Guess what? In yet another move of suppressing free and independent media in Afghanistan, the Taliban has stopped the FM radio broadcasts from Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Afghanistan from December 1.
- Voice of America has stressed that after the radio broadcasts, the media will follow through with a commitment to provide “credible, credible and comprehensive” news from outside Afghanistan in Dari and Pashto languages.
- VOA said Taliban authorities cited “complaints they have received about programming content” without providing specifics.
- Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Associated Press on Thursday that Afghanistan has press laws and any network found “repeatedly contravening” these laws will have their privilege of working in the country taken away.
- “VOA and Azadi Radio (Radio Liberty) failed to adhere to these laws, were found as repeat offenders, failed to show professionalism and were therefore shut down,” he said.
- Even Radio Azadi has lost the right to broadcast from inside Afghanistan.
- Abdul Haq Hemad, the head of publications in the Ministry of Information and Culture of Taliban criticized a report by Radio Azadi and wrote on his Twitter page: “We have to stop such destructive media.”
- The Head of publications at the Taliban’s Ministry of Information and Culture has said that FM wave has stopped Radio Azadi in 13 cities in Afghanistan. “This radio was spreading unilateral news in violation of the principles of journalism,” he tweeted.
Why it matters? In March this year, the Taliban had barred private television stations in Afghanistan from airing Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news programs. However, after the ban from terrestrial television, the US government-funded news agency launched a 24/7 direct-to-home satellite-delivered television channel for Afghanistan
- Domestic and international critics say media and freedom of speech have worsened under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Afghan journalists have been repeatedly detained and subjected to violence by security forces. The Taliban government has issued a set of “journalism rules,” including media compliance with the group’s interpretation of Islamic doctrine on “enjoying good and forbidding wrong.”
- In December, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a survey, showing that at least 40% of Afghan media outlets have disappeared and more than 80% of women journalists lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover of the country.
- Hundreds of journalists have also left Afghanistan since August for fear of Taliban reprisals or because of problems associated with practicing their profession under the new rulers.
Zoom out: What is important to note here is that the ban on these two radio frequencies come close on the heels of the meeting of Taliban’s Minister of Information and Culture with internal media outlets in Afghanistan. Mullah Khairullah Khairkhah had apparently emphasized in this meeting that media publications should be in favor of the Taliban government.
- In fact, no women media representatives had been present at the meeting, which highlighted how the Taliban has been treating media and its representatives since it came to power.