Afghanistan: Taliban attacks journalists reporting women’s protest

On October 21, Taliban militants attacked several journalists covering a protest rally organized by a group of women demanding “work, bread, and education" in Kabul. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Afghanistan affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA) express serious concern on the attacks and urges the Taliban to respect the media, freedom of expression and women’s rights.

Afghan women chant slogans and hold placard during a women's rights protest in Kabul on October 21. Credits: BULENT KILIC / AFP

Taliban militants beat several print and electronic media journalists to prevent them from covering the women’s protest held in the morning of October 21 in Kabul.  In a video received by the IFJ, Taliban members are seen punching and kicking journalists. A foreign journalist who was reporting from the protest venue was hit with the butt of a rifle. The journalist was kicked in the back and punched. According to the AIJA, AFP photojournalist Bülent Kiliç and Afghan News Agency reporter Shafiullah Kakar were among those attacked.

 

The protest  rally, attended by around 20 women, was organisedin response to a rapid deterioration in women’s rights in Afghanistan including the right to education and the right to work following the Taliban takeover of the country in mid-August. Since then, the Taliban went on to close down Afghanistan’s women’s affairs ministry on September 16, replacing it with a controversial ‘virtue and vice ministry’.

Journalists covering an earlier protest on September 7 and 8 were also attacked when militants arrested more than 14 media workers while covering anti-Pakistan and women’s protests in Kabul.

According to a research report byAfghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU), Reflecting the current situation of Afghan Journalists and Media Workers in Afghanistanmore than 70% of journalists surveyed reported receiving threats since the Taliban occupation.

The AIJA said: Although officials promised the AIJA that there would be no more violence against journalists, yesterday's military attack on journalists during the aftermath of the protests was alarming and terrifying. AIJA calls on the security authorities, in addition to punishing the perpetrators of the incident seen in the picture, to take the necessary measures to ensure the continuity of the information work.”

The IFJ said: “Taliban’s attack on journalists in a bid to prevent them from covering the protest rally is against the freedom of press and the expression. IFJ urges the Taliban to adhere to its commitment to press freedom, media independence and women’s rights.”

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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