New York, August 18, 2022 – Taliban authorities must investigate the beating and harassment of journalist Saboor Raufi and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
On Monday, August 15, two armed Taliban members beat Raufi, an anchor and reporter with Afghanistan’s independent Ariana News TV station, while he was recording the aftermath of an explosion in front of Ariana’s headquarters in the Bayat Media Center in the capital of Kabul, according to media reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ by phone.
The men confiscated the mobile phone Raufi was using to film the incident and one of the men slapped him in the face, causing his mouth to bleed. Raufi told CPJ that he had identified himself as a journalist and shown his press ID card when one of the men beat him for several minutes with a rifle, on his head, shoulder, back, and legs.
The beating continued until a Taliban commander in the area to investigate the explosion ordered the men to take Raufi to a hospital for medical treatment. Raufi said the beating has left him with two scars on his head, an injured right shoulder, limited mobility in his right hand, and injuries to his back and knee that have made him barely able to walk.
“The brutal attack on Afghan journalist Saboor Raufi, and the threats against him for talking about the attack, highlight the dangers faced by Afghan journalists in the year since the Taliban took back control of the country,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martinez de la Serna. “Taliban leaders must investigate this attack, hold its perpetrators responsible, and keep its promise to respect press freedom.”
Raufi told CPJ that on the night of the beating, after he had responded to other journalists’ questions about the incident, he received a call from an unknown number. The caller warned him that he and his family’s lives would be in danger if he didn’t stop talking to the media about the beating and accused him of being a “disrespectful Pashtun who propagates against the Pashtun government.” Rafui replied that he is a journalist and had reported the Taliban aggression against him in that capacity.
Raufi, who has worked for 13 years as a presenter, news anchor, and reporter for Ariana News and Ariana Television Network, says he fears for his life and hasn’t been able to return to his job.
CPJ contacted Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, for comment via messaging app but did not receive any response.
CPJ’s reporting on Afghanistan’s media crisis has documented the pressure placed on journalists and news outlets like Ariana since the Taliban takeover in August 2021.