The Taliban on Thursday announced banning the FM radio broadcasts streaming from Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Afghanistan stations claiming that they were stopped for non-compliance with journalistic principles and one-sided broadcasts.
Azadi, meaning “liberty," broadcasts in Dari and Pashto and, since the Taliban takeover last year, has partly dedicated efforts to providing educational programming for girls barred from school.
“Radio Azadi (RL), which started broadcasting after the American occupation, was stopped due to non-compliance with journalistic principles and one-sided broadcasts," Abdul Haq Hammad, who oversees broadcasting for the Ministry of Information and Culture of the incumbent Afghan administration, said.
The Radio Azadi broadcasts have been banned in 13 Afghan provinces.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, funded by the US Congress, confirmed that Azadi was being taken off the AM and FM dials and vowed to expand efforts so Afghans can access the service through other means.
“Azadi is a lifeline for tens of millions of Afghans, making the Taliban’s decision all the more tragic," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Jamie Fly said in a statement.
VOA also reported that a new directive from the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture has placed a ban on VOA’s broadcasts from December 1. According to the radio broadcasts, the ban came a day after the Taliban’s ministry of information and culture said it had received complaints about programming content without sharing any specifics.
It remains unclear whether the ban will also apply to other international broadcasters that have used the same system for FM broadcasts in the Taliban-ruled country.
“Afghanistan has press laws, and any network found repeatedly contravening these laws will have their privilege of reporting from and broadcasting within Afghanistan taken away," Abdul Qahar Balkhi, who looks the Afghan administration’s foreign department, said in written comments to VOA.
“VOA and Azadi Radio failed to adhere to these laws, were found as repeat offenders, failed to show professionalism and were therefore shut down," VOA quoted Balkhi as saying.
Azadi was set up after the United States toppled the Taliban regime following the September 11, 2001 attacks and it closed its physical bureau after the Taliban returned to power last year amid the US pullout.
Azadi has kept operating from outside Afghanistan including through programming for girls from ages seven to 12 and coverage of the plight under the Taliban of women and girls and the LGBTQ community.
(With inputs from AFP)
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