Watchdog: 30 recent cases of violence against Afghan journalists

The Afghanistan National Journalists Union says 90 percent of violence against journalists committed by the Taliban.

In this September 10, 2021 photo, Afghan journalists Neamatullah Naqdi, 28, left, and Taqi Daryabi, 22, pose for a portrait at Etilaat Roz newspaper's office after they were detained and beaten by Taliban forces while covering a women's protest in Kabul [File: Bernat Armangue/AP Photo]

More than 30 instances of violence and threats of violence against Afghan journalists were recorded in the last two months, with nearly 90 percent committed by the Taliban, says a media watchdog.

More than 40 percent of the cases recorded by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) were physical beatings and another 40 percent were verbal threats of violence, Masorro Lutfi, the group’s head, said on Wednesday.

The remainder involved cases in which journalists were imprisoned for a day. One journalist was killed.

Most of the cases in September and October were documented in provinces across Afghanistan outside the capital, Kabul, but six of the 30 cases of violence took place in the capital, ANJU said.

Lutfi, in a news conference on Wednesday, said while most of the instances of violence – or threats of violence – were perpetrated by Taliban members, three of the 30 cases were carried out by unknown people.

The report comes as Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers attempt to open diplomatic channels with an international community largely reluctant to formally recognise their rule. They are trying to position themselves as responsible rulers, who promise security for all.

Taliban deputy cultural and information minister and spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told The Associated Press news agency they are aware of the cases of violence towards journalists and are investigating in order to punish the perpetrators.

“The new transition and unprofessionalism of our friends caused it,” said Mujahid, promising the problem will be solved.

The ISIL (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for an attack by gunmen in early October in which journalist Sayed Maroof Sadat was killed in eastern Nangarhar province along with his cousin and two Taliban members.

Since the withdrawal of the US forces in late August, three journalists including Sadat have been killed in Afghanistan.

Alireza Ahmadi, a reporter of Raha News Agency, and Najma Sadeqi, an anchor at Jahan-e-Sehat TV channel, were killed in a suicide attack at Kabul airport during the evacuation.

Taliban officials have repeatedly urged the media to follow Islamic laws but without elaborating. Lutfi said his group is working on a bill with media outlets and Taliban officials to enable the media to continue their daily operations.

Afghanistan has long been dangerous for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in early September that 53 journalists have been killed in the country since 2001, including 33 since 2018.

In July, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer from Reuters news agency was killed while covering clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. In 2014, an Agence France-Presse news agency journalist, his wife and two children were among nine people killed by Taliban gunmen while dining at a hotel in Kabul.

Source: AP