English PEN is deeply concerned by the delay in the hearing of journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh’s appeal against a death sentence for the alleged crime of “blasphemy”.
Twenty-three year-old Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, journalism student at Balkh university and reporter for the local daily Jahan-e-Naw (The New World), was arrested on 27 October 2007 in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, northern Afghanistan for distributing allegedly anti-Islamic literature. He was detained by National Directorate of Security (NDS) forces on blasphemy charges after downloading and giving to friends an article that allegedly said the Prophet Mohammed ignored women’s rights. He was not the author of the article. He was also reportedly accused of possessing allegedly anti-Islamic books and starting un-Islamic debates in his classes. Whilst Kambakhsh admits to circulating the article, he denies the accusations of blasphemy.
Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh was tried by an Islamic court in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh Province, on 22 January 2008, and sentenced to death. The trial was reportedly held behind closed doors, and he had no legal representation. An appeal hearing was scheduled for 25 May 2008 but was reportedly adjourned due to Kambakhsh’s ill health. This followed an earlier adjournment on 18 May, on the grounds that a defence lawyer was not present.
Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh is feared to be targeted for association with his brother, prominent journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who works for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and has been under escalating pressure for his critical reporting on local officials and warlords. According to his brother, Kambakhsh’s health is seriously deteriorating in prison as a result of poor prison conditions and severe psychological stress.
English PEN calls upon President Hamid Karzai to
personally intervene in this case as a matter of urgency, and calls for
the immediate and unconditional release of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh in
accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
To learn a first hand account of the hearing, please read
Hopes Dashed for Afghan Journalist’s Release, an article by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Please send appeals
– Expressing shock at the death sentence handed down to journalist Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh on blasphemy charges;
– Calling for President Karzai to intervene to secure his immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Afghan law and Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
His Excellency Hamid Karzai
President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Mr Hameed Nasry Wardak
Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs
Mr Humayun Hamidzada
Spokesperson for President Karzai
It may be most effective to send the above appeal letter via the Afghan Government’s representative in London:
His Excellency Dr Rahim Sherzoy
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
31 Prince’s Gate
London SW7 1QQ
Fax: 020 7584 4801
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/afghanistandeathsentencejournalistremainsdetained/