7 August 2023
Members of the Taliban forcibly closed a privately-owned station in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province after it held a mixed-gender journalism training course. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the closure of the outlet and calls on the Taliban to cease its gendered harassment and censorship of Afghanistan’s media.
On the afternoon of July 31, approximately 10 to 15 Taliban members entered the Jalalabad offices of private broadcaster Radio Hamisha Bahar, allegedly to disrupt a journalism course attended by both men and women. According to employees, the intruders were offensive and disparaging toward course attendees and staff, before forcibly escorting those present out of the building. The outlet’s head, Atel Khan Stankzai, claimed that Taliban members also assaulted station staff during the incursion.
The following day, local Taliban ordered the outlet’s closure, accusing it of breaking protocols and bans enforced in December 2022. The station was home to two other radio broadcasters, Radio Nan and Radio Jawanan, which were also banned.
The Taliban’s interference with the training session and subsequent closure of Radio Hamisha Bahar has been condemned by press freedom advocates and journalist bodies. Local and Nangarhar state representatives have not commented on the closure.
The IFJ’s South Asia Press Freedom Report 2022-23 recorded a wide array of gendered harassment and oppression instituted by the Taliban since its ascension to power in August 2021. The period since has been marked by restrictive legislation, with mandates imposed in July that targeted the employment, public life and education for women in Afghanistan. A 2022 survey found over 80% of women working in the media radio sector had lost their jobswith and over half of Afghanistan’s provinces no longer have any women working in the media.
The IFJ said: “This is a clear example of the Taliban’s systematic assault on women in Afghanistan’s media. The IFJ strongly condemns the actions of the Taliban members responsible Tand urges Nangarhar state bodies to act to intervene and allow broadcasting to resume.” #