Afghanistan: Radio Najarab silenced amid conflict

Broadcasts from Radio Najarab, a radio station in Najrab district of Kapisa Province, ceased from July 20 after staffers fled to save their lives amid fighting between government security forces and Taliban militants. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Afghanistan affiliate, the Afghanistan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) said freedom of press must be respected amid the escalating conflict in the country.

An Afghan security forces personnel stands guard along a road amid ongoing fighting with Taliban fighters in the western city of Qala-i- Naw, the capital of Badghis province, on July 8, 2021. Credit: AFP

The regular broadcast of the Radio Najrab ceased after fighting started between Taliban and Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) some five kilometres from the radio station. “As the war started, the radio staffers ran away to Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan to save their lives”, vice president of AIJA, Hujatullah Mujadidi, said.

Homes of most journalists working for the Najarab radio now fall in Taliban controlled areas and most journalists were taking shelter in Kabul, around 85km away.

AIJA reported journalist’s houses captured by Taliban militants were now under attack by government forces. The residence of journalist Abdul Muttalib Hamed, head of Radio Najarab, was bombed after it was seized by Taliban militants. “We also ran away due to the possible attack on our residence by the government forces. This way, we have been able to save our lives,” he said.

At July 22, the Taliban claimed to control more than 100 districts, including many districts of Kapisa province where Radio Najarab is located. As well as Radio Najarab, the IFJ received information that many media houses ceased regular broadcasting and publication due to fears for safety or threat in recent weeks. The Taliban threatened at least eight media outlets during an attack on Qala-e-Naw, in the northwest Badghis province, including Badghis National Radio and Television, Private TV Obur, Radio Hanzaleh, RadioSimim, Ghazali Radio, Radio Nariman, and Baghis Voice Radio. IFJ also received reports that AIJA Radio Darman, in the Aqcha district of the northern Jawzjan province and Radio Tanin, in the Shindand district of the northwestern Herat province, were also under Taliban control for almost two days in early July.

A Taliban spokesperson, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the militants had no policy to halt broadcast and publications, including that of Radio Najarab.  

The AIJA said: “This time is really a very dangerous time for the journalists and media workers in Afghanistan. It is high time for the national and international actors to come together to save the lives of the journalists in particular and media in general.”

The IFJ said: “We urge both the warring parties to respect freedom of press and expression and urge to adhere International Humanitarian law by not using civilian’s residence for shelter or any sorts of uses in the war.”

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

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

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram