New Delhi, 19 July 2021: Urging governments and human rights bodies to strengthen their commitment towards the safety and security of journalists as frontline defenders, the South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN) today called for an independent investigation into the death of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Danish Siddiqui in Afghanistan.
“The details on this tragic death of a Reuters photojournalist, while covering clashes between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, are murky and inconclusive. Siddiqui’s family, admirers of his work and aspiring journalists who look up him deserve clarity and more information on the circumstances under which he died,” it said.
SAMDEN, a group of more than 60 journalists from South Asia that is anchored in the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), expressed condolences for Siddiqui’s death, remembering the brilliance of his journalism and the dedication to capture the life and its peculiarities of people with a humane eye.
“His photographs provided the subaltern lens to journalism in the Global South, revealing several realities of marginalized communities as well as the middle class in just one photograph,” it noted.
“This untimely death means that the international community must become more aware of the dangers that embedding journalists in security forces presents. It also necessitates that governments and civil society organisations must engage more with state and non-state actors to create safe and secure working spaces for journalists,” SAMDEN added.
Lauded for his coverage of some of the most painful stories of conflict, humanitarian crises and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic in South Asia and the Middle East, Siddiqui was embedded in the Afghan security forces in his last assignment with Reuters.
Founded in 2017 SAMDEN seeks to support media workers by helping them work securely, monitoring intimidation and attacks against freedom of expression, and pressing for greater openness and accountability.
SAMDEN co-conveners include Sanjoy Hazarika, journalist, commentator and International Director of CHRI; Kanak Mani Dixit, founding editor, Himal South Asian; Mahfuz Anam, Editor, The Daily Star, Dhaka; Salil Tripathi, Chair, PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee; Beena Sarwar, Boston-based journalist, film maker and media teacher; and Kalpana Sharma, senior journalist and author.
For further information, contact: Sanjoy Hazarika, International Director, CHRI