November 7, 2023
An Afghan journalist compared being sent back to a life-and-death situation.
“A forced return to Afghanistan would be tantamount to sending us to the slaughterhouse,” said a journalist who had come to Pakistan in September 2022 on condition of anonymity. He fled after a foreign TV channel he worked for broadcast a report that went against the Taliban authorities who later threatened him for it.
Even in Pakistan, despite his temporary residence permit, he is being harassed by the police.
“I am being prosecuted in my country on charges of spying for foreign media, sabotage and negative propaganda, as well as supporting women’s rights. Death awaits me there.”
Another journalist said that he had to flee to Pakistan in July 2022, after covering stories involving Taliban violence, especially against women and girls. He was told at the last minute that an armed group was planning to kill him.
“I had to leave my country in order to stay alive. After i left some of my family members were arrested. now if i return they will kill me.”
Another journalist said that he was arrested and tortured by Taliban twice in Afghanistan, after Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021.
“In January 2022, my former torturers located my new home and inflicted serious injuries to my head and neck. I managed to escape in March 2022 after several weeks in hiding. But If the Pakistani police deport me, my life will be in great danger.”
When Pakistani intelligence officials detained one other journalist for five hours and searched his phone and emails, he suddenly felt the weight of the pressure.
Before fleeing to Pakistan in June 2022, he was based in northern Afghanistan but had been threatened and arrested several times by the Taliban.
In his interview, he said that he now feels his daily existence becoming more and more unbearable, no longer daring to leave home. His two children cannot go to school, his wife is showing increasing signs of psychological stress, and the owner of the building where they are living recently told them they have to leave.
“I implore the countries that are known to take refugees to provide their help now to those of us who are in danger. I ask them to take action and to rescue us. In my country, I risk being killed. There is only a short time left before the actual expulsion of undocumented Afghans begins.”