Journalist Missing In Pakistan, Countrywide Protests Held For The Murder Of Khan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is deeply concerned at news of another Pakistani journalist’s disappearance, as rallies to protest the murder of journalist Hayatullah Khan were held across the country on June 19.

“The situation for journalists in Pakistan, particularly in the area of Sindh, seems to be deteriorating and the IFJ urges authorities to firmly address the dangers by providing security for journalists and harsh penalties for those who attack media workers,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.

Geo News reporter Mukesh Rupeta, and correspondent for Jacobabad, Sindh, has reportedly been missing since March 6 and his whereabouts are unknown.

According to a spokesperson from Geo News, the only reports regarding Rupeta was that he was detained by authorities for allegedly videoing the Jacobabad airbase, in Sindh.

No official investigation into these allegations has been made, and Geo Television reports it has been unable to contact Rupeta since March, which has greatly concerned his family and colleagues.

The IFJ calls on authorities to investigative Rupeta’s disappearance and to swiftly respond to concerns about his whereabouts.

The news of Rupeta’s disappearance comes as rallies supported by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation (APNEC), were held across the country on June 19 to protest the murder of abducted journalist Khan, whose body was recovered on June 16.

According to the Khyber Union of Journalists, Khan was abducted in December 2005 after filing a photograph of a missile that had killed Syrian militant Abu Hamza Rabia, which contradicted claims from Pakistan authorities that Rabia was killed in an explosion.

The Khyber Union of Journalists report that during Khan’s detention, government authorities advised Khan’s brother to not to make an issue of the abduction and told him that Khan would return by June 15. His body was recovered on June 16.

Journalists held demonstrations in Peshawar, Quetta, Faislabad and in various Sindh cities, and journalists in Karachi boycotted the Sindh Assembly, where they demanded security and protection and condemned the murders of Hayatullah Khan and Munir Sangi and other attacks on journalists. The PFUJ also reports that police attacked a procession of journalists in Gotki, who were protesting the increasing violence against journalists.

The PFUJ has demanded the lifting of an "unofficial ban" on the entry of journalists into conflict areas like Wazirstan and Dera Bugti, and appealed to newspaper and television organisations to provide life insurance for their reporters, photographers and camera people.

“The Pakistani government must ensure the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes are brought to justice, and launch a full investigation into the disappearance of Rupeta,” IFJ president Christopher Warren said.

“Stronger measures must be taken across the board to ensure the safety and independence of journalists and put a stop, once and for all, to these ruthless and senseless attacks.”

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 110 countries