Taliban’s return ‘a catastrophe’ for journalism in Afghanistan
Journalism in Afghanistan is in danger of disappearing, according to the head of the International Federation of Journalists, who said reporters trying to continue doing their jobs under the Taliban had been beaten and imprisoned.
“The Taliban don’t want to make too many waves right now, but they will want to take control of everything, including the foreign press in Afghanistan,” Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ secretary general, told the Guardian. “And as often happens in such situations, foreign journalists will be considered agents of foreign governments.
“I believe what we will see emerge is an official media – a Taliban media – and no women. All other journalists will just disappear. It wasn’t easy before – and even before the Taliban took power, journalists were killed – but it is very bleak now.
Bellanger believes there is currently a “grace” period but expects the Taliban to crackdown on international and Afghan journalists.
“It’s a question of weeks before it changes. I am pessimistic – I will be glad to be proved wrong, but the Taliban is still the Taliban. They announced an inclusive government and what did we get – no women. It’s a catastrophe.”
IFJ representatives are in contact with Afghan colleagues and believe about 1,300 remain in the country, including about 220 women, mostly in Kabul. The IFJ is affiliated with Afghanistan’s National Journalists’ Union and the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association.
“It is now completely impossible for female journalists to work. The rest are doing a very difficult job and are doing what they can. We have photographs of journalists who have been imprisoned and beaten, so the situation for them is very difficult and dangerous,” he said.