On the fifteenth of August 2021, Afghan journalist Zahra Joya was at her office, planning the day’s news coverage for her media organisation, Rukhshana.
It had started like any other day, speaking to the network of female reporters she manages across the country – but it was, very quickly, all set to change. Within hours, the Taliban’s white flags lined the streets and women were forced back inside their homes.
What Zahra and her team at Rukhshana had struggled so hard against was, she felt, about to become a bigger fight. Rukhshana, the first female-led media outlet in Afghanistan, is openly critical of the Taliban, recording attacks on women in public life – and now, it was in the firing line.
Here, in episode 7 of ‘Silenced’, Zahra describes the day the Taliban took over, being airlifted to safety and what it’s like leading a remote team of women journalists while living in exile.
Listen to other episodes of ‘Silenced’
For the launch of ‘Silenced’, Nicola Kelly spoke to Richard Ratcliffe, campaigner and husband of British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, in one of the last interviews before his wife’s release.
Episode 2: Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk describes the threats facing journalists covering the invasion; efforts to ensure a free media space and get impartial information out to the world.
Episode 3: Nicola Kelly interviews Maria Baronova, until recently Editor of ‘RT’ (formerly ‘Russia Today’) about her years as a well-known opposition activist and the threats, intimidation and attacks she faced.
Episode 4: Nicola Kelly speaks to journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia about the day his mother Daphne was murdered, his fight for justice, and his determination to continue her work exposing corruption among some of Malta’s most powerful individuals.
Episode 5: Six months after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Iyad el-Baghdadi, a prominent writer and a friend of Khashoggi, was informed by the Norwegian Security services that there was a credible threat to his life. He describes what happened and how his life has changed since then.
Episode 6: When Sergio Aguayo, a renowned academic and journalist, wrote an opinion piece accusing a former state governor of corruption and links to organised crime groups, he found himself embroiled in a case that rumbled on for more than six years. He speaks to Nicola Kelly about experiencing multiple threats and intimidation during that time, and about living under full police protection since.
Episode 8: In the last episode of ‘Silenced’, Nicola speaks to Alex Chow, one of the most prominent leaders of Hong Kong’s Umbrella movement. Here he describes his involvement in the fight for democracy in Hong Kong, and the struggles he has endured in his personal life as a result.
‘Silenced’ is hosted by human rights journalist Nicola Kelly and produced by Christopher Hooton at Ziggurat Studio. Music is by Julian Wharton and sound design by Rick Morris.