our needs can only be met in peace.” Maiwand’s death is not an isolated incident. Her death is one of three journalists killed within these recent attacks. Mohammad Ilyas Dayee, a reporter for Radio Azadi or Radio Free (or known as RFE/RL), had been killed from a car bomb attack in late November. Yama Siawash, a former journalist and presenter for Tolo News, was killed along with two others when a bomb attached to his car had exploded near Kabul in early November. Maiwand’s murder is not the first in her family either. Her mother who was also an activist was murdered five years ago by unknown gunmen according to Reuters news agency. Enikas TV had been targeted before; in 2018 its owner and founder Engineer Zalmay was kidnapped for ransom.
Maiwand’s uncle had said that he hoped journalists wouldn’t leave the field due to these attacks, “You should not surrender to fear,” according to Abubakar Siddique of Gandhara news agency, an agency that publishes reports from RFE/RL journalists. Nai, an organization supporting media and freedom of speech in Afghanistan, stated that “With the killing of Malalai, the working field for female journalists is getting smaller and journalists may not dare to continue their jobs the way they were doing before.”
Maiwand’s work and the work of other journalists is crucial for the citizens in Afghanistan to be better informed and as an outlet of free speech in the nation. Her courageous actions and efforts set a precedent for activism and heroism for a better, brighter and safer future for all citizens in Afghanistan.
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