Reflecting on Two Years of Stifling: August 15 Marks the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Media in Afghanistan

Germany [Frakfurt]

Two years have passed since the fall of freedom of expression and media in Afghanistan. The collapse of the Islamic Republic in Afghanistan on the 15th of August, 2021 AD, corresponding to the 24th of Assad 1400 AH, resulted in the loss of international values and human rights, freedom of expression, media independence, and access to information in the country. In essence, the painful downfall of the republic has also led to the destruction of important and fundamental rights of citizens.

In the past two years, Afghanistan has transformed into a very dark territory. Journalists and media activists – particularly female journalists – were the first victims of the changing regime in Afghanistan.

During the Taliban’s rule, all the achievements of the past 20 years in the field of media have been lost one after another. Most journalists were forced to leave the country under difficult circumstances, and those who remained in the country gradually lost their jobs and their basic human rights. Exiled journalists, while grappling with migration challenges abroad, also face increasing pressures and restrictions on the existing domestic media outlets.

It seems that freedom of expression and media are breathing their last breath with a sense of impact and regret, as concealing the ongoing tragedy in Afghanistan and the region might be one of the hidden agendas of this ambiguous deal. Every day, we hear news of killings, incidents, explosions, abductions, torture, and conflicts in Afghanistan, but the Taliban are making serious efforts to keep all of these hidden. In terms of international communication, Afghanistan is becoming a darker region for its citizens. Issues like the recent deadly explosion on Tuesday in Kabul are recurring, leaving the people unaware of the Hows and Whys. Everything is obscure and mysterious. After the withdrawal of foreign forces, no one knows who, by whom, why, and how innocent people are being killed, and what other reason remains for the slaughter of innocent people. The people are still falling victim to the power hunger and political agendas of the tyrants of the century, with no platform to voice their pains and suffering.

In the past twenty years, despite the challenges in political and administrative spheres, freedom of expression, media diversity, the presence of civil society, and particularly the participation of women in all these areas were considered historical and significant achievements for the Afghan nation. The responses of civil activists and women’s protests against tyranny and the undermining of women’s rights and freedoms in the past two years could be a turning point for preserving past accomplishments.

The Afghanistan Journalists Support Organization (AJSO) has been formed to protect these values and preserve commitment, expertise, and the experience of working in media and the journalism profession in Afghanistan, both within the country and in exile.

We aspire for Afghanistan to return to an independent, national, lawful, and legitimate democratic system as soon as possible. International cooperating communities are engaging with this organization toward this goal. On the eve of two years of ignorance and darkness, we once again announce our commitment, intention, and hope, to ensure that freedom of expression and media will not be eradicated in Afghanistan. We will continue to support the people and our colleagues in this endeavor. It is hoped that freedom of expression will remain eternal and that the voice of the Afghan people will resonate through the media, as advocates for human rights values.

Afghanistan Journalists Support Organization!