I went to Afghanistan almost 10 years ago as part of a promise, a promise that is being withdrawn.
I went to Kabul to teach for a few weeks, a fantastic gathering of young Afghan men and women aged 17 to 22, a few of the basics of video journalism. We talked about reporting and sourcing, and checking what your sources say. We talked about camera angles and frames and editing the video to marry a narrative text. But we also talked about why video was the medium for portraying reality, showing what’s happening and why that was important to a free and democratic society.
The promise in my presence and in the program sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was that America and its allies would help my students get to an Afghanistan where you could do TV news or radio or online reporting and win both respect and self-respect.
Guess what — at least in Kabul and maybe a few other cities, there is a new Afghanistan, of new opportunities, and new appetites, including a consuming interest in news. But it may not last.
The promised Afghanistan — where people have an option to be modern, to be informed, to choose their shoes or the shape of their lives — exists.
But what the enemies of a modern Afghanistan hate the most is that option — to be independently, honestly informed. You can see that in the bombers’ relentless focus of attacks on schools and journalists.
In the space of a week, a suicide truck bomber killed 21 people and injured 90 in eastern Logar Province targeting a humble guesthouse used by high school students, while in western Farah province another truck bomb was set off close to a school — 21 hurt there; and, worst of all, a series of three car bombs sequenced for maximum killing at a high school in Kabul. At least 80 lives were lost, almost all of the dead were schoolgirls.
And, The Guardian reports, The Afghan Journalists Safety Committee has recently created a network of safe houses for journalists under threat and that at least a dozen Afghan newspeople have left the country, helped to temporary safety by a group called International Media Support.
Ilias Alami is an Afghan journalist and leader of the online news site Kabul Insider. He was the Operations Manager of Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC), which he helped to found. Throughout his career in AJSC, Ilias Alami has developed and led many campaigns to end violence against journalists, promoting good and balanced journalism and ending impunity against crimes against journalists in Afghanistan. Alami started the research and analysis section of AJSC in 2013 that has constantly monitored and produced in-depth analysis and repots on the overall situation of freedom of expression, media and violence against journalists. Ilias has also been a keen advocate of building the capacity of journalists in different fields of personal safety, digital security and the use of new and online media. He has also developed several training manuals on the topics and have conducted numerous training around the country.
Ilias Alami holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Sciences and Public Administration from American University of Afghanistan. He was a Seeds of Peace GATHER 2016 fellow. He also participated in Afghan Voices, a one-year journalism program in 2010 in which one of his instructors was Dave Marash who is very proud of his former student.