Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO today condemned a deadly suicide attack on the offices of public broadcaster, Afghanistan Radio and Television, which claimed the lives of six people, four RTA employees among them, in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on 17 May.
“I condemn this horrendous attack on freedom of expression and freedom of information,” said the Director-General. “Such an act of terror should rally us all to redouble our commitment to protecting the media and promoting freedom of expression, freedom of information and media pluralism.
“UNESCO stands by the people of Afghanistan as we have since the early 2000s, when we supported the development of public broadcasting and independent media in the country,” Ms Bokova added.
The attack lasted several hours and left some 20 people injured. Those killed have not been named.
Since 2001, UNESCO implemented a range of activities to support public broadcasting, educational television and independent media in Afghanistan, notably by providing equipment, training, and legal expertise.
The Director-General of UNESCO issues statements on the killing of media workers in line with Resolution 29 adopted by UNESCO Member States at the Organization’s General Conference of 1997, entitled “Condemnation of Violence against Journalists.” These statements are posted on a dedicated webpage, UNESCO condemns the killing of journalists.
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UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”