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Taliban beat Afghan journalists painfully for protests coverage

As Taliban beat two Afghan journalist severely for covering protests, many have raised questions on their manner of controlling dissent and deem their promises of being tolerant and moderate as empty words.

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Taliban beat two Afghan journalists on Wednesday for covering protests by women who were objecting the announcement of the new Afghan government. As the Taliban beat and detain these two journalist leaving them bruised and distraught has led many to question the credibility of their words that they are softer and moderate than before.

The grotesque sight of these two media people injured with ugly welts and bruises after being beaten and detained for hours by Taliban enforcers paint a grim picture of the Taliban rule and how severely they would control dissent and freedom of speech.

Taliban beat Afghan journalists harshly

Naqdi and his colleague Taqi Daryabi, a reporter, who both work for Etilaat Roz (Information Daily) had been assigned to cover a small protest in front of a police station in Kabul by women demanding the right to work and education.

Read more: Women in Afghanistan banned from cricket, sports

The pair were picked up at a demonstration on Wednesday and taken to a police station in Kabul, where they say they were punched and beaten with batons, electrical cables and whips after being accused of organizing the protest.

“One of the Taliban put his foot on my head, crushed my face against the concrete. They kicked me in the head… I thought they were going to kill me,” photographer Nematullah Naqdi told AFP.

Such act highlights that despite promises of a more inclusive and tolerant regime, the Taliban are controlling voices of dissent with brutality and violence. This approach as analysts claim will beget more violence.

On Wednesday night they declared demonstrations illegal unless permission had been granted by the justice ministry.

Read more: Taliban admit killing Afghan comedian beaten in viral video

Afghan journalists tell how Taliban had beaten them

Naqdi said he was accosted by a Taliban fighter as soon as he started taking pictures.

“They told me ‘You cannot film’,” he said.

“They arrested all those who were filming and took their phones,” he told AFP.

Naqdi said the Taliban tried to grab his camera, but he managed to hand it to someone in the crowd.

Three Taliban fighters caught him, however, and took him to the police station where the beatings started.

Taliban officials have not responded to repeated requests for confirmation.

Taliban perceive journalists as enemies, lament the distraught

“The Taliban started insulting me, kicking me,” said Naqdi, adding that he was accused of being the organiser of the rally.

He asked why he was being beaten, only to be told: “You are lucky you weren’t beheaded”.

Naqdi was eventually taken to a crowded cell where he found his colleague, Daryabi, who had also been arrested and beaten.

“We were in so much pain that we couldn’t move,” Daryabi said.

A few hours later the pair were released without explanation — sent on their way with a string of insults.

“They see us as enemies,” Taqi said.

Read more: Music falls silent as Taliban coerce their rule in Afghanistan

Has Taliban remained true to their words?

The Taliban have claimed they will uphold press freedoms which are in line with Islamic principles and not anti-state. However journalists are increasingly being harassed covering protests across the country which is their job.

In recent days, dozens of journalists have reported being beaten, detained or prevented from covering the protests, a show of resistance unthinkable under the Taliban’s last regime in the 1990s.

Most are Afghan journalists, whom the Taliban harass more than the foreign media.

The protests are proving an early test for the Taliban, who after taking power on August 15 promised a more tolerant rule and to work for “the peace and prosperity of the country”.

Zaki Daryabi, chief of the Etilaat Roz newspaper, said the Taliban’s words rang hollow.

“This official speech is totally different from the reality that can be observed on the ground,” he added which raise questions that can Taliban be trusted by their words and assurances.

Read more: How the Taliban have evolved through the years

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