Transgender TV Anchor Escapes Assassination Attempt

Transgender Journalist Escapes Assassination Attempt

FN Threat Data Analysis – February 2023

A transgender television anchor survives an assassination attempt, five offline harassment and one verbal threat cases were monitored and documented during February 2023 through the Pakistan Press Club Safety Hubs Network programme, an award-winning civil liberty organisation Freedom Network is managing since 2016.

Islamabad-based Freedom Network is assisting journalists at risks in five different categories, including humanitarian assistance, in partnership with five press clubs in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Islamabad, and Peshawar and Women Journalists Association of Pakistan, Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) and one for minority journalists, under Pakistan Press Club Safety Hub Network programme since February 2016.

ATTEMPT TO KILL: Marvia Malik, the country’s first-ever transgender television anchor working for Koh-e-Noor TV, escaped a gun attack in Lahore on February 23rd, 2023 Marvia said she was receiving death threats from unknown people via phone calls after sharing her opinions on a bill seeking changes to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018.

The anchor survived an indiscriminate fire opened at her by two gunmen while she was on her way back from a pharmacy to her home in cantonment area in Lahore. Marvia immediately called Police on helpline 15. The gunmen escaped the scene before the police arrival. The incident scared and terrorized the transgender TV anchor. An FIR under section 440  of Pakistan Penal Codewas registered. No arrest is made so far.   

OFFLINE HARASSMENT: Islamabad Capital Police mistreated five court reporters of different media organizations and pushed them out of court premises to stop media coverage of PTI chairman Imran Khan appearance before the court on 28 February 2023. Security personnel of the Islamabad High Court were also present on this occasion but they remained silent spectators. The Islamabad Police refused to listen to the High Court registrar’s office. Assistant Commissioner ICT Abdullah reportedly instructed police to stop journalists from coverage. The police manhandled the following five reporters: Saqib Bashir, Zeeshan Syed, Shah Khalid, Abbas Shabbir and Idrees Abbasi. The Police also took away mobile phone of court reporter Zeeshan Syed away.

VERBAL THREAT: Sher Ali, working as a journalist with The News newspaper and BBC Urdu in Lahore received life-threatening messages after his report for BBC Urdu on Muavia Azam. The report – “How a fourth schedulers reached in EU while his name was placed in the list of Fourth Schedule under Terrorism Act 1997” irked the controversial politician.  After the article was published, Sher Ali started receiving threatening calls. The callers told the journalist that they knew him and also his family. Though Sher Ali tried to contact Muavia Azam for his comments but he could not be reached.

Threats, Attacks, and Harassment against Various Types of Media:

Six TV and one print journalist faced these seven cases of threats during February 2023.

Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media:

Five state, a banned organization and an unknown non-state actors were believed behind these threats journalists faced.

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