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Freedom of expression was one of the main achievements of people of Afghanistan as well as international community that unfortunately it took hundreds of victims to propagate and empower. Lots of our colleagues martyred by Taliban in past several years because of it.
Taliban once again took power back in mid-August 2021, and started their enmity with media by torturing, arresting and censorship and threatening of journalists and activists.
Within a year of Taliban’s rule, hundreds of journalists have been arrested, threatened and even imprisoned by the Taliban intelligence and ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice.
More than 250 media outlets ceased their broadcast because of Taliban’s censorship, and 90% of female journalists lost their jobs except for a number of them that appear on TV wearing mask and forced hijab.
Reporters Without Borders in its latest report on “World Press Freedom Day” regarding the freedom of media all across the globe said that Afghanistan has been dropped from 122 to 156 on its press freedom index.
Lack of internal policy and access to information:
Unfortunately, after the Taliban domination all internal laws including the Afghanistan constitution, the media law, the law of access to information, bills and guidelines have been cancelled, and there is no legal and moral framework for producing and broadcasting of programs. So, all free media outlets are producing and broadcasting the programs at the Taliban satisfaction. Even commercial ads are being broadcast after the verification of Taliban’s intelligence.
In some cases the Taliban summon the directors of media, and take written promises. Two of my former colleagues who were the directors of internal media said so.
The journalists have to cooperate with the Taliban intelligence in order to invite the guests, prepare reports. Otherwise, after the broadcast of the program and criticizing of Taliban, the intelligence forces will threaten, torture or arrest them, as an example we can name Faizullah Jalal and Baqir Mohsini.
Despite restricting the media as TV, radio and newspaper, Taliban even imposed restrictions on social media. Recently, they arrested, tortured and forcibly took the confession of Ajmal Haqiqi and his colleagues and then put them into prison, yet their situation is unknown.
Struggle to survive or to banish from country:
Lots of journalists and directors of media are trying to leave the country to survive due to Taliban’s arbitrary arrests, attack and threat.
According to the report of Reporters Without Border from 11857 journalists and media workers, just 4759 of them are doing their jobs, others either have lost their job or are in exile. The report added that from four professional journalists three of them have lost their jobs.
After the collapse of the republic, more than 250 thousand journalists and activists have left the country and went to neighboring countries, unfortunately a lot of them are living in a despicable situation and no institution has helped them.
What should we do?
Internal media must be seriously supported in order to keep the people of Afghanistan on media and the world does not forget them.
Only internal journalists can document the incidents and publicize them, otherwise from remote areas and sending foreign journalists for few days, it is not in the realm of possibility to understand what is going on in Afghanistan?
If the world and international community want to support the freedom of expression, they must prioritize supporting internal media and forcing the Taliban so that the journalists can document the stories of people.