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Annual photo contest launched in honour of AFP photographer Shah Marai, killed in Kabul bomb attack

Agence France-Presse is launching an annual photography competition to honour Kabul bureau chief photographer, Shah Marai, who was killed in a suicide attack on April 30, 2018.

Throughout his career, Shah Marai showed the reality of life in Afghanistan with passion and tenderness. During 17 years of conflict, his photos captured moments of raw violence but also moments of beauty.

To the outside world, Afghanistan is defined by the images of violence and tragedy that appear regularly on international news. But behind the violence of the conflict lies another country, full of human warmth and daily toil. It was also this country that Shah Marai was constantly striving to show to the rest of the world.

That’s what inspired “My Afghanistan,” the theme of the competition. Afghan photographers living in Afghanistan or overseas are invited to submit from February 5 a series of photographs. These will reflect the reality of their people in Afghanistan or abroad, in their daily life, culture, environment, or social issues. Other angles could be used to tell the story of “their Afghanistan.”

Three prizes will be awarded in May at a ceremony in Paris. The contest also aims to support Afghan photographers.

Enter the competition at

Human Rights Press Awards – fundraising appeal

Dear Member,

For more than two decades, the FCC has proudly hosted the Human Rights Press Awards, rewarding work by journalists who shine a light on overlooked abuses across Asia. The Awards are a flagship FCC event in line with a core mission of the club: to stand up for press freedom across Asia.

Merit, Photography Feature, 21st Human Rights Press Awards. Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images Merit, Photography Feature, 21st Human Rights Press Awards. Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images

This year, the Awards are particularly important as the environment becomes ever-more repressive for journalists. Critical media outlets in Cambodia and the Philippines were threatened with closure. New “Fake News” laws risk criminalising free speech in Malaysia. Two Reuters journalists face as many as 14 years in prison in Myanmar. And as I write these lines, we are coming to terms with the terrible news of the April 30 attack in Afghanistan that killed ten journalists in two separate incidents, including highly respected AFP chief photographer Shah Marai.

The 2018 Awards that will be announced on May 12 have had a record number of submissions: 414 stories, photos, commentaries, videos, multimedia and radio pieces, in total. One judge called it the “best slate of entries in years”.

The FCC is the biggest sponsor of the Awards, which are run jointly with Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists’ Association. As the Awards have grown, so has the workload and expense. A few private donors already contribute, but we would greatly appreciate even further support from our Club’s members.

We hope to find in particular one-off financial support for the HK$5,000 cost of flying in the event’s keynote speaker – a newspaper publisher from Myanmar who spent years in jail.

As a member of the FCC, you can make a financial donation, as small or as large as you see fit, directly from your account to the HRPA.

If you wish to find out more about the HRPA, please visit the website which also features a video on the making of this year’s awards. If you would like to have a private discussion about donations or other ways to contribute, do not hesitate to contact Sarah Stewart ([email protected]), co-convenor of the Press Freedom Committee and a Governor of the FCC.

I thank you very much in advance for your generous support of these Awards that reward and celebrate the many brave reporters across the region.


Florence de Changy

“Yes I would like to support the HRPA” 

FCC Hong Kong remembers fallen journalists on World Press Freedom Day 2018

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the FCC honours the memory of the 10 journalists who lost their lives in Afghanistan this week, and calls on Afghan authorities to safeguard and facilitate the vital work of the country’s media.

The targeting of Afghan journalists in a suicide attack in Kabul comes against a backdrop of mounting threats to press freedom across Asia, creating one of the most restrictive environments for media workers in recent memory. Tools including fake news laws in Malaysia, press shutdowns in Cambodia and the Philippines, and outright violence elsewhere have created a dangerous climate that poses a fundamental threat to democracy.

Press freedom is at the core of free societies around the globe. For those who believe in keeping the powerful accountable to the public, it’s more important than ever to speak up.

FCC Hong Kong stands in solidarity with Afghan journalists after April 30 attack

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong was deeply shocked and saddened by the deaths of 10 journalists in Afghanistan on April 30, including AFP’s highly respected chief photographer Shah Marai, much loved by his peers and the father of six children.

The reporters had all rushed to the scene of an earlier suicide attack in Kabul and were killed in a second blast, specifically targeting the media and other first responders.

“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” AFP quoted a police spokesman as saying.

The FCC stands to defend press freedom throughout the region and is appalled by this brutal and despicable attack. It calls on Afghan authorities to safeguard and facilitate the important work of the country’s journalists.

In a separate incident on the same day, Ahmad Shah, a 29-year-old reporter with the BBC’s Afghan service, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Khost province, the broadcaster said.

We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the 10 journalists killed.

Those who lost their lives in Kabul were:

Mahram Durani – Azadi Radio
Ebadullah Hananzai – Azadi Radio
Yar Mohammad Tokhi – TOLO News Cameraman
Ghazi Rasooli – 1TV Journalist
Nowroz Ali Rajabi– 1TV Cameraman
Shah Marai – AFP Photographer
Saleem Talash – Mashal TV
Ali Saleemi – Mashal TV
Sabawoon Kakar – Azadi Radio

“This terrorist attack is a war crime and an organised attack on the Afghan media,” the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists (AFJ) said in a statement.

The FCC would like to express its solidarity with all journalists in Afghanistan who work heroically, risking their lives on a daily basis. April 30 will be remembered as the deadliest day for Afghanistan’s media since the fall of the Taliban.

Tributes for AFP chief photographer killed in Kabul suicide bombing

Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, has died following a suicide bombing in the Afghan capital on April 30.

Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, died on April 30. Photo: AFP Shah Marai, Agence France-Presse’s chief photographer in Kabul, died on April 30. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP

Marai joined AFP as a driver in 1996, the year the Taliban seized power, and began taking pictures on the side, covering stories including the US invasion in 2001.

In 2002 he became a full-time photo stringer, rising through the ranks to become chief photographer in the bureau. He leaves behind six children, including a newborn daughter.

In a statement posted on Twitter, AFP’s Global News Director, Michele Leridon said the news was a “devastating blow” to colleagues and the organisation.

News of Marai’s death prompted a flood of tributes on Twitter.

Ministry spokesman Wahid Majroh told Afghanistan’s largest private TV channel Tolo news that at least 27 people were wounded and rushed to hospital. Marai was among three journalists reportedly killed in the blast.

“The bomber disguised himself as a journalist and detonated himself among the crowd,” police spokesman Kabul Hashmat Stanikzai said.

In 2016, Marai wrote a blog, When Hope Is Gone, for AFP detailing his life in Afghanistan, and how the return of the Taliban more than a decade after the American invasion in 2001 was once again devastating the country.

“Fifteen years after the American intervention, the Afghans find themselves without money, without work, just with the Taliban at their doorstep,’ he wrote. “I have never felt life to have so little prospects and I don’t see a way out. It’s a time of anxiety.”

Mahfouz Zubaide, a BBC News producer based in Afghanistan, paid tribute to Marai in a piece written for the Corporation’s website.

“Throughout it all Shah Marai was calm, smiling and positive. He was never scared of danger,” he wrote.

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