Afghanistan: reporter beaten
29 Jan 08

Hameed Mashhoon
The situation for journalists in the north of the country is deteriorating, writes Harun Najafizada

Police in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz beat up a local journalist last week, apparently because he wrote a story critical of Afghan National Police activities.

Hameed Mashhoon, the editor of independent weekly newspaper Sada-e Watan (the Voice of Homeland) was beaten up in downtown Kunduz while he was buying medicine at a pharmacy.

Mr Mashhoon told reporters that right after he left the pharmacy, a police officer attacked him, hitting him with the stock of his Kalashnikov.

“I did not say anything to the policeman. He just came at me and started beating me up,” the editor said.

But he added that recently he published a critical story on ill-performance of Afghan police in ensuring security.

Before the latest incident, Mashhoon had received scores of anonymous threats on his mobile phone from telling him to stop “writing nonsense about the government”.

The governor of Kunduz, Muhammad Omar, and police chief Ayoub Salangi say that they have arrested a police officer who was involved in beating the journalist.

Mashhoon says he believes high-ranking officials may have ordered the attack.

After these threats Sada-e Watan stopped publishing. Mashhoon said he has been forced to censor the publication, and that he would prefer to quit work rather than ignore what’s going wrong in his community.

Pressure on Afghan journalists has recently risen considerably ,especially in the north of the country.

Last week a primary court in Balkh Province sentenced a 23-year old journalist to death after finding him guilty of blasphemy. The sentence has widely been criticised.