110 % Increase In Attacks On Journalists In June 2017

June 2017 Freedom Network Media Analysis 

Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network, managed by Islamabad-based Freedom Network organization, documented 21 cases – 110 percent more than what it recorded in May 2017 – of violations against journalists countrywide during June 2017. These violations include killing of one print journalist, attacks on fourteen TV and print media practioners, attempt to kidnap two journalists, arrest of a print journalist for views on social media, legal cases against two journalists. These violations have taken place in all the four provinces.

MURDER: Young journalist Baksheesh Elahi, working for Kay2 newspaper as bureau chief in Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was murdered in a broad daylight by unknown motorists on June 11, and a lawmaker from Haripur told the National Assembly that the slain journalist was “facing threats” and they were brought into knowledge of district police officer. Hassan Khan, group editor of Kay2 newspaper, told Freedom Network that Elahi “did not bring threats into his knowledge.” Zakir Tanoli, president of Haripur Press Club, said: “His murder is not related to personal or family feud. He was receiving threats on social media.”

Veteran journalist Zeba Burney was murdered in her home by what police investigation said by an electrician who was visiting her to fix electricity problem. She was not active journalist although member of Karachi Press Club. Her murder was not related to her journalism work. However, he murder is condemned. Her murder was not counted, therefore.

ASSAULT & INJURY: Fourteen journalists, mostly working for electronic media, were attacked and injured in Balochistan, Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad. Most cases of these attacks – 10 out of 14 – occurred in the Punjab. Rana Tanveer, who works for Express Tribune mostly reporting religious minorities for his organization, survived attempt to assassinate him when a car hit him on June 9. He spent days on hospital bed after receiving leg injuries. The attempt on his life came after chalking on his residence’s main door on May 30, 2017: “Qadiani Nawaz Rana Tanveer kafir, wajib ul qatal (Qadiani supporter Rana Tanveer is an unbeliever who deserves to be killed.”

On June 19, private security guards of Faisalabad Agriculture University attacked nine TV crewmembers while interviewing six students who the varsity administration expelled for opinions on social media. Journalists took to the streets countrywide to condemn the attack on journalists after Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists gave call for protest.

Supporters of Pakistan People’s Party celebrating party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s arrival in Quetta on June 20, 2017, could not control emotions to target Dunya News channel’s cameraman Shehbaz Ahmed busy with making footage of party meeting. “I was making footage when these PPP supporters attacked me,” the injured cameraman said. Baluchistan Union of Journalists condemned the attack by PPP supporters.

In Karachi, private guards of Pakistan Muslim League (Functional group) assaulted Zubair Ashraf, staffer of Express Tribune, on June 11. According to Ashraf, he along with his colleague photojournalist Athar Khan were heading to office on motorcycle when rashly driven vehicles of convoy of PML (F) leader Pir Yasir Shah tried to overtake all other motorists in front of the National Medical Center (NMC) Hospital. Many motorists, mostly motorcyclists, narrowly escaped being hit by the escorting vehicles, as they kept pushing everyone aside to secure Shah, who himself was driving the vehicle. When argued with the guards they started threatening the public. A guard pointed his gun at Ashraf while another two started beating him with batons.

A DSNG operator of Channel 24 received bullet during coverage of celebrations of Pakistan team winning Champions Trophy in London on June 18 at residence of team captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Jubilant people resorted to aerial firing to join the celebrations and Shariq Ishtiaq received one bullet. His condition is stated out of danger.

In Islamabad, students of a seminary attacked Ali Usman, a reporter with Din News channel, in Faisal Chowk on June 6. He said he was filming to record alleged electricity theft by Haqqania seminary’s management when its students spotted him snatching cameraman from cameraman Rashid Azim and broke it. FIR was registered and police arrested two persons of the seminary.

ARREST: Paramilitary force Frontier Corps took away young journalist Zafarullah Achakzai from his residence in Quetta on June 25 after he posted critical questions challenging the police chief and security agencies for poor law and order in his city. He was handed over to Federal Investigation Agency after booked under controversial Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) law. Pakistan stepped up surveillance of social media arresting several bloggers early this year.

Islamabad administration arrested Channel 24 channel’s producer Syed Talha on June 15 on flimsy account. The producer was assiting his crew reporting appearance of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif before Joint Investigation Team in the Federal Judicial Academy. Higher authorities freed the producer after National Press Club Safety Hub  and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists took up the issue.

ATTEMPT TO KIDNAP: Azaz Syed, senior reporter with Geo News channel network while on his way to home from office at Park road (Shahzad Town) at around 9pm on June 6 escaped attempt to kidnap him when four unknown armed men riding in car and in a company of two bikeriders tried to stop his car by blocking his car. “The attackers tried to abduct him but he got escaped by speeding up his car and stopped it at Shahzad Town Police Station,” the journalist said. In May 2011, journalist Saleem Shehzad was kidnapped from Islamabad and few days later his dead body was found in Punjab province.

Amir Sajjad Syed, member of Federal Executive Committee of Pakistan federal Union of Journalists, escaped attempt to kidnap in Satellite town in Rawalpindi on June 6. He said unidentified motorists stopped him at gunpoint. However, on pedestrians’ interventions the bikers sped away and he survived attempt to kidnap.

LEGAL CASE: The Federal Investigation Agency registered a case against young journalist Zafarullah Achakzai working for Qudrat newspaper under controversial Prevention of Electronci Crimes Act (PECA) after posting “critical questions” challenging the provincial chief and intelligence agencies for poor law and order situation in Quetta, capital of Balochistan province.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media

In three cases of arrest, legal and fine, state actors are involved while in two cases non-state actors. In two cases, political parties’ involvement was reported, in one case, private guards of Faisalabad Agriculture University while in five cases distinction is difficult to make between state and non-state actors’ involvement in murder, attempt to kidnap and assault. Paramilitary force Frontier Corps is prominently figuring out in attacks on media in Balochistan for last two consecutive months of May and June 2017.

Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media

Five categories of attacks and threats against various types of media were documented during June 2017. These included six seven cases of violations against print media and fourteen against electronic media.

Of the 21 cases against different types of media, eleven television media practitioners were attacked and injured, three print media journalists assaulted and two arrested by authorities and one murdered.

Advocacy on Journalists’ Safety by Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network

The Pakistan Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network also does extensive advocacy work to help sensitize all media-related stakeholders on safety and security of journalists and media institutions and media houses. Some of the key advocacy activities on journalists’ safety during May 2017 period included the following:

National Press Club Safety Hub, Islamabad

  • Arranged protest demonstration on June 21 to condemn brutal murder of Kay2 newspaper bureau chief Baksheesh Elahi in Haripur TV Mr. Bakhsheesh Elahi in Harripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa demanding immediate arrest of assailants.
  • Participated in Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists’ constitutional committee at National Press Club on final draft of “Journalists Protection Welfare Bill”. National Press Club Safety Hub manager shared Freedom Network’s inputs on the draft bill. The meeting decided to reject the draft bill on ground that the government had not accommodated recommendations of PFUJ and the civil society.

Peshawar Press Club Safety Hub

  • Contacted Noor Behram, president of Tribal Union of Journalists in North Waziristan, to brief him on role Peshawar Press Club Safety Hub can play in assisting journalists in distress from North Waziristan. The contact was aimed at increasing outreach of Pakistan Press Club safety Hubs Network, Freedom Network is managing.
  • Contacted Adnan Bitani, president of Tribal Union of Journalists in South Waziristan, and briefed him on role Peshawar Press Club Safety Hub can play in assisting journalists in distress from South Waziristan. The contact was aimed at increasing outreach of Pakistan Press Club safety Hubs Network, Freedom Network is managing.

Quetta Press Club Safety Hub

  • A joint delegation of Freedom Network, Balochistan Union of journalist (BUJ) and Quetta Press Club office-holders met Awami National Party provincial president Asghar Achakzai at his home to discuss issue of Matiullah Achakzai, local Journalist in Chaman city who is facing some issues which he reported to Quetta Press Club Safety Hub manager. Asghar Achakzai assured the delegation to help Matiullah as much as possible.

Click below link to read May 2017 threat analysis by Freedom Network

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