The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, marked World Press Freedom Day by organising an international media conference for the first time in Karachi, which brought together hundreds of its members from its affiliated unions as well as media professionals, human rights defenders and government officials.
The International Media Conference (IMC 2015), co-sponsored by the IFJ and the Karachi Union of Journalists, was attended by the IFJ President and Deputy General Secretary as well as representatives from IFJ unions in the USA, Canada, Kenya, Kuwait and India.
Pakistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and the PFUJ has been helping its journalists stand up against the relentless wave of violence which has claimed the lives of nearly 100 journalists in the last decade.
IFJ President Jim Boumelha spoke alongside union leaders, the governor of Sindh ,Ishratul Ebad Khan, and former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari at the opening ceremony held at Governor’s House, the seat of the regional government.
He paid tribute to the bravery of Pakistani journalists and said: “We should not apologise if our emotions are so raw and our frustrations so strong when we consider the staggering grim toll of the killing over the years of journalists in Pakistan. Last year Pakistan topped the IFJ poll of killed journalists. It is commendable that the PFUJ organised such a conference to raise awareness of the plight of Pakistani journalists who pay the ultimate price for just doing their jobs and upholding their citizens’ right to know.”
The two-day debate dealt primarily with the safety of journalists involving many coming from difficult conflict zones such as Balochistan, but also discussed a wide range of subjects on working conditions of journalists, their status and professional rights, and the current state and future of media.
IFJ Deputy General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, praised the PFUJ’s own efforts involving its president Rana Azeem and dozens of its activists in organising a conference that brought together members from all its unions and provinces .
“We are all proud that our union and its members have worked so hard to put the killing of Pakistani journalists on the global agenda,” he said.
Pakistan is one of the priority countries where UNESCO is implementing the UN Plan of Action to protect journalists and combat impunity.
The conference received huge media coverage with many sessions broadcast live. PFUJ General Secretary Amin Youssef said: “My unions thank the IFJ and sister unions for responding to our call to come and stand shoulder to shoulder with us on World Press Freedom Day, despite the security concerns. This conference has set up a roadmap for all our unions, their members, media organisations and authorities to work together to stop this senseless killing.”
The recommendations debated and approved by the participants are attached.
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