Code 194132
PublishDate: Monday, October 26, 2020 13:56

Media watchdog warns of Taliban interference in Ghazni

Afghan Journalists Safety Committee (AJSC) warned on Monday the Taliban had attempted to restrict media and journalists in battle-weary Ghazni province but that the group has backed down and the media can continue operating as usual.

In a statement issued by the AJSC, the organization said the insurgent group had summoned a number of local journalists and media officials in Ghazni and ordered them to edit their publications, broadcasts, etc according to the group’s demands. 

The Taliban had told them to stop “publishing women’s music and voices in the local media.”

The AJSC said: “This demand of the Taliban has been alarming and [the group] has warned the media officials that if their demand is not accepted, they will be responsible for the consequences.”

However, after efforts on the part of AJSC and help from local elders, “the issue has been resolved in some way,” stated the organization. 

AJSC said the Taliban stated their local members had initiated the move but that some of their demands should be “considered”. 

AJSC stated it the Taliban’s demands were alarming as the right to information and freedom of expression is a natural right of every human being and no individual or group has the right to deprive it.”

The AJSC urged all parties to the conflict to “respect this basic human right and refrain from obstructing it.”

The organization also called on the Afghan government to address the issue immediately, and take it up with Taliban officials in the political office in Doha. 

In response to the development, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) stated that “Afghanistan’s journalists deserve safety from all those who would seek to bully or gag them.”

Soon after the start of intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha last month, AJSC Director Najib Sharifi said there’s reason to be seriously concerned about the longevity of achievements in the media sector over the past 19 years. 

He said concerns had led the AJSC together with the Afghan media community to launch a Roadmap in April this year to ensure that negotiations would address the need for protection of press freedom and freedom of expression.

“Afghanistan’s constitution strongly upholds press freedom, but that could easily change if the Taliban were to gain political power. Taliban disagrees with the very idea of press freedom and losing these basic democratic rights will be disastrous for the nation”, Sharifi said. 

The Roadmap sets out specific proposals for the various stages of the peace talks; both for the Afghan government and the negotiating team, as well as for international stakeholders and the media community.

“We will work towards its implementation and we call on the Government of Afghanistan, International stakeholders and especially the negotiating team to consider the road map during the talks,” Sharifi said.

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