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Dhaka Tribune

Taliban take 2 female TV anchors off air in Afghanistan, assault journalists

Taliban militants are reportedly hunting down journalists despite their promise for peace

Update : 20 Aug 2021, 01:34 PM

The Taliban have reportedly barred at least two female journalists from working at the public broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan and attacked at least two members of the press while they were covering a protest in the eastern Nangarhar province.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement in this regard on Thursday, condemning the move and demanding media freedom in Afghanistan.

“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 statement read.

“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,” he added.

A Taliban official entered Radio Television Afghanistan’s station on August 15, replacing the network’s anchor Khadija Amin, CPJ said citing news reports and the anchor herself.

Amin was reportedly told to “stay at home for a few more days” when she returned to the station.

Also Read- Taliban kill relative of DW journalist in Afghanistan

Taliban members also reportedly 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”.

Male employees were permitted entry into the station but Dawran was denied, according to media reports and Darwan herself.

On August 17, a Taliban-appointed newscaster took her place and relayed statements from the group’s leadership, according to the same reports.

Two assaulted, another’s family member shot dead

Meanwhile, Taliban militants on August 18 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 were covering 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.

According to CPJ, 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 at around 10pm.

Amirzada and Naeemi said Taliban fighters had shoved them both to the ground, hit 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.

Also Read- Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn secure Afghan users' accounts amid Taliban takeover

In another incident, Taliban fighters who were on the hunt for a German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) journalist have shot dead one member of his family and seriously injured another. 

The Taliban were conducting a house-to-house search to try and find the journalist, who now works in Germany, reports DW.

According to the German broadcaster, other relatives of the journalists, who managed to escape, are now on the run.

The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban on Thursday is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves,” DW's Director General Peter Limbourg said in a statement. 

“It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!" he added.

There has been increasing fear of women being deprived of their rights and press freedom being curtailed since Taliban insurgents toppled the Afghan government and took power on August 15.

Despite the Taliban’s promise to ensure women’s rights and amnesty, militants have raided the homes of at least four media workers since taking over the country.

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