Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Clamp Down on Journalists in Pakistan

Journalists protest media restrictions across country
* Over 150 arrested Karachi journalists freed
* Journalists in Lahore, Islamabad and Quetta urge govt to lift ban on private TV channels
Staff Report: Daily Times, November 21, 2007

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE/QUETTA: Journalists across the country rallied against media curbs on Tuesday, resulting in over 150 being arrested in Karachi, before being released late on Tuesday night.

The protests, which had been called by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), were heavily attended by media personnel and were for the most part peaceful. However, the rally in Karachi turned violent when police baton-charged the protesters as they tried to advance towards Governor’s House.

Association of TV Journalists President Jawed Sabha, columnist Zubair Rehman and ARY reporter Ajiz Jamali were badly beaten during the protest. Some of the journalists ran back to seek refuge in the Karachi Press Club but were prevented from entering by police.

The police arrested about a dozen senior journalists including Karachi Press Club President Sabihiuddin Ghausi and Karachi Union of Journalists President Shamimur Rehman.

After the senior journalists were arrested, all remaining journalists demanded their release and following the police’s refusal, offered themselves up for arrest as well. In the end over 150 journalists were arrested.

In the evening, the police said the women journalists could leave, but they refused to go until everyone was freed. Finally, on Tuesday night, all the journalists were released, including four who had gone “missing”. Following their release, the journalists held a rally and vowed to continue protesting until all curbs on media were lifted.

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