Pakistan Journalists Protest Countrywide after Deadliest Month in Years
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the first month of 2014 has been one of the deadliest in years for media workers in Pakistan. Four members of the media were slain in January and IFJ affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) continues to stage ongoing protests and actions across the country to mourn those lost and to demand action from the government to ensure the safety of media workers in Pakistan.
“The IFJ was deeply saddened by the tragic and brutal year for media workers in Pakistan in 2013 and already this grim trend seems to be continuing in 2014,” IFJ Asia Pacific Director Jacqui Park said.
“We support the PFUJ and its brave members in the wide-scale protests that have been held across the country in January, including ten days of mourning for those killed in these brutal and targeted attacks. We call for national solidarity as the IFJ continues to draw attention to the culture of impunity in Pakistan and the country’s failure to protect media workers.”
As well as the murder of the four workers, senior PFUJ leaders have also been issued threats for their activism campaigning against the killings and the terrorists responsible, the IFJ said.
Senior reporter for the Aaab Tak News Channel Shan Dahar died in the early hours of January 1st after being shot by unidentified assailants on the night of the 31st of December. Express News technician Waqas Aziz Khan, driver Khalid Khan and security guard Ashraf Arian were shot and killed in an Express News van on January 17. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The IFJ said PFUJ demonstrations took place in Karachi, Fata, Peshawar, Sawat, Dera Ghazi Khan, Abbotabad, Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Multan, Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur, Khairpur, Khairpur, Larkana, Dadu, Nawabshah, Khairpur Mirs, Hyderabad, Murpur Khas, Thatta, Tando Mohammad Khan, Quetta, Khuzdar, Qalat, Dera Murad Jamali, Sibi and other villages and towns of the country.
The PFUJ organised ten days of nationwide mourning beginning on the 19th. Black flags were hoisted at union offices and press clubs and black armbands were worn by journalists across the nation. On January 27th parliamentary reporters staged a walk out from the press gallery of the National Assembly. As a result of this walk out the PFUJ was assured that the government was aware about the threats to media workers and that a special meeting will be held soon to review the security of media. See a gallery of photos from the month of PFUJ protests here.
On the 21st of January the IFJ issued a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, calling for “serious and overdue action” to protect Pakistani journalists and bring attackers to justice following the shooting assassination of three media workers from Express News and Shan Dahar.
Pakistan was the third deadliest nation in the world for journalists last year, with 10 members of the media killed as set out in the IFJ’s release of the 2013 media killings list.