Pakistan’s New Low: Child Brother Of Slain Journalist Killed, Missing Journalist Tortured

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is stunned and sickened by the murder of Bashir, the child brother of slain journalist Hayatullah Khan, and news of the brutal torture of missing senior journalist Saeed Sarbazi.

According to the IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), it appears Bashir's murder was a message to his family, who had been active in trying to expose Khan’s killers. Bashir Kahn is the second child in a month apparently murdered to target a journalist or a journalist’s relatives.

However, no charges have been laid in Khan’s kidnapping and murder case, and the government is still refusing to release the judicial report on the case.

“The government has been worryingly inactive in the case of Khan, and this inaction has allowed a further atrocity to occur with the murder of his younger brother,” said IFJ President Christopher Warren.

“We are writing to President Musharraf today to demand immediate action to prevent relatives of journalists being attacked and killed as a sickening way of silencing journalists,” he said.

“Our thoughts go out to the grieving family of Hayatullah and little Bashir Khan,” Warren said.

Last month the 16-year-old brother of BBC correspondent Dilawar Khan was killed apparently because of Dilawar's reporting.

“These latest attacks on children who are relatives of journalists have pushed the safety situation in Pakistan to a new low,” Warren said. “While the IFJ is deeply concerned at how frighteningly common is has become for journalists in Pakistan to be violently targeted for their work, we are even more alarmed at the disturbing new trend emerging where journalists’ family members, particularly children, are being targeted.”

The IFJ is also shocked and disgusted by the reported torture of Saeed Sarbazi, joint secretary of the Karachi Press Club, senior Sub-Editor of the daily Business Recorder and a member of the All Pakistan  Newspapers Employees Confederation’s National Executive Committee, who was returned late in the evening of Friday September 22 after disappearing on September 20.

According to the PFUJ, Sarbazi was abducted by intelligence agencies, beaten and kicked until unconscious, called a terrorist and criminal despite identifying himself as a journalist, blindfolded for over 50 hours and not allowed to eat or sleep.

“This inhumane treatment is disgusting: to brutally torture a journalist in such a cruel way is beyond unacceptable and immediate action must be taken to find the perpetrators of this horrendous attack,” Warren said. “The IFJ strongly urges the government of Pakistan to act immediately on this case and to fight the culture of impunity that seems to be developing in Pakistan.”

“Following months of beatings, murders and assaults, the torture of a well-respected senior journalist and the callous murder of a journalist’s brother indicates Pakistan is slipping further away from a free and open society and the government can no longer remain idle on these terrible crimes,” Warren said.

The IFJ, as the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, is writing to the president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, to protest the disturbing new low for safety in Pakistan and the culture of impunity that has developed for those who murder, attack, threaten or harm journalists and their families.

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

The IFJ represents more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries