In a press conference held just hours after seizing control of Kabul, the Taliban pledged to protect a “free media” and protect women’s rights. However, the Taliban is now accused of detaining and torturing two journalists from the Afghan newspaper Etilaatroz who were covering a women’s rights protest in the capital city.
“Taqi Daryabi and Nematullah Naqdi, reporters for the Etilaatroz news agency, were detained by the Taliban on Wednesday while covering a women’s protest in the western part of the capital,” according to Al Jazeera. When two of their colleagues turned up at a Taliban outpost to ask about the whereabouts of the two journalists, they were “pushed and slapped” and had their possessions confiscated by the Taliban.
“Naqdi and his colleague reporter Taqi Daryabi, both of whom work for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily), were assigned to cover a protest in front of a police station in Kabul by women demanding the right to work and education. This was one of the many protests that took place in the country before the Taliban banned protests without permission,” Hindustan Times stated.
“They were interrupted as soon as they started taking photos. ‘They told me “You cannot film,”’ Naqdi said adding that they tried to grab his camera but he gave it to someone in the crowd. After hours of beating and detainment, they were released,” said the reporter.
Naqdi told media Wednesday that a Taliban official told him, “You are lucky you weren’t beheaded.”
He also said that “one of the Taliban put his foot on his head and then crushed his face against the concrete.”
“I thought they were going to kill me,” he told a French newspaper.
Painful. Afghan journalists from @Etilaatroz, Nemat Naqdi & Taqi Daryabi, display wounds sustained from Taliban torture & beating while in custody after they were arrested for reporting on a women’s rally in #Kabul, #Afghanistan.#JournalismIsNotACrime https://t.co/jt631nRB69 pic.twitter.com/CcIuCy6GVw
— Marcus Yam 文火 (@yamphoto) September 8, 2021
Images of the injuries suffered by the reporters were documented by Etilaat Roz and shared on Twitter. The painful images show one man with injuries to his shoulders and another with dozens of long welts circling his waist and legs as if they had both been beaten. The two men claim that they were flogged and lashed with cables, kicked, and beaten with weapons throughout their interrogations.
After a women’s rights demonstration in Kabul attracted international attention, the Taliban also warned that protests would be prohibited in the future.
As reported by Reuters in mid-August, just after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital city, the group was attempting to establish a more “inclusive” administration in order to earn official international recognition for its efforts. One of the promises made by the new and improved Taliban is the establishment of a free press.
“In its first press conference since capturing the capital Kabul, the Islamist militant movement said on Tuesday it would allow free media and jobs for women – banned when it was last in power from 1996 to 2001,” Reuters noted.
“Private media can continue to be free and independent; they can continue their activities … Impartiality of the media is very important. They can critique our work so that we can improve,” a Taliban spokesperson said at the conference.