Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August this year, freedom of expression and many basic human rights are under dire attack. While some writers and journalists have managed to flee the country, others remain, unable to publish their work, some in fear of their lives.
The Taliban government recently published new media guidelines that seek to reimpose their ultra-conservative views on Sharia across Afghan civil society. They include: the prohibition of drama series with female actors and the forbidding of any comedy or satirical program that may cause humiliation or insult. Community radio stations that previously broadcast news now only play religious content.
A pervasive sense of fear has spread across the country after a spate of reprisal killings of intellectuals, university students, civil society activists and anyone associated with the previous government. Early in November, the bodies of four women were found in the northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif, including one of the city’s most high-profile women’s rights activists, Frozan Safi. Afghanistan’s fragile civic space has been shattered.
Support PEN Afghanistan members
Writers, poets and journalists have played a vital role in the cultural life of the country before August this year. Now they need your help.
In Afghanistan your donations will support women journalists who can no longer work, poets and writers who are in hiding, fearing imprisonment or execution for their previous writing. Outside the country it will aid those who are on temporary protection visas who are struggling to find work and settle, facing an uncertain future.
PEN Perth and PEN Melbourne have joined PEN Sydney in this appeal.
To make a donation directly to PEN Sydney, please use the following PEN Sydney account details and mark payments ‘Afghan Writers Appeal 2021’.
Account: 16 171 3570