Federation of Journalists (IFJ) stands with journalists in Pakistan as
they hold two days of mourning for their colleague Syed Saleem Shahzad and
prepare for country-wide rallies on June 3 to express their outrage at his
Journalists’ unions affiliated with
the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) will hoist black flags and
conduct condolence meetings with human rights activists and civil society
The body of Shahzad, 40, was found
on May 31 at Mandi Bahauddin, about 150km southeast of Islamabad
in Punjab province.
Shahzad, a father of three who worked
for Asia Times Online and Italian
news agency Adnkronos, disappeared in Islamabad
about 5.45pm on May 29.
A post-mortem noted 15 torture marks
on his body, and no bullet wounds. The death was likely caused by a fatal blow
to the chest region, according to news reports.
As hundreds of people
attended Shahzad’s funeral in Karachi on June 1,
organisations of journalists and press freedom advocates from around the world issued
a joint letter appealing to the Government of Pakistan to quickly implement all
appropriate measures to protect media personnel and to prosecute murderers of
journalists in Pakistan. Read the letter here.
The letter to President Asif Ali
Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, signed by the PFUJ and 34 members
of the International Freedom of
Expression Exchange (IFEX), noted that Pakistan’s toll of dead and injured
journalists and media workers placed Pakistan ahead of Iraq and Mexico as the
world’s most dangerous country for journalists.
“We fully appreciate the great difficulties confronting all people in Pakistan at
this time. However, we also know that Pakistan has the resources and
expertise to conduct credible investigations into murders of journalists and to
bring culprits to justice,” the letter said.
The IFJ welcomed reports that an inquiry had been ordered into Shahzad’s
abduction and murder, but continued to stress that all murders of media
personnel must be fully investigated.
Meanwhile, the intelligence arm of
military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), made a
statement on June 1 to deny involvement in Shahzad’s disappearance and murder.
An ISI official was quoted by the
Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) as saying allegations of ISI involvement were
“baseless” and “tantamount to unprofessional conduct on the part of the media”.
The ISI would “leave no stone unturned in helping to bring the perpetrators of
this heinous crime to justice”.
Two days before he disappeared, Shahzad
published the first of a two-part investigative series into alleged links
between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials.
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