AIMC pays homage to "8Sobh" daily
The daily was honoured with the annual prize by Reporters without Borders, a French-based international non-governmental organisation that advocates freedom of the press, for its outstanding performance in militancy-plagued areas.
The Killid media group and its partners -- Pajhwok Afghan News and Saba Media Organistaion -- within the newly-created AIMC --- called the daily a valuable asset to the country during a ceremony to pay homage to the paper's staff.
Afghanistan National Union of Journalists chairman Abdul Hameed Mubariz called the paper a political, social, cultural daily informing people across the country.
"It is indeed a matter of pride and a good achievement for an Afghan daily to be adorned with such a great prize," a civil society activist, Najla Ayubi, said.
"It is a big success for media in Afghanistan where the freedom of expression still faces serious challenges," Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission commissioner Sima Samar told participants of the ceremony celebrating the prize given to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Najibullah Khilwatgar, the executive director of Nai, an organisation that supports free media in Afghanistan, said that up to 69 incidents of violence against journalists took place in 2012. The government was responsible for 45 incidents of violence during the year, he recalled.
Khilwatgar asked the government to abide by the country's constitution, support freedom of expression and bring to justice those involved in violence on journalists. He criticised some media outlets for what he alleged supporting foreign intelligence networks.
"Currently, media in Afghanistan is passing through a difficult time. The media should be used to bring about positive changes in people's behaviour and be funded through domestic resources," suggested Amrullah Saleh, former National Directorate of Security (NDS), the spy service, chief.
Addressing the ceremony, Danish Karokhel, Pajhwok Afghan News (PAN) director, read out a declaration on behalf of AIMC, paying tributes to RSF for awarding the prize to "8Sobh". He said such moves could help encourage media outlets in the war-torn country. "I believe it is very important to support and encourage media organisations in Afghanistan while taking into account the existing threats," Danish read from the declaration.
He said their consortium was proud of the paper as member of it for drawing the international community's attention towards huge challenges facing the media.
"Under the prevailing circumstances, independent media outlets not only need financial support from the international community, but they also need to support and cooperate with each other," the declaration said.
The consortium asked the international community to continue its financial and technical support towards independent media outlets in Afghanistan in order to keep them functioning and help them preserve gains the media had achieved so far over the past decade.
"Media outlets should not broadcast or publish programmes that could fuel religious, racial and linguistic differences. The media has to respond professionally to the current challenges and should continue prudent programmes without any discrimination against a particular party," the declaration concluded.
Reporters Without Borders, "Le Monde," and TV5Monde have awarded their annual Press Freedom Prize to the Afghan daily "8Sobh" and Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish.
The prize committee paid tribute to the daily "8Sobh" as "living evidence that freely-reported quality journalism can develop in the most difficult corners of the planet.”
It honoured Darwish, who has been imprisoned since February, for "displaying extraordinary courage in the face of danger."
Since 1992, Reporters Without Borders has been honouring journalists and news media across the world for the defence and promotion of press freedom.
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