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Press paralyzed as no newspaper on Kabul stands month after Taliban arrival

Until the fall of the government, there were around twenty newspapers available in the Afghan capital alone, but “today you can’t find even one”

KABUL: No newspaper has circulated in Kabul since over a month ago the Taliban took control of the country, and with their extinction the independent media are also beginning to disappear, one of the greatest achievements in the last 20 years after the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.

Until the fall of the government, there were around twenty newspapers available only in the Afghan capital, but “nowadays you cannot even find a newspaper,” with printing paralyzed for the last month, Nasir Noori, director of Nai , an independent Afghan observatory for the free press, told Efe. Overall, a total of 150 of the 500 media outlets, including television and radio stations and news agencies, have closed in the past month, according to Nai.

“The space for independent press and freedom of expression is shrinking day by day, if the international community and the Taliban do not pay attention, the remaining media will also collapse or shut down,” he said.

“Security and financial problems, the safety of journalists and other reasons deteriorated the situation … The media and journalists are going through their worst moments in the last 20 years,” Noori warned.

In addition to this, are the problems of access to information, since today experts, analysts and even ordinary people “are not willing to speak (…) due to threats.”

NEWSPAPERS

Among these media is the Afghanistan Times:

Afghanistan Times newsroom, which is closed now for a month in Kabul, 17/Sept/2021

“We have not printed or distributed our newspaper in the last month, especially since the day the government collapsed and the Taliban arrived in Kabul” on August 15, Nangialay Shahryar, a member of the Afghanistan Times Executive Board, told EFE.

The newspaper, which was established in 2006, distributed between 3,000 and 5,000 copies a day in twelve color and black-and-white pages, with news on political affairs, daily life, the world of entertainment or sports, among other topics.

“This is the first time in the last 15 years that we have ceased operations for such a long time,” he revealed.

The decision has been forced by “unstable security, fear among staff, uncertainty, financial problems and the uncertain policy of the Taliban towards the print media,” he explained.

The newspaper, which used to be financed by subscriptions and advertising, was distributed daily to major government offices, including the presidential palace, embassies, foreign NGOs, and private offices.

“Now we have no source of income, there is no advertising and most of the foreign offices that were our subscribers are now closed. We have sent 35 of our 40 employees home and currently only five employees are working for our Twitter and website. “, he recounted.

Even if they had the resources, most employees are psychologically unprepared to go to work due to constant uncertainty.

“We still do not know the policy of the Taliban towards the print media, the journalists who covered the protests in the city a few days ago were brutally beaten, so in general the atmosphere is one of fear and uncertainty,” one the Times’ journalists told Efe.

Afghanistan Times Printing Press, which is closed for the past one month. 17/ Sept/2021

EXODUS OF JOURNALISTS:

Many media are also facing a lack of employees, since hundreds of journalists and other professionals were part of the Afghan community that left the country with international evacuations due to the possible security threats.

Women journalists are among the most vulnerable members of the journalism community, and many have left their jobs.

According to a Reporters Without Borders (RSF) report published at the end of last month, the number of female journalists who formally worked at radio and television stations in the Afghan capital decreased from 700 in 2020 to less than a hundred since the seizure of the power by the Taliban on August 15.

The state-run Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) had 140 female journalists as of mid-August, but now none of them dares to return to their jobs, as the outlet is under the control of the Taliban, according to RSF.

Zan and Bano, the two television channels aimed at female audiences, have completely ceased their activity since the arrival of the Taliban.

With the memory of Afghanistan two decades ago, when the Taliban harshly repressed the sector, today television channels and radio stations have mostly stopped broadcasting music and entertainment programs, and are limited to the dissemination of political, social and religious programs.

From Efe News Agency

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