Suicide Bombing kills 80 during peaceful protest in Afghanistan
On 23rd June, a suicide bombing during a protest in Kabul killed 80 people and injured more than 200. The protest was staged by the Hazara community over a new proposed power line that bypasses the provinces where they live. The bombing, which was perpetrated by the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (IS), illustrates the threats experienced by Afghan civil society and activists from violent non-state actors. This attack is the worst bombing in Kabul since 2001, highlighting a worrying decline in respect for civic space, mainly because of the actions of proscribed terrorist organisations. The incident also calls into question the ability of the Afghan authorities to adequately protect demonstrators in public areas.
On 31st April, the Minister of Economy set up a working group with civil society representatives to draft a new law governing non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The working group, which includes both government and civil society representatives, is set to conclude its deliberations over the coming weeks. It intends to take on board suggestions for improvement of the legal framework made by civil society organisations during consultations carried out by the International Centre for Not-for-profit Law in 2014 and 2015.
Local groups documenting abuses against journalists and media outlets report that June was 'the bloodiest month for Journalism' in Afghanistan. 10 cases of violence against journalists were recorded in the month of June alone. On 5th June, Zabihullah Tamanna and David Gilkey, both journalists, were killed in a rocket attack by the Taliban in Helmand province. On 20th June, security forces beat and harassed journalists who were trying to cover a suicide bombing that killed 22 people. The authorities' treatment of the journalists prompted an outcry from international groups.