‘Don’t be scared’: Afghan TV anchor relays Taliban message surrounded by armed fighters

By | Written by Meenakshi Ray
Aug 30, 2021 11:25 AM IST

Taliban fighters killed a relative of one of its journalists while hunting for him, German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle said last Thursday.

A video of a television anchor surrounded by armed Taliban fighters is being widely shared on social media even as the hardline Islamist group has assured freedom of the press and said people should not flee the country. The 42-second clip, shared on Twitter by BBC reporter Kian Sharifi and Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, shows the host of a political debate programme reading a statement from the Taliban as well as at least eight Taliban fighters.

The Taliban fighters were standing behind the presenter of Afghan TV's Peace Studio political debate programme. (Kian Sharifi/Twitter)
The Taliban fighters were standing behind the presenter of Afghan TV's Peace Studio political debate programme. (Kian Sharifi/Twitter)

“With armed Taliban fighters standing behind him, the presenter of Afghan TV's Peace Studio political debate programme says the Islamic Emirate (Taliban's preferred name) wants the public to "cooperate with it and should not be afraid,” Sharifi tweeted. Sharifi said in another tweet the programme is called Pardaz and that later the presenter interviewed a Taliban fighter who “presumably outranks the rest of the lot in the studio.”

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“This is surreal. Taliban militants are posing behind this visibly petrified TV host with guns and making him to say that people of #Afghanistan shouldn’t be scared of the Islamic Emirate. Taliban itself is synonymous with fear in the minds of millions. This is just another proof,” tweeted Alinejad.

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Last week, Deutsche Welle said a relative of one of its journalists was killed by Taliban fighters while hunting for him. The German public broadcaster said last Thursday that the Taliban were conducting a house-to-house search for the journalist, who now works in Germany. The Taliban also raided the homes of at least three other DW journalists, the broadcaster said.

"The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban yesterday is inconceivably tragic and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves. It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organized searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!” DW director general Peter Limbourg said.

Also read | World needs to guide the Taliban in Afghanistan, China tells US

A day before that a US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said that the Taliban must stop attacking journalists covering the group's takeover of Afghanistan and allow them to operate freely, The press watchdog said that according to reporters and media representatives, the Taliban have raided the homes of at least four media workers in the country, including three employees of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle who have gone into hiding.

Also read | From music to women's education in Afghanistan: What Taliban said so far

"The Taliban needs to stand by its public commitment to allow a free and independent media at a time when Afghanistan's people desperately need accurate news and information. The Taliban must cease searching the homes of journalists, commit to ending the use of violence against them, and allow them to operate freely and without interference,” CPJ Asia program coordinator Steven Butler said.

The CPJ said it is also investigating reports that the Taliban fighters beat at least two journalists in the eastern city of Jalalabad while they were covering a protest against the takeover of Afghanistan on August 15. The watchdog also said that it suspected Taliban fighters shot and killed Toofan Omar, a manager of the privately-owned radio station Paktia Ghag Radio, on August 9 and kidnapped a reporter for another privately-owned news channel Gharghasht TV.

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