Just in Time for Election: Afghanistan Introduces Sweeping New Censorship

Don't Expect Any Coverage During Thursday's Vote

by Jason Ditz, August 18, 2009

Thursday was supposed to be a busy day for journalists covering Afghanistan. The nation holds its long-delayed presidential vote in the face of an ever worsening security situation and multiple threats from militant groups to launch major attacks, which makes for a potentially explosive day.

But don’t expect to read about it. Taking a page out of the book of neighboring Iran, the Afghan government has decided to insistute massive censorship of what is allowed to be covered during Thursday’s vote, and officials have made it very clear; coverage of the various bombings which are expected will not be tolerated.

The Taliban also went out of their way to deny that any deal for a single-day ceasefire had been made, describing it as a governement trick designed to increase voter participation. Top US commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal conceded today that the Taliban has grown in power and is at its strongest point since it was ousted from power in the 2001 US invasion.

But for one day at least, the constant reports of rising violence in Afghanistan will stop. Not that the violence will stop, of course, just that the media won’t be allowed to report on it. The strategy of censorship did not exactly work wonders for the legitimacy of the Iranian government in the wake of its vote, but then the US State Department is unlikely to help dissidents get information out of the country this time either.

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