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Open Letter to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai

Dear President Karzai,

        We are writing to you to express the serious concern of the Hong Kong Journalist Association (HKJA) over the decision of a primary court in Balkh province to sentence Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh to death.
        According to reports from the International Federation of Journalists and its local affiliates, including the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), Mr. Kambakhsh, a journalism student and reporter for the daily newspaper Jahan-e Naw, was convicted of blasphemy for allegedly downloading an article from a Farsi-language web site and distributing it among four friends and for possessing books that contain anti-Islamic sentiment.
        The HKJA urges you to intervene in this case, which has denied Mr. Kambakhsh the right of free expression and a fair trial. He was not represented by a lawyer at his trial, which was held in a religious Islamic court.
        Freedom of expression is internationally protected as a basic human right under Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
        The HKJA is further dismayed at this death sentence as it indicates a disregard by your government for its own Constitution in protecting the rights of Mr. Kambakhsh.

        Article 34 of the Constitution of Afghanistan states: “Freedom of expression shall be inviolable. Every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this constitution.”

        We urge you to repeal the court’s decision to execute Mr. Kambakhsh and to respect, uphold and protect the rights of all citizens in Afghanistan regardless of their religious or political beliefs.
    With Kind Regards,
Hong Kong Journalists Assocation
01/02/2008 19:54   updated more
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