Taliban Ban on Afghanistan International Sparks Outcry – ایران اینترنشنال

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The Taliban’s decision to ban London-based channel Afghanistan International has sparked condemnation from international journalism watchdogs and rights groups.

Accusing the network of violating neutrality, the Taliban has imposed restrictions on the network, drawing criticism for stifling free speech and press freedom.

“The Taliban must immediately lift the restrictions on Afghanistan International TV and allow Afghan journalists and citizens to freely and without fear access to the news and analysis of this network,” said Beh Lih Yi, coordinator of the Asia program of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), in a statement Thursday.

Afghan journalist associations, including the Center of Afghan Journalists and the House of Freedom of Expression of Afghanistan, have denounced the Taliban’s move as unlawful, advocating for the protection of free media rights.

Additionally, the chairman of the Afghanistan United Front, based in the US and a former commander of the Afghan army’s special forces, extended gratitude to Harun Najafizada, who heads the channel, expressing solidarity with him and his team on the platform X.

He emphasized that Afghans deeply admire Najafizada and his team, stating, “The effectiveness of communication can only be gauged by the reaction of adversaries…”

“No pressure will make us abandon our highest journalistic standards and professional principles. Taliban pressures are a threat to free media, but they cannot stop our activities,” asserted Najafizada, the executive editor of Afghanistan International.

Accusations of privacy breaches, character assassination, distortion of information, and propagating insurgent propaganda have been leveled against Afghanistan International by the Taliban’s Media Violation Commission. Despite the lack of evidence to substantiate these claims, the Taliban remains steadfast in its stance.

In response, Afghanistan International has refuted the allegations as baseless, vowing to continue delivering impartial news and information to the Afghan people.

“Unsupported accusations made by the Taliban group are baseless. Afghanistan International will continue its efforts to deliver free and impartial news and information to the people of Afghanistan,” declared the head of Afghanistan International.

Despite the Taliban’s efforts to discredit Afghanistan International, the network has garnered widespread popularity among Afghans. A survey conducted by Media Action on behalf of the BBC Global Division shows that Afghanistan International is the most-watched international TV channel in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan International is a home for the voice of all Afghan people,” emphasized Najafizada.

Taliban’s call for a boycott of Afghanistan International TV and Radio underscores the challenges faced by independent media in Afghanistan, accentuating the precarious state of press freedom in the country.

According to CPJ, since assuming control in 2021, the Taliban have closed down several local broadcasting stations, including Radio Nasim in central Daikundi Province, Hamisha Bahar Radio and TV in eastern Nangarhar Province, and Radio Sada e Banowan in northeastern Badakhshan Province. Additionally, in 2022, the Taliban prohibited international broadcasters such as the US Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America.

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