Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: HR activists, politicians join newsmen in protest

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Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: HR activists, politicians join newsmen in protest

RAWALPINDI/ KARACHI/ LAHORE/ PESHAWAR/ MULTAN: The protest of the workers of Geo and Jang Group on the call of the Joint Action Committee against the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman continued on Tuesday along with the political and civil society as well as the traders community.

The political and civil society along with the journalist organizations demanded the release of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, saying that the arrest was an attack on the freedom of media and effort to silence the voice of voiceless.

Addressing the protesters at the protest camp outside the offices of Jang and The News at the Murree Road in Rawalpindi, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Unionof Journalist (PFUJ) Nasir Zaidi said the journalist organizations always stood for the cause of journalists and freedom of media. “The arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is an attack on freedom of the media as NAB has made a fake and fabricated case against him just to mute the free voice of the media,” he said.

He said Geo and Jang Group was fighting for the freedom of media and expression for the last many decades and will continue its struggle till the media achieved its freedom. He said the journalists stood with Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group because he never compromised on the freedom of media.

Former MNA from Rawalpindi Haji Pervez Khan of the PML-N said the present government did not want anyone to expose it before the people and whoever brings the truth before the people was sent to jail. “Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was also sent to jail as Geo and Jang Group bring the truth before the people which the government did not like,” he said. He said the arrest of Mir Shakil was an attack on the freedom of media.

Representative of All Pakistan Newspapers Hawkers Aqeel Abbassi said the Jang Group belongs to the people of Pakistan and the purpose of arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was only to make the workers of Geo and Jang Group jobless. He said if they think that they could hide the truth from the people by arresting Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group, they had seen that not only the workers of Geo and Jang Group are on the roads but all the segments of the society were in support of Mir Shakil.

President Anjuman-e-Tarjraan Punjab Shahid Ghafoor Piracha said the Geo and Jang Group brought the truth before the people and it was not liked by the rulers.

He said all the traders of the country stood with the workers of Geo and Jang group for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Ex-MPA of PML-N from Rawalpindi Raja Hanif said the media is considered the fourth pillar of the state but the state was still reluctant to accept the media as the fourth pillar of the state.

He said the rulers were still undecided whether the country runs through democracy or dictatorship. He appealed to the higher judiciary of the country to take notice of the arrest of Mir Shakil in a fake and fabricated case.

Ex-President PFUJ Afzal Butt said the journalists were fighting for the cause of freedom of media and will continue their struggle till they achieve it. Resident Editor of Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said the message has been conveyed to Prime Minister Imran Khan by the institutions of the country to take all the people on board. He said Mir Shakil believed in independent and neutral journalism and in the freedom of media.

Senior Reporter of Jang Rana Ghulam Qadir said not only the coronavirus is a big challenge for the country but also Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said the media houses are on the roads because of their financial crisis that comes due to the present government. He said Pakistan was only meant for the democratic system and no one will be allowed to rule through dictatorial policies. “The NAB has become a tool of the government,” he said.

President RIUJ Aamir Sajjad Sayed said the purpose of the arrest of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was only to close the Geo and Jang Group. He said all the journalist organizations will continue the protest till the release of Mir Shakil.

Secretary General RIUJ and senior reporter of Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said 40 days had gone after the rest of Mir Shakil and now more and more people are joining the movement for the release. He said the journalists were not only raising their voice for the freedom of the media but also for the supremacy of the constitution which provides freedom of media and expression. “The movement will continue till the release of Mir Shakil,” he said.

Leader of Awami Workers Party Chaudhry Manzoor said Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group will never leave the country because he loves Pakistan. “The efforts of the government to close Geo and Jang Group will be insult of all the labourers of the country and people of Pakistan will not allow the government to close the Geo and Jang Group,” he said.

MPA of PML-N Zaibun Nisa said the workers of the PML-N will stand with the workers of Geo and Jang Group till the release of Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. President Rawalpindi Property Association Haji Muhammad Iqbal also demanded the release of Mir Shakil.

KARACHI: Condemning the arrest of the Jang-Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, former member of the Pakistan Bar Council and human rights advocate Zia Awan said on Wednesday that a civilian martial law exists in the country under which anyone who speaks, write and reflects the truth faces detention.

Awan was speaking to the demonstration outside the Jang-Geo offices in Karachi on Tuesday which is continuing since a fortnight now, demanding the immediate release of the Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief from custody of the National Accountability Bureau in a concocted 34-year-old case. He said that by persecuting Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the federal government has sent a message to the whole media industry that independent journalism will not be tolerated in the country and those who try will face the same curbs and arrests. Awan said that the whole civil society, democracy and transparency advocates, trade unionists and media should stand together with the Jang-Geo Group against the plot to gag the free and independent media. He also urged the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take a suo moto action over it.

Awan lamented that instead of holding accountable the people within its own ranks responsible for the inflation and mismanagement, the government was hell bent on bashing the media, which raises its voice against corruption. He said the government through its economic mismanagement had made the lives of the common man miserable.

Others who spoke at the camp included United Human Rights Council of Pakistan’s senior vice president Yusuf Thaheem, its vice chairman Lala Fahim, All Pakistan Newspapers Employees Confederation’s secretary general Shakil Yamin Kanga, Javed Press Union’s general secretary Rana Yusuf, The News Employees Union’s general secretary Dara Zafar and Geo News reporter Qaseem Saeed.

LAHORE: The employees of Jang-Geo Group and journalists from different media organizations continued peaceful demonstration on Tuesday, the 41st day of detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, and demanded his immediate release.The participants comprising journalists from The News, Jang, Geo, Awaz newspaper, other media organizations, and civil society members chanted slogans against the illegal arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. They termed the act of arresting Shakil-ur-Rahman a fascist act by the Imran Khan government. They termed the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman an attack on freedom of expression in Pakistan and observed that the media, as a representative of the society, was the fourth pillar of the state and those in power wanted to damage this pillar. The demonstrators criticized those at the helm for using the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for victimization purposes.

Senior journalist Pervaiz Bashir said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is not fighting for media freedom or freedom of expression only, but he is fighting for democracy, public independence, economic sovereignty of country and justice. He said the world will see that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will succeed one day and his struggle will not go waste.

Robina Chohan, senior journalist of The News, said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is fighting for the freedom of expression. She said the media should be getting free from all clutches and being the watchdog of the society, a free and independent media is crucial for the country.

Civil society representative Abdullah Malik said the civil society condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release from the NAB custody. He said the financial murder of the media is against the Constitution.

Shaheen Qureshi said 41 days had passed since Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was detained by the NAB and this fascist act was unacceptable by journalists across Pakistan. He said journalists are fed up with the fascist acts of the Imran Khan government. He mentioned that the Jang Group is doing its duty by creating awareness about the Covid-19 pandemic while the Imran Khan’s fascist act is keeping Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman under arrest. He said the Jang Group always highlighted Imran Khan’s viewpoints while now again it will air the Imran Khan fundraiser for Covid-19.

Meanwhile, veteran journalist Azhar Munir’s hunger strike against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman entered the 23rd day. The health of the journalist is deteriorating day by day while the requests of calling off the hunger strike by his friends and journalists went in vain. He announced that he will not end the hunger strike till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Azhar’s condition is vulnerable and at high risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic as he is sitting on a rug at a footpath outside the Lahore Press Club. He received threats and insults from different quarters if he does not call off the hunger strike. However, a determined Azhar says he will not call off the hunger strike till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He thanked the supporters and friends visiting his camp that firms his commitment.

PESHAWAR: The Jang Group workers on Tuesday continued the protest against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. PPP leader Khwaja Mohammad Khan Hoti, Raham Bacha Sherpao, Anwar Khan, representative of All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) Masood Khan and others visited the camp to express solidarity with media workers. Carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters demanded release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of the fake case against him.

Speaking on the occasion, Khwaja Mohammad Hoti condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old private property case and said it was aimed at pressurising the major media group. He demanded his immediate release. He said the rulers were living in a fool’s paradise to think they could pressure the media, journalists and the opposition through such tactics. The government, he said, had adopted silence over the mega corruption scandals, including the sugar and flour crises, the Malam Jabba land scam, the Bus Rapid Transit and the Billion Tree Tsunami projects as the ruling party people were involved in these scandals.

Appreciating the Jang Group for highlighting the truth, he noted that it never compromised on principles. He said the government would have to release Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman as he was innocent.

Khwaja Hoti, who is a former federal and provincial minister, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan reshuffled the federal cabinet, but avoided taking action against the ministers involved in the sugar and flour crises. He alleged that the prime minister was equally responsible for the sugar and flour crises.

The PPP leader said the entire world was taking measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, but the prime minister was targetting the opposition on trumped-up charges of corruption. He said instead of taking action to limit the transmission of Covid-19, the prime minister was constantly changing his statements and this irresponsible attitude was causing the spread of coronavirus. Raham Bacha Sherpao, Masood Khan and journalist Arshad Aziz Malik in their separate speeches condemned the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded the government to release him forthwith.

MULTAN: The Multan Union of Journalists, an affiliated body of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, on Tuesday condemned the arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.

The MUJ activists led by its president Shakil Baloch were carrying placards and banners in their hands. They chanted slogans against the curbs on the media and staged a demonstration and set up a protest camp. They also observed a hunger strike against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The MUJ demanded the government stop crushing the media and free press in the country, which had played a key role in the progress of democracy.

The MUJ members, including Rauf Maan, Shafqat, Shahadat Hussain, Nadeem Shah and others, said that the Jang Group was facing problems due to the government policies against the media. The government had imposed an unannounced censorship on the media, they alleged. They said that when Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was arrested, the Geo News was also removed from cable networks. The MUJ office-bearers and members said that there was not a single example in the country when a person was arrested at the pre-inquiry stage. The MUJ protesters alleged that the government wanted to squeeze the rest of media outlets and newspapers. They demanded release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman immediately, otherwise the PFUJ would launch a campaign to protect the rights of free press.

BAHAWALPUR: Members of the Anjuman Sahafiyan and Bahawalpur Union of Journalists on Tuesday staged a demonstration outside the Sutlej Park to condemn the arrest of Jang-Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. The protesters also took out a rally from the Sutlej Park to Rafique Shah Chowk in protest. The protesters chanted slogans against the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release. Meanwhile, members of the Ittehad Press Club and the Bahawalpur Union of Journalists also staged a demonstration outside the press club on the Baldia Road, Chishtian. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Newspaper: The News