Afghan journalist killed in shooting global media rights body laments shrinking space for press freedom in Afghanistan

 Guwahati: Condoling the demise of Afghan journalist Sayyed Marof Saadat in a shooting incident on 2 October the Geneva-based global media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) lamented over missing newspapers from the stands across Afghanistan as most of the media managements shifted to online space after the arrival of the Taliban forces in the capital city of Kabul.

Expressing serious concern on the growing security threats for professional journalists in the southeast Asian country, the PEC calls
upon the United Nations and the international community to urge the new government in Kabul to respect press freedom and the safety of journalists.

It may be mentioned that Afghan scribe Saadat was travelling along with others in a vehicle towards Jalalabad city on Saturday evening when the miscreants targeted them with bullets. The incident took place in the Nangarhar locality of Afghanistan, where two other people also died, and a few others were injured.

Meanwhile, the press has been paralyzed, 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. Before their advent, the ancient city witnessed several newspapers and other media outlets that surfaced in the last two decades to cater to the need of readers, listeners, and viewers.

"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, adding that the safety & security of scribes and overall financial problems have deteriorated the situation.

The Afghan media and journalist fraternity are going through the worst time in the last 20 years, and many have fled their nation. If the international community and the Taliban do not pay attention, the remaining media will also collapse very soon.

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

The freedom of expression of Afghan journalists who fled the country in August is also limited, said an Afghan journalist who has found refuge in Belgium during August. Talking to the PEC, he 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 risks for them."



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