Taliban fighters are seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 2, 2022. Taliban members recently raided the broadcaster Tamadon TV. (Reuters/Ali Khara)

Taliban raids office of Tamadon TV, assaults staff in Afghanistan

New York, February 15, 2022 – The Taliban must allow Tamadon TV to operate freely and independently and end its campaign of harassment and violence against journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, February 14, about 10 armed Taliban members raided the headquarters of the privately owned broadcaster in Kabul, beat several staff members, and held them for 30 minutes, according to news reports and a journalist familiar with the case who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal.

That journalist said they did not know what led to the raid. Tamadon TV is predominantly owned and operated by members of the Hazara ethnic minority, and covers political and current affairs as well as Shiite religious programming. Hazara people have faced persecution and escalated violence since the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021.

“The Taliban’s raid of Tamadon TV and attacks on its employees show the group’s failure to abide by its professed commitment to freedom of expression in Afghanistan,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Access to information in Afghanistan is critical. The Taliban must stop harassing journalists and stifling the work of the free press.”

While entering the broadcaster’s premises, Taliban members beat a security guard, two journalists, and two media workers, the journalist who spoke to CPJ said.

The Taliban members then pointed guns the station’s staff members, confiscated their mobile phones, and transferred them to a meeting room, where they were held for 30 minutes while Taliban members verbally harassed them, referring to one as an “infidel Hazara journalist,” according to that journalist.

Taliban members roamed around the headquarters, but it was not clear if they conducted any additional searches, and then confiscated two of the broadcaster’s vehicles when they left the scene.

CPJ contacted Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid for comment via messaging app but did not receive any response.

In August 2022, CPJ published a special report about the media crisis in Afghanistan, showing a rapid deterioration in press freedom since the Taliban retook control of the country, marked by censorship, arrests, assaults, and restrictions on women journalists.