Hamburg, 08/16/2021

Open Letter Urges Emergency Visa Program For Afghan Employees

Subject: Society
Country: International
Category: Project

In view of the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan, German media companies including RTL and G+J have written an open letter calling on the German government to set up an emergency visa program for Afghan employees. Otherwise, they face persecution, arrest, torture, and death.

In an open letter (German only), German publishers, editorial offices, broadcasters and media houses address Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maaß. The first signatories include “Die Zeit,” “Stern,” “Der Spiegel,” DPA and “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” among others. They call for an emergency visa program to be set up for the Afghan employees of German media organizations. After the withdrawal of international troops, including German troops, there are growing concerns that there will be acts of revenge by the Taliban against our employees. [...] We are convinced: There is no time to lose now. Our employees who want to leave the country are threatened with persecution, arrest, torture and death,” reads the petition. “Our reporting, which has provided the German public and politicians with analyses, insights and impressions from the country, would have been unthinkable without the efforts and bravery of the Afghan staff who supported us on the ground: the local journalists, stringers, and translators.” He added that an extraordinary visa program, such as the one the German government created for the Afghan military translators, was also urgently needed for employees of German media houses.” It goes on to say that an emergency visa program, such as the one created by the German government for the Afghan military translators, is also urgently needed for employees of German media companies.

Last week, following similar appeals from the U.S. media, the Biden administration had acknowledged the dramatically increased danger faced by employees of foreign media and included them in its refugee program for Afghanistan. The British government has indicated that it, too, is preparing a similar decision. The Open Letter is a joint initiative by Arte, the German Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV), “Der Spiegel,” Deutsche Welle, Deutschlandradio, “Die Zeit,” DPA, “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,” MDR, NTV, Reporters Without Borders, RTL, “Stern,” “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” and “TAZ.” Please click here  to read the full text of the open letter.