Afghan women-run radio Sadai Banowan resumes broadcasts after shutdown by Taliban

Sadai Banowan resumes broadcasting after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during Ramadan
Sadai Banowan resumes broadcasting after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during Ramadan Copyright AP
By David MouriquandAP
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A women-run radio station in northeastern Afghanistan has resumed its broadcasts, after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan

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A women-run radio station in north-eastern Afghanistan has resumed its broadcasts, after officials shut it down for a week for playing music during the holy month of Ramadan, a Taliban official and the head of the station said Friday.

Sadai Banowan, which means “women’s voice” in Dari, was launched 10 years ago in Badakhshan province and is Afghanistan’s only women-run radio station. Six of its eight staff members are women.

Moezuddin Ahmadi, the director for Information and Culture in Badakhshan, said the station was allowed to resume activities on Thursday (6 April) after it had obeyed the “laws and regulations of the Islamic Emirate” and agreed to stop broadcasting any kind of music.

Ahmadi had previously stated that “if this radio station accepts the policy of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and gives a guarantee that it will not repeat such a thing again, we will allow it to operate again.”

Station head Najia Sorosh Had denied there was any violation, saying there was no need for the closure and called it a conspiracy. The Taliban “told us that you have broadcast music. We have not broadcast any kind of music,” she said. However, they started broadcasting again after the station “gave a commitment to officials at the information and culture department, they unlocked the door of the station.”

AP
Najia Sorosh - head of Sadai BanowanAP
AP
Najia Sorosh (left) speaks into a microphone in the broadcasting studio in Badakhshan provinceAP

The Afghan Journalist Safety Committee, an Afghan watchdog organization that promotes the safety of journalists and press freedom and which was involved in mediation for the station's reopening, welcomed the resumption of broadcasts.

“Following AJSC’s advocacy efforts, Sadai Banowan radio resumed its broadcasts,” it said in a tweet.

Representatives from the Ministry of Information and Culture and the Vice and Virtue Directorate had shut down the station a week earlier.

Many journalists lost their jobs after the Taliban takeover in August 2021. Media outlets closed over a lack of funds or because staff left the country, according to the Afghan Independent Journalists Association.

The Taliban have barred women from most forms of employment and education beyond the sixth grade, including university. There is no official ban on music. Local Afghan journalists who refuse to comply with the Taliban’s policies have been arrested, with some reporting abuse and torture after their release.

During their previous rule in the late 1990s, the Taliban barred most television, radio and newspapers in the country.

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