The latest: The Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on local media outlets in southern Helmand and northern Parwan provinces. On February 21, the Taliban issued a ban on video filming and photography after the group’s provincial governor, Abdul Ahad Talib, and the provincial directorate of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice deemed video and photography forbidden in Islam.
- On February 21, the directorate of information and culture of Helmand told provincial journalists that the group’s governor has decided to restrict journalists from producing video and pictorial reports.
- Afghan journalists aware of the situation told Reporterly that the journalists have stopped their activities due to the ban.
- According to other sources, even the Taliban-controlled Bakhtar News Agency, and Radio Television Afghanistan in Helmand have stopped operations.
In another development, in mid-February, the Taliban provincial authorities in northern Parwan province have ordered local journalists to report on the province’s news and current affairs based on Bakhtar News Agency’s reports.
- The Taliban’s directorate of information and culture have issued the order and said that the Taliban government bodies will only communicate with Bakhtar News Agency, which will then report on the happenings in the province.
In Takhar too, Mohibullah Nikzad, the Taliban’s radio and television officer in the province, has warned local journalists in the province that they will be suppressed if they do not report in favor of the group. He made the threat in a meeting with reporters on Wednesday.
- Nikzad said that the media should use resources that work in favor of the Taliban. He has also warned that journalists who do not follow these orders will not be provided with information and will be removed from coordination groups.
Between the lines: Taliban authorities in various provinces have different views of the media and that’s why they impose regulations based on their own personal attitudes.
- In the case of Helmand, according to local sources, the Taliban governor has radical Islamic beliefs and is close to the Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada.
- The Helmand governor, too, is not accountable to the Taliban leadership in Kabul since he comes from the powerful, Ishaqzai tribe in southern Afghanistan.
- He views the journalists as spies of foreign countries and in a meeting with journalists in 2022, he told them that they would have been killed if there was not general amnesty by the Taliban leaders.
The big picture: Due to severe restrictions imposed by the Taliban, Afghan local media outlets have been facing dark times over the past year. The journalist’s access to information has been extremely limited and the Taliban’s control on media has been growing everyday passing.
- In fact, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Wednesday said that the Taliban must reverse its recent orders targeting media operations in Helmand and Parwan provinces and allow journalists to work freely and independently.
- “The Taliban’s severe restrictions imposed on the media in Helmand and Parwan provinces reflect an alarming escalation of local information control,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “The Taliban must immediately reverse these devastating orders and allow journalists to report without fear of retaliation. Access to information inside Afghanistan depends on it.”