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Taliban faces backlash for shutting down broadcaster

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KABUL – The Taliban leadership is under growing scrutiny for its decision to shut down the operations of private broadcaster Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV in Afghanistan. The international watchdog, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), has called on the Taliban to cease its ongoing crackdown on media outlets and permit Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV to continue its vital work.

Reports indicate that on Sunday, July 30, approximately 20 members of the Taliban provincial police conducted a raid on the office of Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV in Jalalabad city, located in the eastern Nangarhar province. The raid was reportedly prompted by information regarding a journalism training workshop, which was attended by both male and female journalists associated with the broadcaster. A journalist with knowledge of the situation, speaking to CPJ anonymously due to concerns of reprisal, revealed that armed Taliban provincial police subsequently moved to close down the broadcaster’s operations and seal its office on Tuesday.

Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator, expressed strong condemnation of the Taliban’s actions, stating, “The Taliban must promptly allow Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV to resume its operations and ensure that its employees, including female journalists, are granted unrestricted access to professional training. It is deeply troubling that the Taliban’s crackdown targeted a media outlet simply because it involved women in a journalism training session. Such actions underscore the oppressive nature of the Taliban regime.”

Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV, which employs 35 individuals, including nine women, has found itself in the crosshairs of the Taliban’s restrictive policies. The group’s actions align with a broader trend of increasing limitations on women’s education and employment opportunities, a trend that has been highlighted by the United Nations in recent months.

CPJ reached out to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid for comment through a messaging app but received no response. In a special report published by CPJ in August 2022, the dire state of media freedom in Afghanistan was underscored, revealing a rapid deterioration characterized by censorship, arrests, assaults, and particularly, restrictions on women journalists since the Taliban regained control of the country in 2021.

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