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Taliban uphold their rule with vengeance, veteran correspondent warns

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Another Taliban intelligence official accused her of “planning to provoke the extremist group” to arrest her or take other measures against her to cause trouble.

O’Donnell had returned to Kabul on July 16 to see first-hand how the Taliban rule had reshaped the country since the group regained power last August.

She was on the ground when the US-led invasion ousted the Taliban in 2001, and until the final hours before the group returned to power last year. Between 2009 and 2017, she was also head of The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse bureaus.

Leading up to and immediately after the US and West’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan, Taliban leaders claimed they had been moderate since their first time in power in the 1990s.

The country has been in economic, political and social turmoil ever since, as many foreign financiers left. Aid agencies have warned that millions are starving and possibly starving.

Meanwhile, the Taliban have imposed draconian restrictions on the rights of women and girls — forbidding them to work or leaving home for no reason and forcing them to wear an all-encompassing burqa.

O’Donnell focused her criticism on the Taliban and their rule, in addition to how they treated her.

“They’re braver, they’re vindictive, they look for people by name, by category: journalist, women’s rights activist… They come after people,” she said in the interview. “They weren’t like that last time.”

O’Donnell’s allegations have raised concerns among international press rights groups, with the Committee to Protect Journalists issuing a statement calling on the Taliban to end their “campaign of harassment and abuse” against journalists from Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“The Taliban should apologize to Lynne O’Donnell for her treatment in the country and allow all journalists to work fearlessly,” program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in a statement. pronunciation.

The episode also highlights the deteriorating state of press freedom in the country in the first year of the Taliban’s return to power.

“O’Donnell’s story suggests that it is becoming increasingly dangerous for journalists, especially female reporters, to report on human rights abuses in Afghanistan, especially those committed against women,” said Karima Bennoune, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School. and a former United Nations Special Rapporteur.

“The Taliban clearly have no understanding of freedom of expression, including for journalists, and believe they can use coercion to prevent news of their gross abuses from getting around.”

A study on Afghanistan conducted by Reporters without Borders, or RSF, in December found a total of 231 media outlets had to close, while more than 6,400 journalists have lost their jobs since August 15, 2021. Among Afghan female journalists, 4 out of 5 were out of work Lake.

A UN report early this month also found that six journalists had been killed, including five by self-identified Islamic State militants and one by unknown assailants.

“Over the past 10 months, RSF has recorded several abuses against foreign journalists, especially in the first months after August 15. But this is the first time we hear about the arrest and threats of jail time or pressure to repent,” RSF spokesman Pauline Adès – said Mevel.

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