On Wednesday, two journalists from a Kabul-based media outlet were picked up by the Taliban at a protests in Kabul and detained for hours at a police station where they endured beatings.
As women in Kabul protest demanding an end to the Taliban’s violations of their rights, two Afghan journalists were severely beaten by the group’s fighters, igniting another international concern: freedom of press.
Several distressing pictures of two Afghan journalists with torture marks, welts and bruises spread on social media on Wednesday.
Journalists Taqi Daryabi and Nemat Naqdi from the Kabul-based media outlet Ethylthrosis were picked up at the demonstration and taken to a police station in the capital, where they said they were detained for hours, punched, kicked and beaten with batons, electrical cables and whips for covering the protest.
— Zaki Daryabi (@ZDaryabi) September 8, 2021
Even as the Taliban promised to protect human rights and guarantee freedom of press as it formed a new government on Tuesday, the media outlet asks: why were they tortured for doing their job?
“No action has been taken against this act of violence. Why were we treated this way and beaten so brutally for doing our job?” Etilaatroz reporter, Aber Shaygan, told TRT World.
He said his colleagues were not able to walk after they were released from detention.
“When I saw them they were in a bad state. At least 10 people have beaten them, with kicks and slaps and cables. They fainted so many times during their detention.”
Human Rights Watch released a statement on Wednesday calling the armed group to halt the assaults against journalists, drop the restrictions, and ensure that Taliban members responsible for abuses are appropriately punished.
The Taliban have previously promised to uphold press freedoms in line with Islamic principles that have not been unspecified.
But journalists are reportedly being harassed, beaten or prevented from covering protests since the group took control of the country on August 15 after fighting a 20-year insurgency against foreign and Afghan forces.
A Tolonews photojournalist, Wahid Ahmadi, was also detained on September 7, and released the same day but his camera was confiscated.
On Wednesday night, the Taliban declared protests and demonstrations were illegal unless permission had been granted by the justice ministry.
— Zaki Daryabi (@ZDaryabi) September 9, 2021
Last month, videos obtained and verified by TRT World showed Taliban fighters kicking and whipping anti-Taliban protesters as well as local Afghan journalists in eastern Khost and Kunar provinces.
It is Afghan journalists who are the most vulnerable to such attacks on press freedom, and not foreign journalists.
Babrak Amirzada, a journalist for Pajhwok news agency, at the time told TRT World that he was beaten by Taliban fighters along with his colleague, and his camera was confiscated.
“Taliban authorities claimed that they would allow the media to function so long as they ‘respected Islamic values,’ but they are increasingly preventing journalists from reporting on demonstrations,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch said.
“The Taliban need to ensure that all journalists are able to carry out their work without abusive restrictions or fear of retribution.”
Zaki Daryabi, chief of the newspaper Etilaatroz, say how the Taliban treat journalists and protesters determines if the group can be trusted with their assurances or not.
“If they [the Taliban] want to stand by their word that they support press freedom, they must make sure those abusers and torturers pay for what they did to our journalists,” he said, adding that the group’s assurances to having freedom of press rang hollow compared to the reality on ground.
“If not, it is highly likely that they will allow for such things to happen to journalists again.”
Source: TRT World