Reported by PHIL SHIVER | August 30, 2021
With Taliban fighters standing behind him brandishing guns, an Afghan news anchor nervously urged viewers over the weekend not to be “afraid” amid the fall of the Afghan government and the formation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.
The bizarre scene demonstrates the danger that Afghan journalists are likely to face under Taliban rule and foreshadows the end of journalistic freedom in the country.
Armed Taliban militants stormed into the building of Afghan television network Peace Studio during a live recording on Sunday, proceeding to hold the anchor hostage while he granted favorable coverage to the new regime, Republic World reported.
“Don’t be afraid,” the anchor reportedly said during the broadcast.
“With the Taliban militants breathing down his neck, the TV anchor addressed the news bulletin, talking about the collapse of the Ashraf Ghani-led government and the formation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the news outlet reported. “Visibly afraid and uncomfortable, the presenter then went on to tell the nation to not be scared of the Taliban.”
Video of the incident has since gone viral, having been viewed more than one million times on social media.
“Afghanistan TV – surreal,” tweeted BBC World News anchor Yalda Hakim along with a video of the incident.
“This is what a political debate now looks like on Afghan TV, Taliban foot soldiers watching over the host,” she added. “The presenter talks about the collapse of the Ghani govt & says the Islamic Emirate says the Afghan people should not be afraid.”
A subsequent photo posted on Twitter by Afghan journalist Zaki Daryabi shows that at least eight Taliban fighters were involved in the news station storming.
“This is what [we] can’t accept,” she tweeted along with the image. “If so, we will stop our work.”
Amid its takeover of Afghanistan in recent weeks, Taliban leaders promised a “lenient” government and “amnesty” for individuals who worked with Western governments and organizations over the last 20 years of U.S. military occupation. But their promises have been empty ones. In reality, Taliban fighters have been “hunting down” journalists and persecuting women and religious minorities, including Christians. The bloodthirsty militants reportedly murdered the relative of an Afghan journalist partnered with German news outlet Deutsche Welle last week. They also killed a 33-year-old Afghan who had translated for U.S. Special Forces and who worked with newspaper Die Zeit.
Republic World added that “the Taliban barred two women journalists … who worked with the public broadcaster Radio Television Afghanistan” and “also attacked two other members of the press for covering the anti-Taliban protests taking place in the eastern Nangarhar province.”
Their actions have reportedly caused many journalists and activists to flee the nation in fear.