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Taliban issues new threats against Afghan media (Demo)

This statement was originally published on on 25 June 2019.

The Taliban has issued a threat to Afghan media, saying journalists will be targeted unless news outlets stop broadcasting what they describe as government propaganda against the insurgents.

In a statement on Monday, the Taliban has given Afghan radio stations, TV channels and others a one-week deadline to stop anti-Taliban commercials paid by the government.

The group warned it would target all those people associated with those media outlets which continue to broadcast anti-Taliban commercials.

The Taliban said in the statement, they were sternly warning all TV, radio and other broadcast channels to immediately halt their ‘hostile activities’. According to the statement, ‘if all local and national FM radios, TV channels and other media outlets do not seize such activities within a one-week period then the Taliban will not consider these outlets as media channels but as enemy intelligence nerve centers … these media shall become military targets for the group in the capital, provinces, cities and rural areas and none of their offices, journalists, workers and personnel shall retain any immunity,’ the Taliban added

This is only the latest instance of Taliban threats against the media. Previous threats have resulted in deadly attacks.

In January 2016, a Taliban suicide bomber rammed his car into a bus carrying employees of Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s most popular private broadcaster, killing seven media staff.

The Taliban had said it bombed the bus because it claimed Tolo was producing propaganda for the US military and its allies.

The Afghanistan Journalists Center (AFJC) in a statement strongly condemned the Taliban for its warning against the Afghan media outlets, calling on the Afghan government to adopt comprehensive measures to ensure the safety of media outlets and journalists around the country.

“We once again warn all parties to the conflict, both state and non-state actors nd in particular the Taliban, and remind them of their obligations as regards the protection of journalists,” said AFJC in a statement. “Attacks on media and journalists – as civilian targets – constitute war crimes and the Taliban will be held to account for every attack of the group on journalists and the media.”

“If the Taliban has any objection about the context and content of the commercials and advertisements of the Afghan media, they are welcome to discuss their criticism, but nobody is allowed to threaten the media and to target them as military targets,” AFJC added.

Journalists in Afghanistan have been threatened or attacked not only by the Taliban but also by the Islamic state group (Daesh), government officials and powerful local figures unhappy with their news coverage.

AFJC recorded a total of 92 cases of violence, including 20 fatal cases against journalists and media workers in 1397 Solar Year (21 March 2018 – 20 March 2019), the deadliest year for Afghan media. The report revealed that responsibility for the fatal cases of journalists has been claimed by Daesh (IS), unknown armed men and the Taliban.

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