SAPAN: Investigate death of Danish Siddiqui, ensure safety of journalists, speak up for peace and security

South Asia Peace Action Network mourns the tragic death of Pulitzer-Prize winning Reuters photojournalist Danish Siddiqui. Siddiqui was embedded with Afghan special forces as they battled Taliban fighters in Kandahar. We join other voices calling for a probe into his death and to ensure accountability.  

Danish Siddiqui’s body of work over the years has been instrumental in drawing worldwide attention to human tragedies and challenges that might otherwise have remained invisible. In particular, we remember his photographs from all over South Asia, whether following the Rohingya exodus into Bangladesh, the Nepal earthquake of 2015, attacks on religious communities in India, the 2020 Delhi riots or the heartbreak of Covid pandemic cremations in New Delhi.

Truly, Danish Siddiqui was a chronicler of modern times and the tragedy of his killing once again highlights the grave danger journalists face as they seek to inform the world. His name has also been added to the tragic list of journalists killed on the job in Afghanistan.

The safety of journalists must be a priority especially in conflict zones and their neutrality must be recognised by all stakeholders. The inadequate efforts towards institution-building or accountability, and the lack of investigation into criminal acts over the past years in Afghanistan have led to a situation of lawlessness and impunity. This impacts Afghan citizens, and also the journalists covering the situation.

As fellow South Asians, we members of SAPAN unequivocally express our distress at the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and extend our solidarity to the millions of Afghans caught in the spiral of violence and fear for the future. The people of Afghanistan deserve robust social, political and economic institutions. We are particularly concerned about the situation of women and children in the country.

While the whole world should be concerned about the worsening state of peace and security in Afghanistan, we especially call upon the governments and civil society of South Asia to raise their voices for the sake of peace and stability in the region.

A moving two minute report by BBC (17 July 2021)

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