CPJ condemns threats by Taliban against Afghan media

New York, October 13, 2015–A Taliban website on Monday threatened journalists associated with two privately owned Afghan TV outlets, Tolo TV and 1TV, with “elimination,” according to news reports.

According to the statement by the military commission of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which the Taliban calls itself, the group was designating Tolo TV and 1TV as “military objectives due to their disrespectful and hostile actions toward the Afghan Mujahid nation.” Journalists affiliated with the outlets would be considered enemy personnel and all of the outlets’ centers, offices, and dispatched teams will be considered military objectives, “which will be directly eliminated,” the statement said.

The statement said Tolo TV and 1TV aired false news and propaganda aimed to “ridicule religious and cultural norms” and “inject the minds of youth with … irreligiousness, immorality, violence.” The commission also posted on Facebook a video statement that showed the pictures of many of the broadcasters’ staff members, according to Tolo TV. The Facebook post has since been removed.

The statement said the move was in response to broadcasters’ coverage of the city of Kunduz, which the Taliban invaded in late September. The stations reported that Taliban fighters had allegedly raped women at a hostel during the early stages of the militants’ invasion of the city in September. The Taliban denied the claim, saying the stories were an “example of propaganda by these satanic networks.”

Tolo TV and 1TV are both privately owned and have often been critical of the Taliban. Tolo TV is one of the largest broadcasters in the country.

“Now more than ever, Afghanistan needs its journalists to play a mature role in reporting on all sides of the conflict,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We condemn these threats against Tolo TV and 1TV and call on Afghan authorities to do their utmost to ensure the safety of all journalists and news outlets.”

On Tuesday, Tolo TV issued a press release calling on the Afghan government to extend support to the local press and make security a priority.

“We cannot allow this threat to set our agenda for coverage in Kunduz or anywhere else,” Lotfullah Najafizada, head of current affairs for Tolo News, told CPJ Tuesday morning. “Our coverage will remain unchanged.”