Countrywide protests against curbs on press freedom
RAWALPINDI: The countrywide protests by workers of the Geo-Jang Group along with a large cross-section of civil society, political workers and journalist organizations continued on Monday against the government’s draconian restrictions on the constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental right of press freedom and independence of expression, which have of late resulted in the persecution of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman through his illegal and unjust arrest on a purely private and settled transaction 34 years ago.
In Rawalpindi, the protest by workers of Geo-Jang Group entered into the 53nd day on Monday against the continued persecution of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman through his uncalled for arrest. They also raised slogans and carried placards inscribed with demands. Addressing the protest camp, the Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Nasir Zaidi said the journalist fraternity in the country was united to protect the freedom of media and ready to sacrifice for the freedom of media. He said the purpose of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest was to muffle the independent media but they were mistaken in their belief that they would be able toachieve that. Editor Reporting Jang Rana Ghulam Qadir said the state of affairs signify that a civil dictatorship has been imposed on the country. He said Editor-in-Chief of Geo-Jang Group is in high spirits and and is committed to his principles. Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said the rulers were pressurizing the media to paint a landscape of all good in the country, against the starkly opposite ground realities, which was not acceptable to Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and he was arrested in an illegal, fake and fabricated case.
Senior Sports Reporter of Jang Shakil Awan and media workers of Jang Group Munir Shah said the journalists were united to foil the attempts by the government. They said not only the entire community but the global community was watching the illegal arrest of the Editor in Chief with strong concerns.
In Karachi, the employees of the Jang-Geo Group were joined at the protesters camp by a large section of teachers, trade unionists and political activists to express solidarity with them and demanded the unconditional release of Editor-In-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.
Veteran trade unionist and People’s Labor Bureau Sindh President Habibuddin Junaidi said the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was tantamount to putting chains and fetters around the independent journalism. He said that the previous government also tried to pressurise the Jang-Geo Group to change its editorial line but it emerged triumphant for siding with the truth. Junaidi said that the country lacks leadership as Prime Minister Imran Khan had failed and he has created uncertainty by attacking the media which has alarmed everyone. He referred to the fellow protesters from the teachers’ fraternity and said that people from every walk of life are with the Jang Geo Action Committee and could take to streets at its call.
The Sindh Professors and Lecturers Association President, Professor Syed Ali Murtaza, said that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a conspiracy being hatched against the Fourth Estate and the nation has seen through these designs and are condemning these dictatorial measures. He demanded forthwith release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The SPLA Karachi president Professor Munawwar Abbas expressed the teachers support for the Jang-Geo Action Committee. He said that the Group enjoys wide credibility among its readers and viewers. He asked the government under what law Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was taken into custody in the 34-year-old private transaction. He demanded that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman should be released immediately.
All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga said that the government’s plan to suppress the media has been reflected in the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He said that the government wanted to pressurise Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to toe its line. Kanga said that all the journalist associations, media and human rights associations across the world were demanding the unconditional release of Jang Geo Group Editor-in-Chief.
Others who spoke at the demonstration included SPLA’s Profesor Maqsood Ahmed, Karachi Development Authority Union chairman Hussain Ibrahim Kaka, PLB’s Amin Baloch, Nazir Awan, Irshad Swati, The News Union Syed Muhiuddin Pasha, Javed Press Union’s Rana Muhammad Yousuf and Iqbal Khaksar.
Newspaper: The News