By Rasoul Shahzad – DID Press Agency
Although many national and international organizations operate under the guise of supporting the media and journalists in Afghanistan, today it is the journalists who are being misused and sold
Freedom of expression and press freedom were the achievements of the last two decades, but with the fall of Kabul, media outlets and journalists experienced many ups and downs. During the past three months, several media outlets in Afghanistan have ceased operations and many journalists have lost their jobs.
Although many national and international organizations operate under the guise of supporting the media and journalists in Afghanistan, today it is the journalists who are being misused and sold.
DID Press Agency interviewed Samim Forough Faizi, the spokesman of the Afghanistan Media Organization – which declared existence on 25 November 2021 in Kabul – about the media status in the country.
DID: What is the need to establish an Afghanistan media organization in the current situation?
Faizi: Afghanistan Media Organization was established at a time when the situation of media and journalists in the country is fragile. We, a group of journalists, came together to support real media and journalists. To gather them under a single umbrella and to have a specific address for Afghan journalists.
DID: Many organizations were operating under the name of supporting journalists. Was there a need to establish another one?
Faizi: In critical times, these organizations or institutions had to stay with the journalists and support them as a voice of freedom of expression, but they took advantage of the situation to flee and left the journalists alone. A group of journalists gathered at the Afghanistan Media Organization to have a specific address and to fight against those entities which misuse the names of journalists. On the one hand, we can communicate with the de facto government and, on the other hand, we can be in contact with the international institutions, supporting the media and journalists.
DID: Does Afghanistan Media Organization has any achievements regarding the misuse of journalists’ identities? If yes, who misused journalists’ identities?
Faizi: We are currently working on a database to list journalists from across the country to identify and support real journalists. Afghanistan Media Organization has been established to prevent the misuse of journalists’ names and identities in the country. When we shared the problems and challenges of journalists with the international organizations, they promised us those who left Afghanistan in the name of journalists and live in camps are just guests and will be returned to Afghanistan through a transparent process after reviewing their documents. Many institutions were working under the name of supporting journalists in the country, but none of them solved the problems of journalists. They took thousands of projects in the name of journalists, and now that journalists need support, they turned their backs and fled. As Afghanistan Media Organization was formed by journalists, it decides to have a meeting with those institutions and ask them what they did for the journalists.
DID: With the collapse of the country, the threat against journalists intensified. Can you explain what is the biggest threat to being a journalist in Afghanistan?
Faizi: We established this organization to provide better services to journalists, and gather journalists under one roof. We are still trying to talk to the current government about the right of access to information and the problems facing journalists so that no one can disturb journalists anywhere in the country. The de facto officials assured that journalists can cover all events by observing Islamic and Afghan culture. Also, female journalists can be employed by observing the Islamic hijab.
DID: In which provinces did journalists face serious problems after the fall of Afghanistan?
Faizi: One of our colleagues in Mazar-e-Sharif came across a Taliban checkpoint, they checked his phone and arrested him after finding contents against the “Islamic Emirate” and for the National Resistance on his Facebook page. When we were informed, we acted immediately and solved the problem.
DID: Can you clearly say in which provinces there are restrictions against journalists?
Faizi: The situation in the country changed and the political changes affected all areas. The media, as the eyes and ears of society, has been moving downwards. The media faces many problems. The Taliban members’ lack of awareness on how to deal with journalists is an issue of great concern. We have decided to hold an awareness program for the Taliban members in several provinces. So, we spoke with some “Islamic Emirate” officials, they have pledged that there was no problem with the right to access information and that the media can freely criticize the government and continue to operate.
DID: Hasn’t the eight-article regulations of the Islamic Emirate restricted the media?
Faizi: We have discussed the issue with the spokesman of the Taliban’s Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, telling them that if the media outlets in Afghanistan act against these guidelines, will they face a serious reaction from the “Islamic Emirate”? The spokesman said the new regulations are not mandatory, it is just a request from the media to publish their contents according to the Islamic framework and Afghan cultures.
DID: Thank you for your time!
Faizi: Thank you!