Over the past two years, the Taliban have persistently carried out targeted killings of former military personnel. Despite proclaiming a general amnesty, within the first six months of their rule, they subjected approximately 500 former Afghan security forces to torture, imprisonment, and enforced disappearance. A joint report by the Hasht-e Subh Daily and The New York Times has meticulously documented these targeted killings and detentions of former military personnel during the Taliban’s initial six months in power. Sanjar Sohail, owner of the Hasht-e Subh Daily and one of the authors of this investigative report, has been honored with the Emmy Award. Mr. Sohail emphasizes that garnering international accolades for an investigative report on the Taliban’s atrocities can redirect global media attention towards Afghanistan’s dire situation, particularly the challenges faced by women and former security and defense personnel under Taliban rule. This recognition has also been embraced by intellectuals, journalists, and women activists who assert that, in the present circumstances, the primary duty of domestic media
Upon taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban declared a general amnesty. According to this decree, former security forces who had fought against this group over the past two decades were also included in the Taliban’s general amnesty. However, the Taliban have failed to uphold their commitment in this regard, as they, within only the first six months of their rule, tortured, detained, killed, or made disappear approximately 500 former military personnel. These details have been documented by Hasht-e Subh Daily and The New York Times.
In the latest development, this investigative report titled “The Taliban Promised Them Amnesty. Then They Executed Them.” has won two Emmy Awards. This investigative report, published by The New York Times in March 2022, seven months after the fall of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the Taliban, exposed targeted killings of former military personnel. The report reveals that during the first six months of their rule, the Taliban killed, tortured, imprisoned, and made disappear 490 former Afghan security forces. These actions continue in various forms and have not ceased yet.
This investigative report was conducted by three journalists in close collaboration with the Hasht-e Subh Daily over six months. It was thoroughly documented and fact-checked and has been published in the opinion section of The New York Times, both as video and text content. Sanjar Sohail, an Afghan journalist and the owner of the Hasht-e Subh Daily, is one of the authors of this investigative report. Mr. Sohail states, “In a time when the global community has closed its eyes and ears on the systematic crimes committed by the Taliban against the people of Afghanistan, particularly women, being nominated for prestigious Emmy Awards for a report on the Taliban’s crimes can once again draw international media’s attention to Afghanistan and the dire situation of women and former security and defense forces under Taliban control.”
He expresses satisfaction that the professional and investigative work of an Afghan journalist, alongside two American journalists, has garnered attention and earned nominations for two Emmy Awards. Mr. Sohail emphasizes that the Hasht-e Subh Daily, as a reputable Afghan media outlet, will continue to be the voice of those silenced under Taliban rule, using all available means to suppress them.
However, some intellectuals and journalists, while welcoming this award, argue that media outlets in the current situation in Afghanistan serve as the only ray of hope for a better future. They believe that more investigative reports should be produced to document the country’s chaotic conditions. Baktash Rawesh, an Afghan journalist, writes, “In the past two years, many reporters from major Western media organizations have visited Kabul, but according to their government’s policies, they have made fewer efforts to document the Taliban’s crimes.”
Mr. Rawesh has added that in the current circumstances, the most crucial mission of domestic media is to focus on investigative reports regarding the crimes and actions that the Taliban commit against the people, violating all human rights standards.
He further stated, “The Hasht-e Subh Daily was the first media outlet that months ago took on the task of addressing this important issue under challenging conditions and limited resources.” This journalist has expressed hope that Afghan media outlets will continue to document the crimes committed by the Taliban in the country.
Jamshid Yama Amiri, another Afghan journalist, has stated that the Hasht-e Subh Daily, under the leadership of Sanjar Sohail, has stood up for human rights values and the freedom of the people, making even greater efforts in this regard than before.
Some protesting women and girls have also welcomed this award. Hoda Khomosh, one of the women protesters, wrote, “We appreciate the efforts made to amplify the voices of women over the past two years, and we remain grateful.”
In response to this investigative report, the Taliban labeled it as “inaccurate and biased.” Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, stated that their militants have no right to seek revenge, despite numerous reports indicating that the Taliban have continued targeted killings of former military personnel. Recent findings by the Hasht-e Subh Daily regarding the situation of former military personnel in Taliban prisons indicate that hanging from ankles, urinating on their faces, and electric shocks are among the most common forms of torture used by the Taliban.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) recently reported that the “Taliban’s behavior towards former security forces” over the past two years has been deemed a “serious crime.” The UNAMA report states that “the Taliban are responsible for extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, and mistreatment of former security forces and personnel of the previous government.”
It’s worth noting that the Emmy Awards are one of the most prestigious awards in the field of journalism in the United States. Reputable American media outlets, journalists, editors, documentarians, investigative reporters, and media managers are nominated for this award.