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RFE/RL Afghan Service Takes Bronze In 2013 Lovie Awards

RFE/RL's Afghan Service, Radio Azadi, is a Lovie Award Bronze Winner in the Internet Video Documentary category for "At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt." The report, written by Frud Bezhan and produced by Sayed Jan Sabawoon, depicts the helpless cycle of debt and extreme poverty of Zabit Khan and his eight children, all of whom must work 14 hours a day in brick factory to pay off debts the father accumulated while moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan. It was first published in January 2013.

WATCH: "At Afghan Brickworks, Family Trapped in Cycle of Debt"

In addition to the Lovie Award, the Afghan National Journalists Union (ANJU) in May also awarded Sabawoon the 2013 Ajmal Naqshbandi Media Award, which recognizes the bravery of journalists. In recognizing Sabawoon's work, ANJU said he was “making significant efforts” by reporting in difficult places despite being harassed and abused for his work.

Radio Azadi’s journalists are constantly under threat of violence and intimidation from the Taliban, warlords, and other extremists in the region. Despite these dangerous conditions, the Service has attracted the attention of government officials by bringing community issues to light and facilitating change in the region. Azadi journalists have met with government officials and regional experts on many subjects, from the plight of the severely handicapped, to displaced persons, to impoverished and malnourished children. Videos are published in the local languages from where they are produced (most frequently in the Service’s official languages of Dari and Pashto ) and are translated into other languages for distribution outside of Afghanistan.

While attempts have been made in Afghanistan to restrict media freedom in the name of "Islamic values” -- defamation can be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine; the punishment for blasphemy can be death -- Radio Azadi’s director Hashem Mohmand said the reaction from government officials has been largely positive. “The fact that they are receptive to the issues we have brought to them is significant itself,” he added.

Radio Azadi’s photojournalists produce 15-20 videos a month (Dari / Pashto), a number they plan to increase as all Azadi journalists take part in extensive video journalism training through the end of 2014. Mohmand noted that this “new era of multimedia” makes photojournalism and video journalism increasingly important, noting “Alone, radio is not enough.”
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