Taliban fighters detained and beat multiple journalists at a protest for women’s rights in Kabul, leaving several with multiple welts and bruises and raising huge fears about the future of independent media in the country.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 14 reporters were beaten or detained over Tuesday and Wednesday at a series of small protests by women who fear a loss of legal and social rights under the ultra-conservative Taliban government that was announced earlier this week.
None of the ministers named by the group’s reclusive leadership were women or from ethnic minorities who fear Taliban oppression, while the group also announced a return of the dreaded Ministry of Vice and Virtue police that will patrol the country looking for violations of religious law.
While most detained journalists were quickly released with minor injuries after a brief detention – the Taliban have since announced limits on political demonstrations – two journalists from the daily newspaper Etilaatroz, Taqi Daryabi and Nematullah Naqdi, were held in a Kabul police station for hours while being beaten by rifle butts and electrical cables before eventually being released, they said.
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“They were beaten so bad, they couldn’t walk. They were hit with guns, they were kicked, they were whipped with cables, they were slapped,” Aber Shaygan, another journalist from Etilaatroz told Al Jazeera.
Photographs of their injuries shocked local journalists who had grown used to reasonably calm dealings with the militant group since it took over the country last month.
“They’re getting meaner,” said a Western journalist currently working in Kabul, who asked not to be identified whiles peaking about the Taliban. “This beating was on locals but some of these units are less disciplined than others and are not used to journalists who keep filming [when ordered to stop.]”
“It’s only a matter of time before they do this to a foreign crew,” they said.