The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its backing for the observance of June 7 as a “Black Day” by its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the IFJ fully supports the PFUJ’s protests against threats to media organisations and staff, unfair working conditions, and mounting press curbs by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
“Journalists’ organisations around the world need to band together to force the Pakistani government to protect press freedom and strike down the culture of impunity that has pervaded the country,” Park said.
Since January this year, at least five separate incidents involving journalists – including murders - have occurred in the tribal agencies on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
“There are a number of areas that need vast improvement within the Pakistani system and violence against media workers is one of the largest problems,” Park said.
“The use of PEMRA to enforce direct censorship on broadcasters, mostly associated to coverage of events relating to the suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, is unacceptable. Aaj TV and Geo TV have been suspended or threatened with closure at least three times each on the grounds of ‘national interest and security.’”
The PFUJ will be leading its affiliates in holding protest meetings, hoisting black flags and wearing black armbands.
“The world needs to show President Musharraf that his administration’s brand of blatant disregard for basic human rights, freedom of expression, and the rule of law will not be tolerated,” Park said.
The PFUJ is also calling for newspaper owners to implement the Seventh Wage Award, which was written in 2001 to provide for minimum job conditions and wages, and which still has not taken hold.
The IFJ, the organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries, urges journalists’ advocacy groups to send letters of protest to President Musharraf and his government to show your support for the PFUJ and all Pakistani journalists.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries