Saturday, September 4, 2010

Newsman's abduction, torture a threat to media: PFUJ

Newsman's abduction, torture a threat to media: PFUJ

ISLAMABAD, Sept 4: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has condemned the abduction, torture and humiliation of The News investigative reporter Umer Cheema by unidentified persons who detained the reporter for over six hours in the federal capital on Saturday.

"It is a serious issue and threat to media persons, and the government should take all possible measures to arrest the culprits, and security of media persons be ensured in future,” the PFUJ asked.

Giving account of events of abduction and torture following his release, Umer Cheema revealed that he was picked up by some unknown men in police uniforms from Islamabad Sector I-8 when he was returning home early in the morning at Sehri time and taken to an unknown place at 45 to 50 minutes drive.

He said he was heading towards home in his car after meeting friends. When he reached Sector I-8, a Land Cruiser blocked his way and pulled over in front of his car while a white Toyota came and parked right behind.

"A few unknown men wearing uniforms of Elite Force came up to me, saying I crushed a man at Zero Point and drove off and then these men forcibly took me alongwith them," Umer Cheema added.

He further revealed that the men covered his face and took him to a building after a 45 to 50 minutes drive.

"I was held in illegal captivity for 6 hours during which I was continuously tortured and humiliated in nude. They stripped me, hanged me upside down and shaved off my head and moustaches," the senior reporter recounted.

Umer Cheema quoted the captors as saying: "Do you intend to have Martial Law imposed in the country by publishing anti-government reports?"

He said the captors warned: "Stop writing against the government, if you cannot bear this torture and that Ansar Abbasi will be the next target if I failed to stop."

They were also aware of my arrival in Gujranwala, Umer Cheema added.

Terming this incident a direct attack on freedom of press and a calculated move to put the media under pressure by a strong and powerful section of the country which claims itself above the law, norms, constitution and executive, the PFUJ President, Pervaiz Shoukat and Secretary General PFUJ Shamsul Islam Naz, said, adding that the journalists community with the support of the democratic forces would not allow anyone to run a state within a state and subjugate the democratic institutions and the free media.

They said it is a matter of satisfaction that Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaif Raza Gilani and other government functionaries have taken prompt and serious notice of this barbaric incident and assured in clear terms that the culprits would be brought to justice.

They said that it is the constitutional obligation of the state to protect life, property and ensure a conducive environment for a free media enabling media persons to discharge their basic functions of keeping the citizens informed.

They said that the entire journalists community, civil society, democratic forces are with the government to expose the “hidden hand” which appears to be involved in packing up democratic setup for their vested interests.

They further said that the PFUJ believes that such sort of attacks on journalists by unidentified elements show that the media is being terrorized and harassed as they consider it an obstacle in their nefarious designs.

“We also consider it a warning to media that it can be targeted any time and anywhere to bar it from professional duties. But journalists are brave enough and no such act can restrict them from reporting the truth,” they asserted.

They demanded of the government to take action against the culprits irrespective of the affiliations and they be proceeded agonist in accordance with law.

They welcomed the pledge by the President, the Prime Minister, and the Minister for Interior and Federal Minister for Information for free and fair investigation of the incident and to expose the causes of the incident, identify culprits to avert any untoward incident against media persons in future.

They assured that the PFUJ and the entire journalists community would fully cooperate the investigative agencies for reaching a just and right conclusion and unearthing the real culprits.

Shamsul Islam Naz
Secretary General
12-Nazimuddin Road, F-6/1
Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone Office +92(0)51 2870220-1
Facsimile +92(0)51 2870223
Cellular +92(0)300 8665523

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