By Sabine Siebold
BERLIN -Taliban fighters hunting a journalist from Deutsche Welle have shot dead one member of his family and severely injured another, the German public broadcaster said, adding that three more of its journalists had had their homes raided.
The Islamist militant movement had promised it would allow free media – banned when it was last in power from 1996 to 2001 – when it gave its first news conference on Tuesday since capturing the capital Kabul.
Some Afghan journalists have also reported having been beaten and their homes raided https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/actions-or-words-afghan-journalists-question-talibans-free-press-pledge-2021-08-19 since the Taliban seized the capital Kabul on Sunday.
Deutsche Welle (DW) said the Taliban had been doing a house-to-house search to find the journalist, who it said was now working in Germany and did not name. Other relatives were able to flee and are on the run now, it said.
“The killing of a close relative of one of our editors by the Taliban … is inconceivably tragic, and testifies to the acute danger in which all our employees and their families in Afghanistan find themselves,” DW Director General Peter Limbourg said late on Thursday, urging the government in Berlin to help.
One spokesperson for the Taliban did not immediately respond to a request for comment while another could not immediately be reached.
Some Afghan journalists say the situation is not yet clear.
“They (the Taliban) assured us that we are safe,” Khushal Asefi, the executive vice-president of Afghan private broadcaster Ariana Radio & Television Network, said.
“For the time being, they are telling we do not have any problem, even female journalists can go to TV, they can do shows,” he told Deutsche Welle (DW) in an interview.
Still, there are reports about Taliban not allowing female journalists on TV, he said, adding he was concerned about the future that was completely uncertain and the Taliban had not yet clarified what their rules for women would be.
“The Taliban have just taken over Kabul recently. But in the future, when the government or system is formed, we will see what restrictions the Taliban will enforce or not,” Asefi said.
Deutsche Welle said the Taliban had raided the homes of at least three of its journalists.
“It is evident that the Taliban are already carrying out organised searches for journalists, both in Kabul and in the provinces. We are running out of time!” Limbourg said, referring to desperate attempts by many Afghans to leave the country.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a closed-door meeting on Monday that Berlin was working on getting its citizens and up to 10,000 Afghans at risk out of the country as soon as possible, according to party sources.
Journalists are targeted around the world, especially in times of upheaval. But the issue is particularly sensitive in Afghanistan, where the Taliban maintained tight control when it was last in power.
The chief of the U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO, on Friday urged the Taliban to safeguard the freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in line with international obligations.
“Access to reliable information and open public debate through free and independent media is essential for Afghans to live in the peaceful society they deserve,” Audrey Azoulay said. “At this critical time, no one should be afraid to speak their mind, and the safety of all journalists, especially women, must be especially guaranteed.”