Independent media hits a dead-end in Afghanistan: 153 media outlets ceased operation since Taliban’s takeover

Independent journalists in Afghanistan will “just disappear”, warned the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global trade union of media workers, as over 153 media outlets ceased their operations since the Taliban take over in the country last month, and the prospect of an independent media looks “bleak”

Sep 19, 2021
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Independent media hits a dead-end in Afghanistan

Independent journalists in Afghanistan will “just disappear”, warned the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a global trade union of media workers, as over 153 media outlets ceased their operations since the Taliban take over in the country last month, and the prospect of an independent media looks “bleak”. 

“The situation in Afghanistan is growing increasingly dire for all media workers, with many journalists displaced due to the Taliban offensive, in hiding and without work,” the IFJ, a media body which claims to represent over 600,000 media workers worldwide, said in a statement on Friday. 

Over 7000 journalists and media workers are affected by the Taliban’s takeover, the statement said, adding many journalists and their families are feeling threatened by the Taliban fighters and thousands of criminals released from Afghan jails. 

“Reports are escalating of Taliban militants detaining journalists, seizing their equipment, and even subjecting individuals to torture or beatings,” the statement said. 

Anthony Bellanger, who is general secretary of the ISJ, said “we will see emerge is an official media – a Taliban media – and no women. All other journalists will just disappear,” adding further, “It wasn’t easy before – and even before the Taliban took power, journalists were killed – but it is very bleak now.” 

Almost ten days back, when large-scale protests by women and others erupted in cities in Afghanistan, the Taliban fighters detained and tortured several journalists who were covering those protests. 

“The Taliban are pretending to be tolerant in order to be recognized internationally, but there are countless examples of massive attacks," Ahmad Wahid Payman, an Afghan journalist who escaped to Germany recently, said. Bellenger also said attacks will intensify against journalists in the coming weeks. 

Radio may no larger a popular source of news in many parts of the world but in Afghanistan, especially in rural parts, it was a popular medium. Many young journalists, mostly women, worked in these radio stations. However, with the Taliban’s return, they disappeared from the scene. 

On 10 September, the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement, calling on the Taliban to “cease the use of force towards, and the arbitrary detention of, those exercising their right to peaceful assembly and the journalists covering the protests.”

Etilaatroz, one of the most credible newspapers of Afghanistan, known for its credible investigative journalism, stopped their print version. Five of its journalists were recently detained and tortured brutally. 

After 2001, the rise of independent and critical media was one of the most significant gains of the last two decades. Now, these gains are just evaporating at the same pace the Taliban stormed into Kabul. 

(SAM)