March 07, 2016
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) while condemning the attacks against media at the Hyderabad Press Club, and in Lahore and Karachi on March 4 has demanded an investigation into the incidents and swift action from the Pakistani government to secure the media environment in the country.
Protests, rallies and sit-ins were held across Pakistan against the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer on March 4. In Hyderabad, Jamiat-i-Ulema Pakistan (JUP) and Pakistan Sunni Tehreek organized rallies outside the Hyderabad Press Club. During the rally, demonstrators stormed the press club premises, attacking staff and members, ransacking the offices and torching a number of motorcycles. A number of members had to jump walls and fences to escape the attack.
Press Club president, Ali Ahmed was beaten up during the attack, while a cameraman from 92-News Qasim fractured his leg and several others were also injured trying to protect the premises. Several calls were made to police, however, no officers attended.
In Lahore, rallies held near Anarkali turned violent to the media, with DSNG vans of Abb Takk and Aaj News channel damaged. The offices of Aaj News were also vandalized. A number of media workers were also attacked, including PFUJ Lahore-based leader, Rana Azeem, who sustained injuries that required hospital treatment. The protesters allegedly targeted the media for not covering the funeral of Qadri, following his execution on March 2.
There were also reports of attacks against media workers and equipment in Karachi, and Faisalabad.
PFUJ president Rana Azeem and secretary general Amin Yousuf said: “It is highly unfair to attack journalists. Journalists, cameramen and photographer are not responsible for any type of censorship.”
PFUJ said that PEMRA and the government were responsible for the attack on working journalists. They blacked out the coverage of the protesters in the media while the working journalists were being harshly beaten by the protesters. PFUJ regretted that PEMRA chairman and the government had not taken any steps to provide security to working journalists.
IFJ said: “The situation facing the media in Pakistan continues to raise serious concerns for the local and international media community. The continued and systematic attacks on the media across Pakistan are only further weakening the media environment and press freedom in the country, and creating unstable working conditions for journalists. The failure of the authorities to take action and address entrenched culture of violence continues to enable future attacks.” - IFJ
Photo cpation: The damaged Hyderabad Press Club. - Photo by Amin Yousuf
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