Freedom of the press

The plight of Sayad Parwez Kambaksh is attracting some international attention, including the obligatory Facebook group, but not as much as it should. Kambaksh is a journalism student who downloaded material from the internet which was said to offend against the rules of Islam, although there seems to be confusion about exactly what law has been broken. What is known is that Kambaksh has been hastily tried and sentenced to death.

This reminds me of the case of Farzad Bazoft nearly 20 years ago. He was the Iranian-born journalist who was arrested for spying while working for the Observer in Iraq. He was arrested and executed, at a time when the West still saw Saddam Hussein as a useful bulwark against the Ayatollah in Iran and the Soviet Union beyond. I was one of many people who sent protests calling for Farzad’s realease, all brutally ignored by Saddam. The West’s failure to deal more firmly with Saddam then was, in hindsight, one of many steps on the way to the disaster of the Iraq war.

President Karzi is no Saddam Hussein, on the contrary he has spoken eloquently on the subject of freedom. But in the West’s commitment to support Karzi and bring peace to Afghanistan, we must not let basic rights be undermined. Sayad Parwez Kambaksh must be released. Or else what are we fighting for?

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1 Comment »

  1. […] one of the millions marching against the invasion of Iraq, an immoral and illegal war. But I had no illusions about Saddam Hussein; and I still hoped that some good might come from this evil, in the form of a […]

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