The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned growing violence against media workers in Pakistan after a series of incidents across the country, including the murder of abducted senior journalist Hayatullah Khan.
In the southern province of Sindh alone there have been six separate acts of violence against journalists in the last month, according to an IFJ affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
“This recent spate of ruthless and senseless attacks against media workers is appalling, and demonstrates a decline in press freedom in Pakistan,” said IFJ president, Christopher Warren.
The PFUJ, along with the All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation, has declared a “Black Day” of protest on June 19 in response to the violence.
Hayatullah Khan found murdered
Khan’s body was discovered on Friday June 16, six months after his abduction, the PFUJ reports.
He was allegedly abducted after reporting on an explosion that killed senior Al Qaeda member, Maza Rabia.
According to the PFUJ, demands on the Pakistani government to investigate Khan’s disappearance went unheeded and this inaction has resulted in his brutal murder.
The IFJ supports the PFUJ’s call for an independent investigation and their demand for improved security for journalists.
Six media workers attacked at Thari Mirwah Press Club
On June 14, about 50 individuals reportedly attacked six news workers at the Thari Mirwah Press Club, punching, kicking and beating the press with sticks.
The attack was allegedly in response to a story on contractors’ use of unsatisfactory material in the construction of irrigation watercourses.
Two journalists threatened by Jirga leaders
Sarmad Kanrani, of the Daily Ibrat and Mubarak Bhatti of the daily Koshish and KTN TV were threatened on June 15 after reporting on the decision of the Jirga (an illegal tribal council) to marry five female minors to a rival tribe to settle a murder dispute.
A leading Jirga member allegedly destroyed the SINDH TV bureau office in Jacobobabad on June 14 saying that if he did not stop reporting on the Jirga there would be dire consequences.
An office worker, Ali Nawaz was also reportedly badly beaten in the attack.
Kawaish correspondent shot
Two unidentified gunmen opened fire on Paryal Deyo, correspondent of Kawaish and president of the Pano Aqil Press Club, seriously injuring him.
The PFUJ has condemned the attack and demanded the arrest of a police official suspected in the case.
These latest attacks come less than a month after the murder of Munir Ahmed Sangi, cameraman for the Sindhi-language Kawaish Television Network whose death was also linked with tribal disputes and reports of Jirga held in Larkana.
“The rising incidence of violence in Pakistan will not be tolerated. The press cannot function democratically when under constant threat,” Warren said.
“The IFJ fully supports the Pakistani media workers in their protests against increasing violence against them, and calls on the authorities to ensure those responsible for these attacks on press freedom are brought to justice.”
For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries