(Trade Union News from Finland – Heikki Jokinen)
Journalists from Afghanistan have arrived safely in Finland, say the Union of Journalists in Finland UJF. The Union accommodates them with their family members temporarily in flats the union owns.
For security reasons, the Union cannot disclose yet how many people have arrived and how they got to Finland.
“Afghan journalists and fixers have been helping Finns to get information from the region. Now it is our turn to help”, said UJF President Hanne Aho in a press release in September.
The International Federation of Journalists, based in Brussels, logged already in August some 2 000 requests for help from Afghan journalists and media workers. According to IFJ, at least 140 local media outlets were closed down in Afghanistan.
“We work through the International Federation of Journalists”, President Aho says. A global union has better possibilities to negotiate and get journalists out of the country. “The work is not yet over. The international community must continue with evacuations.”
UJF is closely monitoring the situation in Afghanistan and has continuous contact with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Already in August, the union forwarded more than one hundred Afghan journalists’ requests for help to the Ministry and IFJ.
Aho says that the immediate task is to get journalists in danger to safety. “The journalist profession is life-threatening in Afghanistan at the moment. Female journalists face the biggest danger, but anyone who has been working in media might be under threat.”
However, at the same time we must work towards a situation where local and foreign journalists can work in the country, Aho adds.
The Afghan member union of IFJ and local media groups met in September Ahmadullah Wasiq, a senior official of the Taliban’s cultural affairs, to discuss the safety of journalists.
IFJ is still concerned. “While Taliban officials have expressed sentiments in support of press freedom in Afghanistan, the actions of Taliban militants are contradictory”, IFJ says.