Geneva: Press Emblem Campaign, the global media safety and rights body, expressed concern over the arrest of three Afghan journalists by the Taliban forces in the south Asian country and demanded the authorities to stop persecuting the scribes. Local media outlets reported that two reporters from Radio Television Afghanistan (Safiullah Wafa and Noor Agha) and a scribe from TV Tanwir (Ghulam Ali Wahdat) were picked up by the intelligence agencies from Pule-e-Khumri locality in Baghlan province on 5 April.
According to Afghanistan Journalists Center, over 236 cases of media freedom violations were documented in the last 12 months. Days back, a deadly terror attack at Tebyan Cultural Center during a journalists’ meeting killed two media persons and injured 30 others. Over one thousand journalists have fled Afghanistan since the Taliban regime grabbed power in Kabul after the fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government on 15 August 2021. PEC had earlier called upon the United Nations and the international community to take note of the growing security threats to professional journalists there.
“The Taliban regime must respect the press freedom and ensure the safety of working journalists. A few days back, Afghanistan’s only women-run radio station Sadai Banowan was shut down by the Taliban regime for playing music during the month of Ramadan. However, it has now resumed its operation,” said Blaise Lempen, president of PEC.
Sadai Banowan (literally meaning women’s voices) was launched a decade back in Dari locality of Badakhshan province. The local Taliban authority asserted that the radio station violated laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate by broadcasting songs and music during Ramadan and hence it was shuttered. Later the authority informed that the radio station management agreed to obey all rules and regulations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (read avoiding broadcast of any musical items) and assured that it would not repeat the mistake. So the station was allowed to resume activities on 6 April, reported media outlets quoting responsible Taliban leaders.
Speaking to Nava Thakuria, PEC’s south & southeast Asia representative, an Afghan scribe revealed that the media fraternity has already lost most of their female members as the regime maintains harsh policies towards them. He also added that over 200 newspapers, television channels and radio stations have been closed down since the Taliban came to power after a coup.