Taliban Bans VOA Shows, BBC News Appears in Afghanistan

The Taliban has banned private television stations in Afghanistan from broadcasting news programs Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

It is the latest in a series of restrictions imposed by the Taliban on Afghan media to curb freedom of expression since the Islamists seized power over the country last August.

VOA, headquartered in Washington, immediately denounced the Taliban for banning the broadcast of its programs. “We ask the Taliban to reconsider this troubling and unfortunate decision,” said the acting director VOA

Yolanda Lόpez in a statement Sunday. “The content restrictions that the Taliban are trying to enforce are the antithesis to the freedom of expression that Afghans deserve,” Lόpez said.

The American broadcaster produces a half-hour news bulletin in Pashto and Dari, the two main languages ​​spoken in Afghanistan, five days a week for its Afghan partners, TOLO News and Shamshad TV.

Lόpez added “although we are disappointed and saddened by the Taliban’s orders against our affiliated television partners in this country, our commitment to providing factual information to the Afghan people is one that will Voice of America continue on television, radio and the internet at www.pashtovoa.com and www.darivoa.com and on social media.”

Director of broadcast languages ​​at BBC World Service also asked the Taliban to immediately lift the ban on its news bulletins.

“TV news bulletin BBC Pashto, Persian and Uzbek languages ​​have been banned from broadcasting in Afghanistan, after the Taliban ordered our TV partners to remove international broadcasts from their airwaves,” Tarik Kafala said in a statement Sunday.

“This is a worrying development at a time of uncertainty and turmoil for the Afghan people,” said Kafala. He stated that “more than six million Afghans consume journalism BBC who are independent and impartial on TV every week and it’s very important for them to have access to it in the future.”

A spokesman for the Taliban’s information ministry, when asked to comment on whether they had ordered Afghan television channels to remove international broadcasts from their channels, told VOA it will collect the information and call back.

Critics at home and abroad say media and free speech have deteriorated under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

Afghan journalists have been repeatedly detained and subjected to violence by security forces.

The Taliban’s interim government has issued a set of “journalism rules,” including the media’s adherence to the group’s interpretation of Islamic doctrine of “enjoying the good and forbidding the wrong.”

In December, the organization Journalists Without Borders (RSF) released survey results, which showed that at least 40 percent of Afghan media have disappeared and more than 80 percent of women journalists have lost their jobs since the Taliban took over the country.

The research found that the working environment for journalists in the capital, Kabul, and across the country has been “deeply worrying.”

Critics say conditions for local journalists to work freely have since gotten worse. Hundreds of journalists have also left Afghanistan since August fearing Taliban reprisals or because of problems with their practice of the profession under the new rulers.

More than 6,400 journalists and media employees have lost their jobs since August 15, when the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to an RSF survey.

Prohibition of programs VOA and BBC comes as the Taliban are under increasing international pressure and criticism for closing schools for Afghan girls. [uh/ab]