Photo: AFJC

Taliban Shuts Dawn Radio Station in Khost Province

Taliban security agents forcibly closed Nan Radio, a private radio station in southeastern Khost province, citing a “legal issue,” the Afghanistan Journalist Center (AFJC) reported, calling for the immediate and unconditional reopening of the media outlet.

In a statement on Tuesday, January 16, AFJC stated that an employee of the radio station informed the organization that, “The security forces of the Khost Police Command arrived at the radio building in the second district of Khost at around noon on Tuesday. While threatening the employees, they forcibly removed the devices and equipment of Radio Nan from this building. They kicked out the media and closed its gate.”

According to AFJC, Nan Radio station was founded in Khost City, the capital of Khost province, in early 2010. The radio station produces and airs various programs covering politics, society, culture, sports, and religion. It is accessible on the frequency 89.1 FM in Khost and its surrounding areas.

As per AFJC’s statement, following the Taliban action, the radio station ceased operations, and the employees were also ordered to leave the place. Taliban forces reportedly detained four employees of the radio station for two hours. AFJC stated that one of the owners of the radio station, who was arrested by the Taliban a week ago, has remained in custody ever since.

AFJC quoted Tahir Ahrar, the spokesman of the Taliban local police, saying, “Today’s action by the security forces was based on the verdict of the Khost Primary Court. The court ruled that the owner of the radio station should vacate the building due to non-payment of monthly rent, and this ruling was implemented today.”

The Taliban takeover has decimated Afghanistan’s once-thriving media sector, leaving journalists vulnerable to arrest, harassment, and torture, despite an initial promise to allow press freedom after taking power in August 2021, the Taliban have shut down dozens of local media outlets, arrested and assaulted reporters, banned some international broadcasters, and denied visas to foreign correspondents. 

The Taliban have reportedly detained dozens of journalists and media personnel over the last two years. Some were allegedly tortured, but most were released after spending days or weeks in detention centers of the group’s General Directorate for Intelligence (GDI). These journalists were released after providing guarantees to comply with the Taliban’s order not to work with “banned media outlets.” the group has unofficially categorized several newly established media outlets operating outside Afghanistan as hostile to their regime.

In its annual report, AFJC stated that Afghanistan’s media landscape observed a noticeable shrinkage in 2023, marked by severe restrictions and widespread violations of their fundamental and legal rights. The media watchdog documented 168 instances of journalist rights violations committed by the Taliban in 2023, including the death of one journalist, injuries to 19 others, 87 reported threats, and 61 documented arrests.

According to the report, the Taliban have issued at least 14 directives concerning the media within the last two years, with some being issued in 2023. “These directives encompassed a range of aspects, such as barring women from working in national TV, limiting the coverage of demonstrations and civil protests, and imposing guidelines on news preparation and content,” AFJC said. The report further says that the escalation of pressure on the media and journalists through these directives has led to a dual impact. It has curtailed their freedom and independence while also heightening self-censorship, prompting a shift in media focus towards covering humanitarian and educational events.