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No newspapers in Kabul, global body laments shrinking space for press freedom in Afghanistan

NJ Thakuria

NJ ThakuriaOct 02, 2021, 04:01 PM IST

No newspapers in Kabul, global body laments shrinking space for press freedom in Afghanistan

A group of around 150 Afghan journalists urged the United Nations and other international groups to ensure their protection with the backdrop of threats issued by the Taliban militants.

 

Guwahati: Lamenting over missing of newspapers from the stands in Kabul and most parts of Afghanistan as media managements have shifted to online space after the arrival of Taliban forces in the capital city, a global media rights body, also expressed serious concern on the growing security threats for professional journalists in the southeast Asian country.

The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), in a media statement, called upon the United Nations to urge the new government in Kabul to respect press freedom and the safety of journalists. It apprehended that if the international community and the Taliban do not pay due attention, the remaining Afghan media will also collapse very soon.

According to local media outlets, the press has been paralysed, particularly in Kabul, which is under the grip of the Taliban once again
after the fall of President Ashraf Ghani's government on 15 August 2021. Before their advent, the ancient city used to witness a number
of newspapers and other media outlets which surfaced in the last two decades to cater for the need of readers, listeners and viewers.

Renamed by the Taliban as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the country with around 6,52,864 square kilometre area is predominately mountainous with a few valleys in the north and southwest parts. It has a nearly 40 million population. Almost 99% of them are Muslims.

Various ethnic groups like Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkmen, Baloch, etc., use their dialects where Pashto and Dari are recognised as official languages.

"Overall, a total of 150 newspapers/magazines out of 500 media outlets including television & radio channels and news agencies have closed in the past month. The space for independent press and freedom of expression is shrinking day by day," said a report in Afghanistan Times, which has temporarily ceased its printing, adding that the Afghan media and journalist fraternity are going through their worst time in the last 20 years, and many of them have fled their nation.

"Kabul alone had around 20 newspapers available to readers in English and local languages before the arrival of Taliban forces. Now the media persons are under severe security threats and financial crisis as most of the foreign governments & non-government offices have abandoned the country and their potential supporters have also disappeared," said PEC General secretary Blaise Lempen.

Recently, a group of around 150 Afghan journalists urged the United Nations and other international groups to ensure their protection with the backdrop of threats issued by the Taliban militants. Speaking to the PEC recently, a native Afghan journalist revealed that the media the fraternity has lost its female members as the Taliban regime is understood to maintain its harsh policy towards the women journalists all along.

The safety & security of scribes and overall financial problems have deteriorated the situation there. However, the freedom of expression of Afghan journalists who fled the country in August is also limited.

Another Afghan journalist, who has found refuge in Belgium during August commented, "Due to the risks for my colleagues, who are still in Afghanistan, I can't talk or write my own story now, probably another time, when they are also out of the country or at least there
is no high risk for them."
 

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