=> JOURNALISTS bodies and rights activists have deman
JOURNALISTS bodies and rights activists have demanded more security and insurance for newsmen as the number of their casualties was increasing along with the increase in the magnitude of violence in the country.
The demand was made after the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) surfaced reports, revealing that Pakistan topped the number of journalists being killed in the line of duty across the region during 2007. The major incidents that claimed journalist’s lives included the recent suicide bombings on Pakistan Peoples Party processions in Karachi and Rawalpindi.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) General Secretary Mazhar Abbas told The News that 2007 was the worst year in terms of violence against media
men during the last decade as seven journalists were killed while 73 others were injured in different incidents of terrorism, violence and police torture. He said more than 30 of the injured journalists faced severe head injuries due to the baton charge of police while three of them were allegedly kidnapped by the government agencies. He said the PFUJ had already written to the media outlet owners, government, local and international agencies about the grave situation, demanding better security facilities and life insurance for the reporters and photographers covering the sensitive events and personalities or serving in conflict zones.
Ã¬The year also remained worst as all TV channels were shut down by the government for the first time in the history while one of them (Geo TV) was still being persecuted for reporting the truth and exercising its right of freedom of expression,Ã® he maintained, adding that the union was also protesting against the curbs on media by PEMRA and demanding opening of Geo TV.
Ã¬It is very important for all the stakeholders to understand the dangerous situation as the newsmen are facing more and more threats with increasing of violence in the country while it has become extremely difficult for them to work in tribal areas, Interior Sindh and Balochistan,Ã® he said. Mazhar said 13 of the journalists working in the tribal areas had to quite the profession in 2007 amid severe life threats and no security arrangements.
The PFUJ general secretary asserted that the current government had allowed violence and discrimination against newsmen despite its claims to be the one which provided media freedom. He said the trend of serving the people by reaching the masses with the cutting edge information would decline and it would be a big blow for the country and the nation as a whole.
Talking to The News, known journalist and media rights activist Hussain Naqi also said the journalists specifically became victims of bombings when they had to be around the political leaders right from the beginning till the end of an event while their families suffer forever after their death. Ã¬All media outlets and journalists bodies should think about having life insurance of their members as they insure the equipment the journalists carry with them,Ã® he maintained, adding that the government and the organisers of an event should also adopt protective measures for media men covering their activities.
Hussain Naqi also demanded that journalists must be given proper security and bullet-proof vests as the other security personnel who move with the VIP personalities were given in order to ensure their life safety.
Punjab Union of Journalists President Arif Hameed Bhatti said he wrote letters to many authorities concerned, including the government departments and the media outlet owners, to provide life insurance to their workers amid rapid increase in violence and torture in the country. He said the killings of journalists in the line of duty were increasing to an alarming level, which has put the whole community, especially the reporters and photographers in danger. Ã¬They will not be able to do their best in an insecure environment that can also hinder their mission to provide the people the maximum information about any happening,Ã® he said. Bhatti also mentioned that the PUJ organised several seminars and training workshops for the journalists to train them how to work in conflict zones and other critical situations.
Source: The News