Navigation

Related Articles

Back to Latest Articles

Taliban’s return ‘a catastrophe’ for journalism in Afghanistan


Sentiman io
Taliban’s return ‘a catastrophe’ for...

About this content

Kim Willsher

Last modified on Tue 14 Sep 2021 21.04 BST

Journalism in Afghanistan is in danger of disappearing, according to the head of the International Federation of Journalists, who said that reporters trying to continue working under the Taliban have been subjected to beatings and imprisonment.

“The Taliban don’t want to make too many waves right now, but they will want to take control of everything, including the foreign press in Afghanistan,” Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ secretary general, told the Guardian. “And as often happens in such situations, foreign journalists will be considered agents of foreign governments.

“I believe what we will see emerge is an official media – a Taliban media – and no women. All other journalists will just disappear. It wasn’t easy before – and even before the Taliban took power, journalists were killed – but it is very bleak now.

Bellanger believes there is currently a “grace” period before the Taliban cracks down on international and Afghan journalists.

“It’s a question of weeks before it changes. I am pessimistic – I will be glad to be proved wrong, but the Taliban is still the Taliban. They announced an inclusive government and what did we get – no women. It’s a catastrophe.”

IFJ representatives are in close contact with colleagues in Afghanistan and believe about 1,300 journalists remain in the country, of which about 220 are women, most of them in Kabul. The IFJ is affiliated with Afghanistan’s National Journalists’ Union and the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association.

Female reporters try to question the Taliban’s Zabihullah Mujahid at a press conference in Kabul just after the Islamists’ takeover
Female reporters try to question the Taliban’s Zabihullah Mujahid, centre, in Kabul just after the Islamists’ takeover. ‘It is now completely impossible for female journalists to work,’ said the IFJ’s Anthony Bellanger. Photograph: Hoshang Hashimi/AFP/Getty

“It is now completely impossible for female journalists to work. The rest are doing a very difficult job and are doing what they can. We have photographs of journalists who have been imprisoned and beaten, so the situation for them is very difficult and dangerous,” he said.

The United Nations human rights body, the UN high commissioner for human rights, warned last week of a ‘growing resort by the Taliban to force against those involved in or reporting on’ demonstrations.

The IFJ, representing 600,000 journalists worldwide, said it was still trying to evacuate journalists from Kabul.

But Bellanger said: “It’s not about getting all journalists out. We cannot do that and we wouldn’t want to, because if nobody is reporting on what is happening then it happens in the dark. There will be journalists who want to stay and do their job, but the future is black for them.”

Bellanger said the IFJ had already collected €40,000 (£35,000) in donations from affiliated media unions, many of them in the UK, to help Afghan colleagues.

“We raised this in just three weeks, so I would like to thank people for their generosity. There has been a unique wave of solidarity on this. We are continuing the international campaign for donations.

“The most pressing problem is how to help our colleagues there. Some have lost their homes, others their jobs. Some have been injured and most of the doctors have left. Most people in the higher, professional echelons of society have left the country.

“On Monday we will begin sending money to journalists in Kabul who need it. Every euro will be accounted for and we will be verifying that it is going to journalists and their families.

“Now we are asking governments to offer a new humanitarian visa for journalists whose lives are in danger and who need to leave.”

He said Afghan journalists had already been evacuated to Qatar, North Macedonia, France, the UK, Canada, the US, Australia and Belgium, but some countries, including Greece and the Netherlands, had not issued emergency visas.

Violent attacks on Afghan journalists by Taliban prompt growing alarm

Read more

“My worry is that in a few days, a few weeks, the news agenda will have moved on and the media will forget Afghanistan,” Bellanger said. “For the journalists who remain, I fear they will find either they can choose not to do journalism – or to do journalism for the Taliban.”

He added: “It is stupid and naive to think we can talk to the Taliban about this. There are journalists who want to stay because their life is in Afghanistan.

“We will try to take out those in great danger and those who have already had death threats, but we want to leave as many as possible on the ground so we can have information. It’s these kind of moments when people realise how much we need journalists.”

Topics

  • Press freedom
  • Rights and freedom
  • Afghanistan
  • South and Central Asia
  • Journalist safety
  • Newspapers
  • Newspapers & magazines
  • news
Reuse this content

,

Head of International Federation of Journalists says ‘future is black’ for 1,300 journalists still in country

Journalism in Afghanistan is in danger of disappearing, according to the head of the International Federation of Journalists, who said that reporters trying to continue working under the Taliban have been subjected to beatings and imprisonment.

“The Taliban don’t want to make too many waves right now, but they will want to take control of everything, including the foreign press in Afghanistan,” Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ secretary general, told the Guardian. “And as often happens in such situations, foreign journalists will be considered agents of foreign governments.

Continue reading…

,,

Related Articles

Coronavirus live news: France reports 12,148 infections in 24 hours; WHO approves new rapid Covid test

Health body gives green light to second test that gives results in up to 30 minutes; Madrid is Europe’s worst hotspot Scramble under way in Washington to trace spread of Covid...

Posted on

Coronavirus lockdowns may be a waste of time because 50% of deaths are in care homes, Sweden’s top expert claims

INTRODUCING a lockdown in Sweden is pointless because half of deaths are in care homes, the country’s leading disease expert claims.  State epidemiologist Anders...

Posted on