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PRINT&more, Pressefreiheit, Farida Nekzad

Der lange Weg zur Freiheit

International Medienpolitik

Farida Nekzad kämpft auch in Deutschland für Pressefreiheit, Gerechtigkeit und eine pluralistische Öffentlichkeit in Afghanistan

Artikel aus der PRINT&more 3/2014.

Menschenrechte, Pressefreiheit und Gleichstellung sind keine Selbstverständlichkeit – die afghanische
Journalistin Farida Nekzad hatte die Vision einer pluralistischen Gesellschaft bereits in ihren Kindheitstagen. Heute gehört sie zu den renommiertesten Journalisten ihres Heimatlandes. Der Weg dorthin war riskant und führte über viele Umwege: 2002 aus dem Exil in Pakistan und einem Studium in Indien zurückgekehrt, leitete sie als Chefredakteurin zwischen 2004 und 2009 die größte afghanische Nachrichtenagentur "Pajhwok News". Sie engagierte sich in ihrer Position als Chefredakteurin der "Wakht News Agency" für die Gleichberechtigung der Frau, arbeite als gewähltes Mitglied und Leiterin bis Juni 2014 in der "Media Commission" und schulte junge Journalistinnen. Morddrohungen, eine versuchte Entführung und der stetige Kampf gegen Korruption sowie die vorherrschenden gesellschaftlichen Gegebenheiten hielten sie nie davon ab, ihre publizistische Tätigkeit weiter zu verfolgen. Dank der Hamburger Stiftung für politisch Verfolgte verbringt Farida Nekzad nun ein Jahr in Deutschland. Es sind die ersten Tage in Ruhe und Frieden nach 13 Jahren Angst.

Der Wunsch nach einem Land ohne Terror und Gewalt verstummt dabei aber nicht. PRINT&more sprach mit Farida Nekzad über ihre Sicht der Pressefreiheit und ihre Pläne für die Zukunft.

PRINT&more | Ms. Nekzad, you have been in Germany since June. How did you experience your first three months here?

Farida Nekzad | When I arrived in Germany I immediately felt the freedom and safety of this country. For the last 13 years I never had the chance to rest and relax. It is a great pleasure to see my daughter playing. She will go to preschool soon. We don't need to be afraid of the Taliban or other attacks anymore.

Despite the threat of radical Islamists, as an investigative journalist you decided to stay for a long time in Afghanistan. What was the deciding factor which led you to leave Afghanistan after all?

The main reason was my daughter, she was affected and shocked by the killing of AFP reporter Ahmad Sadar and his family; the attack on the Independent Electoral Commission and my office building.

One day, she asked my husband why Taliban kill children. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night crying, afraid that we will die because of an attack. Here in Germany we have the opportunity to learn and experience something new, to build a better future.

I had a great job. I was a hard working person and well-known in my country. Due to the political and safety circumstances I had to move to Pakistan. When the US stabilized the situation in Afghanistan I came back. However, in the end, I couldn't continue my life there and left Kabul on the 15th of July, one day after the election.

I think the situation in Afghanistan is getting worse day by day. I saw a remote possibility to stabilize the situation in the short term. Will we see a peaceful country where our children can enjoy their childhood? – Allah knows.

If you remember the situation before the military intervention in 2001 and the situation after, what are your impressions of that time?

Before 2001 it's just a dark period of Taliban. No presence of media, no education for girls, no presence of women. There were only narrow minded and Taliban ideas.

We lost everything and carried my injured father – God Bless him – to Pakistan. It was not easy for him, he always looked after us by providing us with all the amenities we needed.

Does the withdrawal of the international troops from Afghanistan actually have any negative influence in the security of the journalists right now?

For sure, it has – the attention and support of the troops had improvements not only for journalists but also for the main part of our society. Particularly the provincial reconstruction teams PRT which contributed to reconstruction of schools, mosques, roads, hospitals, etc. If the international troops leave Afghanistan, journalists won't feel secure.

Which perspectives do you see for free and independent journalism in Afghanistan?

Our situation is not comparable with the 1990s anymore. Nowadays there is freedom of the press after defeating the Taliban groups. We feel the support of the international community and the local government to inform us about most of the issues, such as progress, reconstruction, development, crime, traffic, corruption, violence against human rights specifically dealing with children and women.

Currently in many countries of the world critical journalists are prosecuted. What is your point of view of the development of the freedom of the press?

As I mentioned before, after defeating the Taliban the media law and constitution were reviewed. Unfortunately, the implementation of the new regulation failed. Journalists still have problems when covering and writing about corruption, rape and sexuality, violence and other issues.

Our biggest problem is probably, that many of the illegal businesses still have the support of the government.

Those who try to write about these issues have been killed and nobody follows or investigates their cases. For instance, since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, 43 reporters and journalists have been killed up until now. No one has investigated these cases to punish the criminals.

It's difficult to be a critically reporting journalist in a corrupt, authoritarian system with the threat by Islamist Taliban – it's even more difficult to be a woman in this society. So why did you choose
this difficult path for yourself?

First of all, it was my childhood dream, secondly I always wondered, why women were discriminated in our society. So, I started this job and wrote much more about human and woman rights.

Afghanistan is a man-dominated country. Therefore I wanted to protect women and children's rights. However, I am not a feminist. How is it possible that the patriarch of a family decides to marry his 13 year old daughter with a 50 year old man? I want to build a bridge between the society and the government, by sharing news in order to find solutions and to inform the international community about what is going on in Afghanistan.

What are your plans for your stay at the Hamburg Foundation and do you already have plans for after?

No, I have not made any decision yet because it depends on the situation in Afghanistan and my daughter's safety. I love my country and my profession as a journalist. Finally I want to thank Mr. Karzai, who has supported the freedom of the press. Hopefully the next president respects these big achievements and values the freedom of the press in Afghanistan.

Dieser Beitrag erschien in der PRINT&more 3/2014.

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