Journalist crackdowns contradict Taliban pledge of restraint – 08/19/2021 – world

Reports of assaults, refusals to work as a woman and home invasions by journalists in recent days have been found to contradict Taliban guarantees of press freedom and women’s rights. after the takeover in Afghanistan.

One such case is that of Shabnam Dawran, who said in a video posted to social media that he was prevented from working at the Afghan public television station RTA, where he had worked for six years. She said she was denied access to the newsroom, while her male colleagues maintained their usual routine.

“I did not give up after the regime change and went to the office and unfortunately I was not allowed in,” said the news anchor, wearing a hijab – a veil that covers her hair but leaves his face exposed. “Those who listen to me, if the world listens to me, help us, because our lives are in danger.”

His network colleague Sahar Nasari, also a presenter, wrote on Facebook on Thursday (19) that the Taliban took his camera and assaulted a colleague while recording a report in Kabul. “It was clear that there is a gap between action and words.”

The words came from the spokesperson for the Islamic fundamentalist group, Zabihullah Mujahid, during the first press conference after the takeover on Tuesday (17). Freedom of the press and the protection of women’s rights – within the “framework of Islam” – would be guaranteed, in an attempt at moderation.

During its five years in power, between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban made women a prime target in the brutal crackdown that Islamic fundamentalists carried out on the basis of an extremist reading of the Koran.

Promises of further liberalization, however, contrasted with reports by several media observers of Afghan journalists being assaulted, harassed or raided in recent days, in addition to those made by RTA presenters.

The Coalition for Women in Journalism said it has received numerous appeals for help from women journalists in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power. The organization said it is in contact with several women who say they feel threatened in their homes.

An editor-in-chief of the Pjhwok news agency in Kabul told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that an extremist group official recommended that the 18 reporters work from home until the rules on attendance. women at work are excluded.

A reporter from the state agency Bakhtar also told Reuters he was nearly paralyzed when an armed Taliban entered the newsroom on Thursday. He walked over to the editorial office, who then told reporters that the site needed a new look and how the stories were told would soon be discussed.

“The Taliban must live up to their public commitment to allow a free and independent press at a time when the Afghan people desperately need reliable information and news,” said Steven Butler of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Even those who have not been persecuted are suspicious of the Taliban promise. Saad Mohseni, who heads media group Moby, owner of Tolo, the main private news broadcaster, said the journalists were not injured and the women journalists continued to work. There was even something unthinkable during the extremist group’s previous period of power: an interview of a Taliban official with a presenter.

For Mohseni, on the other hand, the future is still uncertain. “The attitude of letting this happen reflects more of not having enough restrictions than a specific policy allowing the press to do its usual job,” he said. “So I wouldn’t get too carried away. It’s only been 72 hours since they took control of the city.

As media professionals are targeted around the world, especially in times of social upheaval, the issue is even more sensitive in Afghanistan, where media freedom and expression and women’s rights are taken for granted. after two decades of war and Western presence.

Since the Taliban were ousted from power by the United States in 2001, the country’s press scene has shifted from a single state-owned radio station that mainly broadcast calls to prayer and religious teachings to some 170 radio stations, over 100 newspapers and dozens of TV channels.

So, some journalists fear that restrictions and censorship hit this burgeoning scene in the country. There are already reports of changes made by residents, such as TV stations cutting Western music, programming and entertainment.

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