More than 30 cases of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists were recorded in the last two months. Nearly 90% of the cases were carried out by the Taliban, the media monitoring organization, the Afghan National Journalists Union (ANJU), said Wednesday (27/10).
More than 40% of the cases involved beatings, while the other 40% involved threats of verbal violence, said Masorro Lutfi, head of the non-profit organization. The rest, cases where journalists were imprisoned for a day.
A journalist was killed.
Most cases in September and October occurred in Afghanistan’s provinces, outside the capital, Kabul. However, six of the 30 cases occurred in Kabul, according to ANJU.
In a press conference on Wednesday (27/10), Lutfi said, although most cases of violence – or threats of violence – were carried out by members of the Taliban, three out of 30 cases were carried out by unknown persons.
The report comes at the same time as the Taliban government’s efforts in Afghanistan to open diplomatic lines with the international community, which is largely reluctant to officially recognize the Taliban leadership. The group tries to position itself as a responsible ruler, who promises security for all the people.
The deputy minister of culture and information and a spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, told the Associated Press news agency that they are aware of cases of violence against journalists and are investigating in order to punish the perpetrators.
“The new transition and the unprofessionalism of our colleagues are the cause,” said Mujahid, who promised to solve the problem.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for a shooting in early October that killed journalist Sayed Maroof Sadat, his cousin, and two Taliban members, in the eastern province of Nangarhar.
Since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in late August, three journalists, including Sadat, have been killed in Afghanistan. Alireza Ahmadi, a reporter for Raha News Agency, and Najma Sadeqi, a news anchor for Jahan-e-Sehat TV were killed in a suicide bomb attack at Kabul airport during the evacuation process.
Taliban officials have repeatedly urged the mass media to abide by Islamic law, albeit without elaborating. Lutfi said his organization was drafting a law with several media and Taliban officials, to allow the media to operate normally.
Afghanistan has long been a danger to journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in early September that 53 journalists had lost their lives in the country since 2001, including 33 in 2018 alone.
Last July, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Reuters photographer was killed while covering clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. In 2014, the journalist Agence France-Presse (AFP), along with his wife and two children, were among nine people shot dead by the Taliban while having dinner at a hotel in Kabul. [rd/ka]