Authorities in Faizabad, Badakhshan province, shut down the operations of women-led broadcaster Radio Sada e Banowan and sealed its office on March 30.
This action was taken by officers from the Taliban’s Directorate of Information and Culture and Directorate of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, who accused the outlet of illegally airing music during the holy month of Ramadan. The Taliban banned playing and listening to music after retaking power in August 2021.
According to news reports and an employee of the radio station who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisal, the radio station employee was not aware of any music being aired and believed that the decision was retaliation for the station’s programs focusing on women’s education and job opportunities in Badakhshan.
Radio Sada e Banowan was established in 2014 and is owned by Afghan female journalist Najla Shirzad. Local Taliban officials allowed the radio station to restart operations not long after the group retook power. The broadcaster has six employees, according to the person who spoke to CPJ.
CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Beh Lih Yi has called on the Taliban to reverse its decision and allow the outlet to reopen and work freely. The August 2022 special report by CPJ highlighted the media crisis in Afghanistan, which showed a rapid deterioration in press freedom since the Taliban retook control of the country one year earlier, marked by censorship, arrests, assaults, and restrictions on women journalists.
CPJ attempted to contact Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid for comment via messaging app but did not receive any response.