August 19, 2021, Washington, D.C. — The Taliban must immediately cease harassing and attacking journalists for their work, allow women journalists to broadcast the news, and permit the media to operate freely and independently, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Since August 15, members of the Taliban have barred at least two female journalists from their jobs at the public broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan, and have attacked at least two members of the press while they covered a protest in the eastern Nangarhar province, according to news reports and journalists who spoke with CPJ.
“Stripping public media of prominent women news presenters is an ominous sign that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers have no intention of living up their promise of respecting women’s rights, in the media or elsewhere,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The Taliban should let women news anchors return to work, and allow all journalists to work safely and without interference.”
On August 15, the day the Taliban entered Kabul, members of the group arrived at Radio Television Afghanistan’s station and a male Taliban official took the place of Khadija Amin, an anchor with the network, according to news reports and Amin, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.
When Amin returned to the station yesterday, a Taliban member who took over leadership of the station told her to “stay at home for a few more days,” and said the group would inform her when she can return to work, she said.
Taliban members also denied Shabnam Dawran, a news presenter with Radio Television Afghanistan, entry to the outlet, saying that “the regime has changed” and she should “go home,” according to news reports and Dawran, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Male employees were permitted entry into the station, but she was denied, according to those sources. On August 17, a Taliban-appointed newscaster took her place and relayed statements from the group’s leadership, according to those reports.
Separately, Taliban militants yesterday 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, according to news reports and both journalists, who spoke with CPJ via phone and messaging app.
At about 10 a.m., a group of Taliban militants arrived at a demonstration of people gathering in support of the Afghan national flag, which Amirzada and Naeemi were covering, and beat up protesters and fired gunshots into the air to disperse the crowd, the journalists told CPJ.
Amirzada and Naeemi said that Taliban fighters shoved them both to the ground, beat Amirzada on his head, hands, chest, feet, and legs, and hit Naeemi on his legs and feet with the bottoms of their rifles. CPJ could not immediately determine the extent of the journalists’ injuries.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment via messaging app.
CPJ is also investigating a report today by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle that Taliban militants searched the home of one of the outlet’s editors in western Afghanistan, shot and killed one of their family members, and seriously injured another. The militants were searching for the journalist, who has escaped to Germany, according to that report.
Taliban militants have also raided the homes of at least four media workers since taking power in the country earlier this week, according to CPJ reporting.