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April 17, 2018

Call to defend freedom of expression, civil rights

National

April 17, 2018

LAHORE: Journalists, editors, intellectuals and civil society activists Monday expressed serious concern about suppression of freedom of expression, rights-based movements and dissent.

In a joint statement, the representatives of civil society and media took serious exception to the ongoing reign of repression against a section of media, rights-based movements and those who are critical of an extended role of non-elected institutions. They cautioned against fascist designs, authoritarian machinations and unconstitutional manipulations by autocratic and extremist forces to scuttle fundamental civil, human and social rights, usurp rule of law, and hijack overall democratic processes and political transition. Expressing their reservations about the fairness of next elections and transition to the next elected setup, they called upon all parliamentary forces, civil society organisations and media bodies to thwart the authoritarian designs against truly representative system and sovereignty of the people.

Media and civil society activists demanded that ongoing arm-twisting of a section of media, including Geo and Dawn, the rights-based movements, including Pashtun youth movement for the civil rights of tribal people and other sections of dispossessed people should be stopped.

The meeting expressed dismay over the interim judicial order to censor former prime minister Nawaz Sharif'‘s and Maryam Nawaz’s speeches, which is against freedom of expression, rather than proceeding against them under contempt of court law if they had at all committed any contempt of judiciary.

The participants of consultation decided to form a broader alliance to protect freedom of expression/media, civil and human rights of the dispossessed people and to evolve a joint strategy to keep democratic transition on rail by ensuring free and fair elections. Meeting was attended by leading intellectuals, journalists, editors, lawyers and civil society activists at Safma Secretariat Lahore.

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