Photo: Hamisha Bahar website

CPJ urges Taliban to stop media crackdown in Afghanistan

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the Taliban to stop the “relentless crackdown” on the media in Afghanistan following the closure of Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV station in eastern Nangarhar province.

In a statement on Thursday, the CPJ urged the Taliban to allow Hamisha Bahar to resume its operations.

The local radio and TV network was shut down by the Taliban on Tuesday for holding a journalism training that included women.

According to the Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC), a group of 10 to 15 members of the Taliban provincial police forcefully entered the office of Hamisha Bahar on August 1, accusing the outlet of violating the group’s ban on women’s higher education.

“The Taliban must allow the broadcaster Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV to resume operations promptly and ensure its employees, including female journalists, are allowed unfettered access to professional training,” CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, Beh Lih Yi, stated.

“It is appalling that the Taliban cracked down on a media outlet because of women’s participation at a journalism training session. Denying women of their rights has become the hallmark of the Taliban regime.”

Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV network employs 35 people, including nine women.

The Taliban has imposed severe restrictions on media freedom in Afghanistan in the nearly two years since they overtook power.

A survey conducted by the Afghan National Journalists Union (ANJU) in January 2023 indicated that out of the 579 media outlets operating in Afghanistan previously, only 292 remained functional by the end of 2022. In the post-August 2021 period, 99 radio stations stopped operating across the country.