Press freedom in Afghanistan is seriously threatened by the Taliban, as journalists have been beaten by Islamist militants despite their commitment to protect media freedom, Afghan journalists said.
About 20 local journalists and activists gathered in Kabul on Friday and called on the international community to ensure their safety under the Taliban regime, which regained control of Afghanistan on August 15.
People participate in a rally for the safety of journalists on August 27, 2021 in Kabul. (Kyodo)
“Journalists before the takeover were at peace,” said a Kabul-based journalist who joined the rally. “But many of our brothers and sisters in the profession have been threatened and many fear that they will face serious threats from the Islamic Emirate.”
Reporters have been beaten by Taliban soldiers for no reason, said the 29-year-old journalist, adding “We want assurance of our security from the current Islamic Emirate.”
Since the Taliban took control of the country, many journalists have left Afghanistan for fear of crackdowns on journalists because the Taliban severely restricted press freedom the last time they were in power. 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban have said they will recognize media freedom. But Taliban fighters who were chasing a journalist from German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle shot dead a family member and seriously injured another, he reported on August 19.
Local television station ToloNews on Thursday reported that one of its reporters and cameraman were beaten the day before by Taliban fighters in Kabul while covering unemployed workers and workers in the capital.
Ziar Yaad, the reporter, said Taliban fighters came and took his cell phone and the photographer’s camera, according to the report.
“We showed our journalist badges but they came to slap us and beat us with their guns,” Yaad said in the report.
Many journalists concerned for their safety have already left Afghanistan.
According to Reporters Without Borders, an international media monitoring group, around 100 private local media outlets in Afghanistan have suspended their activities since the Taliban took control.
Speaking at a press conference on August 17, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group would ensure media activities within their cultural frameworks, adding that Islamic values should be taken into account in the coverage, according to a report by the Al Jazeera Information Network.
But the spokesperson was not clear about women working in the media when responding to a question from a reporter. During their old regime, the Islamist group restricted women’s rights to education and employment.
Since the Taliban took power, female presenters have almost disappeared from television programs.
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