Washington, D.C., August 26, 2021– The Taliban must immediately cease using violence against journalists and allow them to cover the critical news from Afghanistan freely and without fear, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Yesterday at approximately 10:30 a.m., Taliban fighters assaulted Ziar Khan Yaad, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster TOLO News, hitting him on his back and waist with their rifles and slapping and punching him in the face as he interviewed day laborers in the Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood in Kabul, according to Yaad’s employer, news reports, and Yaad, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app. When Yaad identified himself as a journalist, the Taliban continued to beat and insult him, Yaad said. He told CPJ he was left with back pain but did not seek medical treatment.
“The Taliban’s credibility is on the line as its fighters attacked TOLO News reporter Zian Khan Yaad and other journalists in flagrant violation of earlier public commitments to allow Afghanistan’s independent media to continue to operate freely,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Now, as ever, the people of Afghanistan need access to news and the Taliban must learn to respect the basic rights of journalists to freely report it.”
The fighters confiscated the phones, camera, microphones, and personal belongings of Yaad and Baes Maji, a camera operator who accompanied him, according to those sources. Yaad told CPJ that as of today, the Taliban have not yet returned those items.
In a separate incident on August 18, a Taliban fighter beat Ahmad Navid Kavosh, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster Khurshid TV, with a whip on his neck, shoulders, waist, thighs, and feet while he was interviewing another Taliban fighter outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, according to Kavosh, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, and a statement on Facebook by the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.
Another Taliban fighter then aimed a gun at Kavosh’s chest, threatened to jail him and break his camera, and ordered him to leave the area, which he did, he said. CPJ reviewed photos of his injuries, including red welts on his body. He said he went to the hospital, where he was prescribed painkillers.
CPJ contacted Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, via messaging app but did not receive any response. CPJ also contacted Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson in Afghanistan, via messaging app, but the message was not delivered to Mujahid’s phone. CPJ was unable to locate other contact information for Mujahid.
On August 18, Taliban fighters also beat Babrak Amirzada, a video reporter with the privately owned news agency Pajhwok Afghan News, and Mahmood Naeemi, a camera operator with the privately owned news and entertainment broadcaster Ariana News, while they covered a protest in the city of Jalalabad, in eastern Nangarhar province, as CPJ documented.