Afghan Media Say Taliban are Jailing, Attacking News Crews During Kabul Protests

  • Date of Publication : 10/09/2021 at 11:08 GMT

The Taliban have detained, beaten and threatened several journalists covering protests in Kabul and other districts in Afghanistan, and told some news crews that they need permission to film.

More than 14 reporters and photographers were detained over two days this week while covering demonstrations for women’s rights and protests against Pakistan, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA).

Journalists, including TOLOnews video operator Wahid Ahmadi, were detained on Tuesday, and a BBC news crew was ordered to stop filming.  TOLOnews said on Twitter that Ahmadi had been held for three hours.

The following day, journalists, including two from the local newspaper Etilaatroz, were arrested while covering a women’s rights rally in Kabul.

Zaki Daryabi, editor in chief of Etilaatroz, shared images on social media of two of his reporters, who had deep red welts across their bodies and legs and bruised faces.

He cited accounts by his photographer Nematullah Naqdi, who described how a member of the Taliban crushed his face on the ground with his foot and kicked Naqdi in the head. “I thought they were going to kill me,” the photographer was quoted as saying.

Daryabi said that members of the Taliban detained five of his staff for over four hours and beat two of them.

One of the reporters, Taqi Daryabi, said he was beaten by several people.

“They would raise sticks and beat us with all of their strength. After they beat us, they saw that we had passed out. They took us to lock us up in a cell with a few others,” he told Reuters.

In Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, video footage appeared to show armed Taliban militants trying to block a group of people, believed to be journalists, who were carrying cameras at a demonstration for women’s rights.

In the video, one gunman looks at papers presented by the men, who are carrying cameras, and another tries to stop the group, pushing one of them and saying “Go.” One of the gunmen is loading his weapon and threatening the group.

VOA could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.

At their first news conference in Kabul last month, the Taliban said media would be free to report provided they work according to “Islamic principles,” and are fair and serve “national interests.”

Reuters cited an unnamed Taliban minister as saying recent reports of attacks on the media would be investigated.

Media rights groups, including the AIJA and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), have condemned the treatment of news crews.

The arrests and violence “fundamentally contravenes the Taliban’s renewed promises of a free, independent and private media,” the IFJ said in a statement.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which also reported at least 14 journalists briefly detained in Kabul, said journalists had also been beaten or threatened and had equipment seized.

“The Taliban is quickly proving that earlier promises to allow Afghanistan’s independent media to continue operating freely and safely are worthless,” said Steven Butler, CPJ Asia program head, in a statement.

Outside the capital, on September 1, the Taliban detained about a dozen journalists on the Afghan side of the country’s border with Pakistan and held them overnight.

Five Pakistani journalists, from Peshawar and Karachi, and three Germans were among those detained and taken to the Afghan city of Jalalabad.