International PEN is deeply concerned by the delay in journalist Sayed Parvez Kambakhsh’s appeal to a death sentence for the alleged crime of blasphemy. PEN calls upon President Hamid Karzai to intervene in this case as a matter of urgency, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh in accordance with Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The appeal hearing scheduled for May 25, 2008, was reportedly adjourned due to Kambakhsh’s ill health. This followed an earlier adjournment on May 18, on the grounds that a defense lawyer was not present.

Background Information

Twenty-three-year-old Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, a journalism student at Balkh University and reporter for the local daily Jahan-e-Naw (The New World), was arrested on October 27, 2007, in Mazar-i-Sharif, northern Afghanistan, for distributing allegedly anti-Islamic literature. He was detained by National Directorate of Security forces on blasphemy charges after downloading and distributing an article that said the Prophet Mohammed ignored women’s rights. He was not the author of the article. He was also accused of possessing anti-Islamic books and starting un-Islamic debates in his classes. While Kambakhsh admits to circulating the article, he denies the accusations of blasphemy.

Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh was tried by an Islamic court in Mazar-i-Sharif on January 22, 2008, and sentenced to death. The trial was held behind closed doors, and he had no legal representation. Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh has also been targeted for association with his brother, prominent journalist Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, who works for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting. Ibrahimi has been under pressure for his critical reporting on local officials and warlords. According to his brother, Kambakhsh’s health is deteriorating in prison as a result of poor prison conditions and severe psychological stress.

Write A Letter

  • expressing shock at the death sentence handed down to journalist Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh on blasphemy charges;
  • calling for President Karzai to secure Kambakhsh's immediate and unconditional release in accordance with Afghan law and Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Islamic State of Afghanistan
His Excellency Hamid Karzai
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Hameed Nasry Wardak
Ministry of Information and Cultural Affairs
Tel: +93 700 989 696

Spokesperson for President Karzai
Humayun Hamidzada
Tel: +93 797 163 355

Please send appeals c/o the ambassador to Afghanistan in your country.