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June 4, 2020

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest: Jang/Geo workers’ protest venue declared ‘Freedom Street’

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June 4, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The workers of the Geo and Jang group along with the journalists organisations, representatives of the civil society and political workers continued their protest on Wednesday against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who has been under detention without any charge for last 82 days.

On Wednesday, Chairman Joint Action Committee of the workers of Geo and Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti has declared the venue of protest outside the offices of the Geo and Jang offices in Rawalpindi as a “Freedom Street” in a struggle for the freedom of media and for raising the voice of voiceless people.

The countrywide protest of workers of Geo and Jang Group completed 82nd day on Wednesday. The protesters chanted slogans for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and condemned curbs on the freedom of media. Addressing the protest outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi, the speakers called for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and vowed to continue their protest till his release.

Secretary General Pakistan Federal Unions of Journalists Nasir Zaidi said despite in jail, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman stood firm on his principles.

He said the PFUJ will foil the conspiracies of sacking of journalists from the media houses.

Chairman Editorial Committee Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is struggling for the freedom of media and has become sole voice for the freedom of media.

He said the false and fabricated cases were framed against him on a paper on 34-year old business transaction.

Chief Reported Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir said our protest is for justice and democracy.

He said 8,000 workers of Geo and Jan Group stood as a wall with their Editor-in-Chief. “We will not allow any conspiracies of closing the Geo and Jang group,” he said. Chairman Joint Action Committee and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi Nasir Chisti said the venue of the protest has been declared as a “Freedom Street” for raising the voice for the freedom of media and for justice.

He said our struggle is not only for justice and release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman but also will not allow any conspiracies of closing the Geo and Jang group and for right of the people for freedom of expression.

Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said we are on path of truth and will raise voice against the rulers without any fear.

Senior journalist of Jang Group Nadeem Khan said the NAB case against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is based on false and fabricated and it will go into trash soon.

Media workers of Jang group Amjad Ali Abbasi said the government cannot achieve anything with arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Media Worker of Jang Group Munir Shah said that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman stood on principles and he will come out from jail as a winner.

Media worker of Jang Group Malik Nusrat appealed to Chief Justice to take a notice of illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Worker of PML-N Youth Wing Obaid Abbasi said the NAB-Niazi nexus has been exposed.

He said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will be out from jail soon.

In Lahore, journalists and employees of the Jang Group staged a protest demonstration Wednesday on Davis Road against illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Led by Jang’s Group Editor Shaheen Qureshi, the protesters demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and rejected the NAB and PTI government alliance aimed at targeting media houses. Besides a number of Jang, The News and Geo employees, the protest was also participated by civil society representative Abdullah Malik, Maqsood Butt, Khizar Hayat, Fareed Alamgir, Mirza Rizwan, Zaheer Anjum, Munawwar Hussain, Akmal Bhatti, Awais Qarni, Muhammad Farooq, Jang Workers Union General Secretary Riaz Hussain, Allah Rakha, Muhammad Ali and Afzal Abbas.

Apart from the employees, people from various walks of life also participated in the demonstration. The protesters said a group of fascist is ruling the country. They said it has been trying to silence the voice of truth and detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is a series of continuous attack on the freedom of expression.

“Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman had always stood for the freedoms and rights of people of Pakistan,” they said and added the Jang/Geo editor-in-chief always upheld the truth. They said the NAB-Niazi combination would never thrive, adding the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is an attack on country’s Constitution.

They said the Supreme Court should take notice of the illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and provide justice to Jang/Geo editor-in-chief. They said the top court should also take notice of the outstanding dues of media houses held by the government. They said their struggle for release of MSR would continue as there was no legal basis for his arrest at all.

They criticised the PTI government and the NAB for trying to subjugating the Press and victimising political opponents. The anti-media policies of the rulers had pushed thousands of media workers towards starvation, they added. They demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and dues of media houses.

In Peshawar, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Rahimdad Khan condemned the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for detaining Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year old property case.

Addressing the protesting workers of Jang group outside their offices, he termed unjust the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who is Editor-in-Chief of the biggest media group in the country.

The former senior minister said the government did not fulfill the legal requirements before making the arrest.

Terming the arrest attack on press freedom and victimization of the media houses, he said the national and international media organizations had condemned the arrest.

He said the PPP always supported media workers and would stand by them against illegal decisions of the rulers. The government, he said, wanted to suppress voice of the independent media and convey a message to others to toe its line.

He said the PPP condemned pressure tactics of the government against media workers. He added that the government was harassing and suppressing voice of independent media.

The PPP leader said media played the role of a mirror but the rulers instead of improving their performance wanted to smash the mirror to hide their incompetence.

Rahimdad Khan said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should have investigated the mega corruption scandals including the Malam Jabba land scam, Billion Tree Tsunami and Bus Rapid Transit projects.

The workers carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman urged the government to release their editor-in-chief forthwith.

They also chanted slogans against the government and the NAB and vowed to continue the protest till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him.

The protesters said the government would not be able to prevent the journalists from speaking the truth. They added the people had the right to have access to information and the government cannot deprive them of their constitutional right.