Afghanistan: hundreds of protesters, media workers face Taliban violent repressionEvent
- Initial Date
- Sep 7, 2021
- Event Description
The Taliban have fired warning shots to disperse the crowd at a large protest in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video footage from the scene shows people running to safety, while heavy gunfire can be heard in the background.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday to denounce Taliban rule and demand women's rights.
Protesters also chanted anti-Pakistan slogans, as many believe neighbouring Pakistan supports the Taliban, which the country denies.
A video sent to the BBC shows Taliban fighters firing their guns into the air - a move the group banned last week after several people were reported killed after celebratory aerial fire.
Guards at a nearby bank opened its basement car park to dozens of women who sheltered from the gunfire for about 20 minutes, one of the protesters told the BBC.
Some journalists, including the BBC's team, were prevented from filming at the rally. Afghanistan's Tolo news agency reported that its cameraman was arrested and detained by the Taliban for nearly three hours.
A former government official, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC that Taliban members were taking close-up photos of leading protesters, possibly to help identify them later.
Women have been protesting for the past week, but on Tuesday men also joined their calls for equality and safety. Many observers had commented that there were few men at the previous women-led rallies.
The protesters were heard chanting "long live the resistance" and "death to Pakistan" as they marched.
"The Islamic government is shooting at our poor people," one woman at the protest told Reuters news agency.
Another protester, Sarah Fahim, told AFP news agency: "Afghan women want their country to be free. They want their country to be rebuilt. We are tired... We want that all our people have normal lives. How long shall we live in this situation?"
The demonstrations come one day after Ahmad Massoud, the leader of anti-Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's Panjshir Valley, called for a "national uprising" by civilians against the militants.
Many protesters showed support for the resistance forces, who say they are still fighting off the Taliban in Panjshir.
The Taliban on Monday claimed victory in the province - the final pocket of territory which has remained outside their rule.
Yesterday at approximately 11:00 a.m., Taliban fighters detained Wahid Ahmadi, a camera operator with the privately owned broadcaster TOLO News, while he was filming the protest near the presidential palace in Kabul, according to a report by his employer and Lotfullah Najafizada, the head of TOLO News TV, who spoke with CPJ via phone.
Taliban fighters confiscated Ahmadi’s camera, handcuffed him, and took him to the Taliban military headquarters in Kabul, according to Najafizada. The Taliban released Ahmadi approximately three hours later after the broadcaster communicated with the Taliban cultural commission, according to Najafizada. The Taliban returned Ahmadi’s camera with the footage of the protests intact, he said.
Also at approximately 11:00 a.m. yesterday, Taliban fighters detained two additional journalists with a local broadcaster reporting on the protest as they approached the presidential palace, according to the journalists, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal by the Taliban.
Taliban fighters shoved the journalists to the ground and used their microphone to beat both of the journalists on their heads, breaking the microphone, they said.
The two were handcuffed and taken to an office of the National Directorate of Security, the journalist said. While in custody, Taliban fighters shoved both the journalists to the ground and beat and kicked the first journalist on his head, shoulders, back, and legs, and the second journalist on his arm, head, chest, and back, they said. They also threatened to beat them with metal and electric tools, they added. Taliban fighters also slapped the first across the face, he said.
The two were released at approximately 1:30 p.m., they said, adding that the Taliban fighters returned their camera but kept its memory card and their microphone. The first journalist visited a hospital and was prescribed painkillers and muscle relaxants, according to the journalist and a copy of the prescription, which CPJ reviewed. The second journalist sustained bruising on his head and a cut on his elbow, but did not seek medical attention, he said.
At approximately 12:30 p.m. yesterday, Taliban fighters also detained Mirzahussain Sadid, a correspondent with Afghan Notes, a project of the U.S.-based content creation agency Fasila, according to a tweet by Afghan Notes and Brian Conley and Mohammad Aliraza, the heads of Afghan Notes, who spoke with CPJ via phone. Conley said that the project would officially launch later this month.
Sadid was filming and taking pictures of demonstrators in Kabul with his phone when Taliban fighters beat him and took him to the previous office of the interior ministry, according to those sources. Conley and Aliraza did not provide additional details of the beating. The Taliban did not return Sadid’s phone that they seized during his arrest, Aliraza said, adding that Sadid was released at around 8:30 p.m. yesterday.
At approximately 1:00 p.m. yesterday, Taliban fighters detained another journalist with an international broadcaster while he was filming the protest with his phone in Zanbaq Square and dragged him into an office of the National Directorate of Security, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal by the Taliban. While in custody, the fighters pointed their guns at the journalist’s head, and threatened that if he published a report about the Taliban, they would shoot him in the head, he said. The journalist was released approximately two hours later, he said, adding that he was not beaten and did not sustain any physical injuries, but was left psychologically shaken.
Separately, CPJ is investigating a report from The Associated Press that Taliban fighters detained an additional journalist and forced him to rub his nose on the ground and apologize for covering the Kabul protest yesterday before releasing him.
CPJ is also investigating an incident alleged in a tweet by Ezzatullah Mehrdad, a reporter covering Afghanistan for The Washington Post, that Taliban fighters detained Mortaza Samadi, a freelance photographer, while he was covering a protest against the group yesterday in the western Herat city. The Taliban accused him of being a “leader of the protesters and chanting deaths to the Emirate,” according to the tweet. As of today, Samadi remains in the Taliban’s custody, according to a person familiar with the case, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity due to fear of reprisal by the Taliban.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Intimidation and Threats
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Community-based HRD
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 7 September 2021, a group of demonstrators including WHRDs was barred from protesting for human and women's rights by the Taliban, while 7 media workers were arrested, beaten and intimidated for reporting the incident in Kabul, Afghanistan.