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Afghanistan: Death Sentence for Distributing Blog Article

The Afghan Association Blog Writers (Afghan Penlog), a community established by a group of Afghan activist bloggers, has expressed deep concern for a young journalist Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh who was condemned to death by a local court.

He has been a reporter for Jahan-e Naw (New World) weekly and a student of journalism at Balkh University.

According to Afghan Penlog and international media, Parwez Kambakhsh was detained by the authorities on October 27, 2007 for downloading and distributing an article that he found on an Iranian weblog to friends. It spoke of women's rights, the Quran and the Prophet Mohammed. A local court in northern Afghanistan in Mazar-e Sharif has convicted him to death for the alleged blasphemy.

Global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders say the trial was “carried out in haste and without any concern for the law or for free expression, which is protected by the constitution.”

Index on Censorship says :

Deeply conservative Afghan clerics, most of whom have never used a computer or the Internet, believe Kambakhsh himself wrote the article and therefore found him guilty of blasphemy. Because there is no clear punishment for downloading “un-Islamic” articles from the Internet, the primary court of appeal asked clerics to comment. The conservative clerics, who had not investigated the case, demanded the death penalty.

Journalist's brother may have been target

According to CNN, many believe that Kambakhsh was actually arrested for articles his brother wrote that criticized provincial authorities. The brother, Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, has written numerous stories that detail human rights.

Afghan PenLog issued a statement yesterday that accused Afghan authorities of attempting to escape from the issue: “… the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture has released a letter this afternoon that says Parwiz Kambakh was not a journalist and his case has nothing to do with the media.” Afghan Penlog is deeply concerned, and demands the immediate release of Parwiz Kambakhsh.

2 comments

  • Carlton Anthony Chase

    This is so befitting of a George Orwell plot. It is terribly revealing, terribly sad. It seems so contrary to my vision of contemporary Afghanistan, and I consider myself to be well motivated to keeping informed and up-to-date on matters worldwide.

    It reminds me also of the current crisis in Kenya, a country that was so below the radar of most Africa watchers.

    Please let us know what can be done to help directly communicate to the authorities in Kabul and in the particular region, to spare this man’s life.

    Who would be best to write to in the U.S. State Department? These people are in power because of our taxpayers’ dollars. And this is a cause to rally hard around.

    I myself will do a bit of research to obtain some email addresses for the government of Afghanistan, and for some higher-ups at the U.S. embassy there.

    Thank you so much for this missal. In Peace.

  • Carlton Anthony Chase

    A quick follow-up to my commments above:

    I did a Google search for the U.S. embassy, in Kabul, and was given

    kabul.usembassy.gov

    which is not working.

    Under a different listening on Google I was able to retrieve that following contact information, regarding my government in that city.
    Interestingly, there is no contact information given for email. Others emabassies are listen at this particular site, complete with email addresses and websites. Interesting.

    The data I did retireve is:

    American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan
    U.S. Information Service in Kabul, Afghanistan

    Phone: (92) 91-279801

    The United States Public Affairs Program for Afghanistan is an important media and cultural link between the people of the United States and Afghanistan. Based at the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar, the U.S. Public Affairs Program for Afghanistan advocates and explains American policy on issues of interest to its Afghan audience. It also advises the U.S. Mission in Pakistan on issues of public diplomacy, and works closely with Afghan and foreign organizations to promote bilateral relations between the U.S. and Afghanistan. The U.S. Public Affairs Program for Afghanistan also reaches Pakistani audiences through its cultural and exchange programs.

    American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan
    U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan
    The Great Masoud Road,Kabul, Afghanistan

    Phone: Tel 93 – 2- 290002/5
    Fax: 93 – 2- 290153

    In Peace. And with prayers for this man in Northern Afghanistan

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