Arab News, March 29, 2022
Rights watchdog condemns Taliban for detaining journalists
Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence, Jawad Sargar, said that Atal was detained due to his “feministic viewpoints.”
LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the Taliban on Monday for detaining at least seven journalists, warning that the group “must cease detaining journalists for their work and lift all bans on news outlets’ operations.”
Since Saturday, the Taliban detained and subsequently released at least seven journalists and media workers, and have ordered local outlets to stop airing content from three international broadcasters.
“The Taliban must immediately release all the journalists who remain in their custody, and stop detaining members of the press once and for all,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator in Washington, D.C.
“Such arbitrary detentions and recent bans on programming by several major international outlets are destroying the once-thriving media sector of the country and depriving the Afghan people of access to essential information.”
On Saturday, two Afghan journalists were detained, interrogated for hours and released without charge. The first, Mirawais Atal, director of the dependent local broadcaster Zema Radio, was detained after his home was raided by Taliban militants.
The deputy director for media and public affairs at the Taliban’s General Directorate of Intelligence, Jawad Sargar, said that Atal was detained due to his “feministic viewpoints.”
Before his arrest, Atal had published a post on his personal Facebook page praising local protests by female students against Taliban orders to close girls’ schools.
Atal was released from custody on Monday evening.
Similarly, Sarwar Hashemi, a journalist with the independent local broadcaster Salam Watandar, was detained by Taliban members while covering a protest against the school closures. He was later released after questioning.
Meanwhile, Sargar ordered all major local broadcasters to cease airing music and live entertainment shows, as well as any programming that he claimed was against national and Islamic values.
Sargar reportedly gave broadcasters a two-hour deadline to comply.
On Monday, Taliban members raided the Kandahar-based independent radio station Millat Zhagh, detaining news manager Farid Alizai, producer Rahimullah Noori and technical chief Mahmood Mehraban. The Taliban also shut down the outlet and sealed its office.
The three were charged with failing to abide by Sargar’s ultimatum.
Meanwhile, Taliban authorities on Sunday prohibited local broadcasters from airing Pashto, Persian and Uzbek programming from BBC, Voice of America and Deutsche Welle.
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