Afghanistan: More journalist incarcerations as Taliban marks two years in power16 Aug, 2023
Attaullah Omar, a reporter with TOLO News; Waheedur Rahman Afghanmal, a reporter with Daily Etilat-e Roz and Alive-in Afghanistan, andShamsullah Omari, a freelance journalist were separately arrested in Kandahar province on August 14. The three arrests followed a spate of detentions of journalists across the country – totalling 12 arrests in just two weeks – all leading up to the second anniversary of the Taliban’s accession to power on August 15.
Reports on the arrests said that Taliban agents summoned Attaullah Omar to the intelligence service’s provincial headquarters in Kandahar where was allegedly accused of working with Afghan media operating from outside the country. In a separate incident, Waheedur Rahman Afghanmal was picked up outside Kandahar Press Club, and questioned about his work and if he worked for exiled media groups, according to the Afghan Media Centre. He was released on bail the next night.
IFJ affiliate the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) confirmed the arrests of the three journalists and said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahed had advised the arrests were unrelated to media activities. But a RASC news agency report has detailed reports from different parts of the country that indicate that the Taliban has imposed restrictions on the publication of news material and has prohibited journalists from covering the news that is against it.
Earlier in August Habibullah Sarab, an independent reporter for Ariana TV in Paktia; Jan Agha Salah, and Faquir Mohammad Faqirzai, reporters from Kilid Radio in Nangarhar; and Haseeb Hasas, from Radio Salam Watandar were detained by the Taliban.
Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFERL) reported on August 14 that the Taliban Information & Culture Ministry in Southern Helmand ordered local radio stations to stop broadcasting women’s voices, even in advertisements. “All the radio stations in Helmand have been warned that if they broadcast the voice of a woman, they will be shut, and their owners will be punished,” it reported.
Since the fall of Kabul on August 15, 2021, 19 journalists and media workers have been killed; 21 injured; 91 arrested, 38 assaulted and 48 harassed, according to a report by IFJ affiliate, ANJU.
The IFJ’s other affiliate in the country, the Afghanistan Independent Journalist Union (AIJU), said of the 600 media outlets that once operated in Afghanistan, only 213 remained. At least 8,000 jobs have been lost from the industry which once employed any as 12,000 media workers, including 2,833 women. It estimated that around 2,500 journalists and media workers were living in exile.
The IFJ said:“The Taliban campaign of arrests and detentions of journalists is a concerted and continuing effort to intimidate journalists from doing independent reporting from Afghanistan and to stifle the public’s right to know. The IFJ calls for the immediate release of all journalists impresses on the Taliban to stop trying to muzzle journalists’ voices.”