Taqi Daryabi and Nemat Naqdi, journalists from Kabul-based media outlet Etilaat-e Roz, were covering protests in the capital against Taliban violations of the rights of women, when they were held.
Etilaat-e Roz reported that their journalists were taken to a police station, where they were placed in separate cells, and hit severely with cables. Both men were released a day later and received medical care at a hospital for injuries to their back and faces.
The images of the two journalists displaying the injuries sustained are being shared widely on social media, underlining the global concerns over the hardline Islamist group’s ability to deliver on the promise to protect human rights and press freedom.
"One of the Taliban put his foot on my head, crushed my face against the concrete. They kicked me in the head... I thought they were going to kill me,” Naqdi, a photographer with Etilaat-e-Roz, told AFP.
He said he was accosted by a Taliban fighter after they saw him clicking pictures. Although he managed to pass the camera to someone in the crowd, three Taliban fighters caught him and took him to the station, said Naqdi.
"The Taliban started insulting me, kicking me," he told AFP, adding that they accused him of organising the rally.
When he asked them the reason for being beaten, he was told: "You are lucky you weren’t beheaded."
Zaki Daryabi, editor-in-chief of Etilaat-e Roz, said: “The history of [Afghanistan] journalism always remember the first day of [Taliban] cabinet announcement and this photo of [Etilaat-e Roz] journalists who were tortured by Taliban force.”
The history of #Afghanistan journalism always remember the first day of #Taliban cabinet announcement and this photo of @etilaatroz journalists who were tortured by Taliban force.
Photo: @yamphoto pic.twitter.com/xGCebQxAuY
— Zaki Daryabi (@ZDaryabi) September 9, 2021
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) slammed the Taliban for its attack on journalists.
“Taliban authorities claimed that they would allow the media to function so long as they ‘respected Islamic values,’ but they are increasingly preventing journalists from reporting on demonstrations,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at HRW. “The Taliban need to ensure that all journalists are able to carry out their work without abusive restrictions or fear of retribution.”
CPJ in its statement said the Taliban has detained and later released at least 14 journalists in the last two days, of whom at least six were subjected to violence during their arrest or detention.
“The Taliban is quickly proving that earlier promises to allow Afghanistan’s independent media to continue operating freely and safely are worthless,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia programme coordinator. He urged the Taliban “to live up to those earlier promises, to stop beating and detaining reporters doing their job, and allow the media to work freely without fear of reprisal”.
It also reported that Taliban fighters detained Wahid Ahmadi, a TOLO news photojournalist, on Tuesday while he was filming the protest near the presidential palace in Kabul. They took his camera and handcuffed him, before taking him to military headquarters. He was released approximately three hours later, after the broadcaster communicated with the Taliban cultural commission, said CPJ.