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Writing in exile

The Hannah Arendt Initiative supports journalists who are at risk, for example in Afghanistan. 

Lauralie Mylène Schweiger , 21.01.2023
The network provides protection and further training for journalists.
The network provides protection and further training for journalists. © Adobe Stock/oksix

Totalitarian regimes impede the work of journalists all over the world. Germany's Hannah Arendt Initiative is a civil-society network that supports at-risk media professionals from Afghanistan, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. It was launched in 2022 by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Andrea Marshall is project manager for 'Displacement and Dialogue South Asia' at the Deutsche Welle Academy. In the 'Space for Freedom' project, which is part of the Hannah Arendt Initiative, she campaigns for Afghan journalists in exile. 

Andrea Marshall of the DW Academy
Andrea Marshall of the DW Academy © Andrea Marshall

Ms Marshall, how does the project help journalists from Afghanistan?
Up until now, our 'Space for Freedom' project has supported 20 journalists who fled to neighbouring countries of Afghanistan after the Taliban took over power in August 2021. In the current year 2023, we aim to help 45 journalists. On the one hand, we support them financially. On the other, we offer them online workshops so that they can continue working in exile. 

What kind of support is provided for journalistic work? 
For example, they can take a course in 'mobile reporting' so they can position themselves well for reporting in exile. All our trainers come from Afghanistan and are native speakers of Dari or Pashto. In addition, we at Deutsche Welle (DW) have a well-qualified editorial team for programmes, and their members also speak Dari and Pashto. They have conducted some of the workshops, acted as mentors for the scholarship holders and, under tight security, worked with them on reports. 

This project liberates me from loneliness, despair and my great fear of being forgotten.
A participant from Afghanistan

Who is the target group of reports by journalists working in exile?
The 40 reports produced in this project were published in Dari and Pashto by Deutsche Welle. They are aimed at the population in Afghanistan, but also at people who have fled the country. Our aim was to provide the population at home and in host countries with high-quality reporting. However, the project is primarily intended to help people get started. The journalists do not work for us afterwards, but seek to go their own way after the training courses; in some cases we can help them with that. 

Women in particular are suffering under the Taliban regime. How many female journalists do you support with your programme?
So far, we have sponsored twelve men and eight women, which is a good ratio in view of the previous working conditions. Under the Taliban, women are only allowed to work in very few fields, and in exile their professional activities are also severely restricted for various reasons. We therefore place particular emphasis on working with female trainers and advisors in whom the participants can confide. 


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