Taliban halts local TV network’s broadcasts in Nangarhar

The activities of Hamesha Bahar TV and Radio Network in Nangarhar province were abruptly halted following a disturbing incident where a group of 10 to 15 Taliban members forcibly entered the media outlet’s local office on Monday afternoon. The office breach, as confirmed by employees, resulted in verbal abuse directed at attendees of a journalism class, including women, sparking concerns over media freedom and women’s rights in areas under Taliban control.

According to Atal Khan Stanekzai, the head of Hamesha Bahar Radio and TV network in Nangarhar, the Taliban members treated the employees and attendees with inappropriate language and disparaging remarks. Women participating in the class were targeted, with the Taliban deeming the co-ed education as promoting “prostitution.”

Yasamin Sahar, an employee present during the incident, expressed disappointment, noting that some female employees chose not to return to the office the next day. This incident is not the first of its kind, as the media outlet had previously faced similar treatment by the Taliban about two months ago in Jalalabad city.

Hamesha Bahar Radio and TV network has been an influential presence in Nangarhar for nearly 12 years, playing a vital role in disseminating information through its broadcasts. Moreover, the organization has been organizing journalism classes for the youth, aiming to foster knowledge and skills in the field of journalism.

This alarming incident has raised concerns about the challenges media outlets and educational initiatives face in areas under Taliban control. It highlights the critical issue of ensuring the safety and rights of media professionals and students in Afghanistan as a number of journalists said.

Journalists have expressed growing concern over the shrinking working environment for journalists, accusing the Taliban of severely restricting freedom of expression.

“Taliban’s actions are squeezing the space for journalistic activities, making it narrower than ever,” said Shakrullah Pason, a journalist.

The imprisonment of Irfanullah Bidar, an employee of Radio Safa, in Nangarhar for 12 days earlier by the Taliban further adds to the apprehension surrounding freedom of expression in Afghanistan. Amnesty International has also noted that the takeover of power by the Taliban has led to numerous restrictions on freedom of expression in the country.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center, in a statement on Tuesday, revealed that the class run by Hamesha Bahar TV network had 16 attendees, including six women. Sources have indicated that the reason behind the media outlet’s closure was attributed to the presence of women in the class.