Bulent Kilic/AFP by way of Getty Images
ISLAMABAD — The nightmares come straightforward and infrequently for Afghan journalist Taqi Daryabi.
When they do, the 22-year-old reporter for the Afghan newspaper Etilaatroz is immediately transported again to a dank room in a Taliban-run police station, the place a bunch of former fighters brutally beat him and his colleague Nematullah Naqdi final month for overlaying a ladies’s protest in Kabul.
“All of them started beating me with whatever they had in their hands — with whips, batons, with rubber, with wood,” says Daryabi, who remains to be out and in of the hospital for therapy of his lacerations. “With whatever torturing tool they had, they beat me until I passed out.”
Naqdi, his colleague, has partially misplaced his imaginative and prescient from the beating he endured that day.
About 500 miles away, within the western metropolis of Herat, it isn’t the previous that haunts 26-year-old journalist Atefa. It’s the worry of the long run.
Atefa, who desires to make use of solely her first title to guard her security, used to put in writing critically concerning the Taliban’s attitudes and therapy of ladies for varied Afghan information retailers. Now she’s in hiding.
Ever for the reason that group recaptured Herat in mid-August, her neighbors have been telling her the Taliban have been on the lookout for her. In current weeks, she’s acquired textual content messages from unknown numbers, containing grisly video clips. She presumes they’re from the Taliban, warning her of what is to come back.
“One recent video I got shows the Taliban torturing a man to death,” she says. “I am ready to be killed by a bullet, but I do not want to fall into the hands of the Taliban. I don’t want to be cut up into pieces.”
There’s a disconnect between what Taliban officers say and what their foot troopers do
Reporting has lengthy been a harmful and even lethal enterprise for Afghan journalists. They have been focused with attacks and kidnappings, a few of which have been claimed by the Taliban. Now, with the Taliban in energy, the combo of threats, detentions and obscure media guidelines, plus a shattered economic system, have set the clock again on Afghan media progress.
More than 150 media corporations and radio stations throughout the nation have shut down, according to TOLO News, Afghanistan’s most prominent broadcast news outlet. Hundreds of Afghan journalists have fled the nation since Taliban forces took management of Kabul in August.
Those who’ve stayed, like Daryabi and Atefa, say they do not know the place the Taliban’s pink traces are. Many have stopped working for worry of retribution, violent assaults and inexplicable detentions.
“The Taliban doesn’t have full control over the way its people operate,” says Steven Butler, the Asia program coordinator on the Committee to Protect Journalists.
He has been following the instances of Afghan journalists and says there seems to be a disconnect between Taliban leaders, who insist publicly that they help press freedoms, and its foot troopers who mete out harsh punishments.
Taliban leaders argue that these now patrolling the streets have spent the final 20 years combating, not policing or participating with civic society. Some lower-level Taliban admit they’re struggling to regulate to their new lives and miss the battle.
Taliban officers use this as justification for media restrictions.
“We have repeatedly said that we believe in the freedom of speech in the media,” Taliban spokesman Inamullah Samangani tells NPR. “Of course, because the situation is not normal yet and is not fully under control, we want to prevent some irregular and disorderly scenarios and assure the security and safety of journalists … to prepare the ground for them to report. Right now, in places like military centers or places that are still contested and combative and not yet fully in our control — we advise journalists not to report from there.”
Adding to the confusion, Samangani denies the existence of 11 harsh guidelines for the press that were announced by Qari Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban’s interim director of the Government Media and Information Center, at a Sept. 19 press convention.
For now, Samangani specifies two basic prohibitions: “There are two issues we won’t tolerate — when our religious rights are attacked, and second, when there’s an obvious agenda against our national interest,” he says. “Apart from these two items, I told you we are open to accepting criticism and we can be held accountable. But the problem is that the regime is not formed well yet. It is in the process of forming and it is our view that all institutions should start their affairs first, and that will allow for better cooperation and dissemination of information. That’s when we will be ready to have long investigative stories and we will cooperate with them.”
When requested concerning the violent detention of Daryabi and his colleague, Samangani expresses remorse however deflects blame.
“We believe that the journalists turned into the victims of an illegal protest. The protest was not run in cooperation with the government and legal systems,” he says. “Unfortunately, the mujahideen who were there for security were not aware and were not prepared to deal with that.”
The Taliban are unlikely to advertise press freedom
Even probably the most ardent critics of U.S. navy involvement in Afghanistan regard the flowering of Afghan media as one of many nation’s best success tales of the final 20 years. Few might have imagined that TVs — largely banned throughout Taliban rule within the Nineties — or radios, which solely carried propaganda and Islamic programming again then, would finally supply a vibrant array of stories, programming and leisure. By this 12 months, the country had roughly 70 tv stations, greater than 170 FM radio stations and 175 newspapers.
Butler fears Afghanistan is probably going headed towards a system through which the Taliban management what journalists write. “Journalists who step over a line will get into trouble one way or another,” he warns.
As international correspondents are referred to as to cowl different crises and conflicts, the world’s consideration will inevitably flip away from Afghanistan. It is at that second that the story of Afghanistan will fall squarely on the shoulders of Afghan journalists — and that, Butler says, is when the Taliban’s true positions on a free press will come into focus.
“You have to ask yourself, is this a government that is willing to accept criticism, you know, sharp criticism that a free press normally would deliver?” says Butler. “I think it’s unlikely.”
Fazelminallah Qazizai reported from Kabul.