Berlin (dpa) – In an open letter, several German publishers, media houses, broadcasters and editors have asked the federal government for help for their local employees in Afghanistan.
In a “cry for help” published Sunday, they asked Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) for an emergency visa program in view of the Taliban advance. The lives of these freelancers are in acute danger: “After the withdrawal of international troops, including the Germans, there are growing concerns that the Taliban will retaliate against our employees.”
“Our coverage, which provided the German public and politicians with analyses, findings and impressions from the country, was unimaginable without the commitment and courage of the Afghan staff who supported us on the ground,” the appeal read. They shared a belief in the free press as an indispensable element of a stable, peaceful, balanced democracy – a value that the German government has strongly supported in Afghanistan for the past 20 years.
“We hereby call on you to establish an emergency visa program for Afghan employees of German media companies. We join calls from the UK and US media to their respective governments,” the letter continues. Its first signatories are “Zeit”, the German news agency, “Spiegel” and the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”.
The federal government has repeatedly recognized the pivotal role Afghan translators have played for the Bundeswehr and the immense danger to which they are exposed because of their work. For this reason, she has created an extraordinary visa program for them. Such a program is now desperately needed for the employees of German media companies.
“Without these brave Afghans, the German public and politicians would not have been informed about the terms and conditions of the 20-year Bundeswehr mission. The work of these people was as indispensable to the Federal Republic’s commitment to Afghanistan as that of the Bundeswehr’s translators,” the letter said.
The letter also points out that the number of those affected is manageable. There are several dozen people, including their families.
The open letter is a joint initiative of: Arte, Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), “Der Spiegel”, Deutsche Welle, Deutschlandradio, “Die Zeit”, German Press Agency, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, MDR, n- tv, Reporters Without Borders, RTL, “Stern”, “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “taz”. The hashtags #HelftunserenHelfern and #Amdadullah are used on social media to inform about this.