Afghanistan: Taliban arrest Ariana News Journalists

A group identifying as Taliban militants arrested Ariana News journalists Aslam Hijab and Waris Hasrat on January 31. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Afghanistan affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA) condemn the Taliban’s persecution of Afghan media workers and call for the journalists’ immediate release.

Journalists Waris Hasrat (left) and Aslam Hijab (right). Credit: AIJA

According to the AIJA’s chief executive Hujatullah Mujadidi, Taliban militants first detained journalist Aslam Hijab at the entrance of theAriana News headquarters in District 3 of Kabul.

Waris Hasrat, another journalist at the television station, was detained after he inquired about the reason for Hijab’s detention. Members of the Taliban handcuffed the two journalists and covered their heads with sacks, before  forcing them inside a vehicle.

It is not known where the detained journalists are kept and the allegations against the journalists have not been made public.

Ariana News, a leading independent news channel critical of the Taliban, has been a target of Taliban militants since the takeover in mid-August 2021. Taliban forces briefly detained another Ariana News journalist, Shapoor Farahmand, on December 28, 2021.

According to the AIJA, 40 journalists have been temporarily detained since the beginning of the Taliban regime in mid-august.

The detentions of Hijab and Hasrath are the latest in a series of attacks on Afghanistan’s media. On January 15, the Taliban attacked journalist Jaki Qais, and on January 10, Afghan journalist Noor Mohammad Hashemi, deputy director of Salam Afghanistan Media Organisation, was shot at by three unidentified men. On January 6, Taliban authorities detained three journalists, Faisal Modaris, Idris Rahimi and Milad Azizi, at a restaurant in the Shari Naw area of Kabul’s District Four.

Since the Taliban’s takeover, more than 257 media outlets have shut down and, according to a survey conducted by the AIJA, over 6,400 journalists in Afghanistan lost jobs. A survey conductd by the Afghanistan National Journalists Union (ANJU) found that 318 media houses have closed since August 15 and only 2,334 journalists are still working from a pre-Taliban high of 5,069. Just 243 women are still employed in Afghanistan’s media and 72 per cent of those who have lost their jobs are women.

AIJA said: “Such an arrest has a detrimental effect on freedom of expression and the media. Therefore, AIJA leadership urges for the immediate release of the arrested journalists. We urge Taliban authorities to refrain from arresting journalists.” 

The IFJ said: “The rising number of attacks, arrests and killings of media workers in Afghanistan highlights the Taliban’s disregard for media freedom and persecution of journalists simply for doing their jobs. The IFJ urges the Taliban to immediately and unconditionally release  Aslam Hijab and Waris Hasrat and end its vilification of Afghanistan’s media.”

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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