The Taliban fighters are accused of beating and torturing detained journalists covering the Kabul protests. These accusations raise questions over the group’s promises on media freedom in their first press conference after acquiring the state in August.
The two journalists for the Etilaatroz newspaper – Taqi Daryabi and Nematullah Naqdi – were detained by the group for covering the women’s march demanding freedom and rights from the group in West of Kabul on Wednesday morning.
The other two journalists from the same newspaper, Aber Shaygan, and Lutfali Sultani along with their editor, Kadhim Karimi, rushed to Daryabi and Naqdi’s aid at the police station where the two were detained.
But the moment they reached the station, they were mistreated by the Taliban officials, and their belongings were confiscated, including their mobile phones. The three men were taken in a holding cell with 15 other people, two of whom were reporters from Reuters and Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
While in the cell, they heard disturbing sounds of torture on their colleagues who were in different rooms. “We could hear their screams and cries through the walls. We even heard women cry for help,” the cellmates informed about the piercing cries.
The pictures posted by the newspaper and other journalists on social media clearly showed the kind of brutality Daryabi and Naqdi went through. There was clear physical evidence of floggings and beatings with cables that both the men were subjected to. Daryabi’s lower back, upper legs, and face were covered with deep red lesions. Naqdi’s left arm, upper back, upper legs, and face were also covered in red welts.
Shaygan said that the violence was so brutal that his colleagues had lost consciousness of the pain. “They could barely stand or walk. They were slapped, beaten with guns, whipped with cables, and kicked in the guts repeatedly.”
All the five men were released after hours in detention with a stern warning from the Taliban officials: “The actions of the protestors are illegal and you all broke the law by covering them. We are letting you go this time but you will not be let out this easily if caught doing it again.”
At the time, the five journalists were detained, the protests were not illegal; but, shortly after that, the officials issued a notice stating that any protests, along with their slogans, require approval from the Ministry of Justice, 24 hours beforehand.