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June 5, 2020

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest: Protesting Jang/Geo workers keeping up morale

June 5, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The countrywide protest of the workers of Geo and Jang Group along with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, representatives of the civil society and political parties against the illegal arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and on the curbs on the media continued on Thursday.

The countrywide protest of workers of Geo and Jang Group completed 83rd day on Thursday against the illegal arrest illegal arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and chanted slogans for his release and condemned the curbs on the freedom of media and also condemned the conspiracies to close down the Geo and Jang Group.

Addressing the protesters outside the offices of Jang and The News at Murree Road in Rawalpindi which has been named as a “Freedom Street”, 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 while addressing the protesters said the struggle of the journalists and media workers continued not only on roads but also in the courts of law for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Chairman Editorial Committee of Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid said more than 8,000 workers of Geo and Jang Group stood with Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. He said despite all odds, Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief refused to compromise on the principles.

Chairman Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo and Jang Group and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chisti said the government attitude failed to demoralise the workers of Geo and Jang Group as they stood as a wall with their Editor-in-Chief. Chief Reporter of Jang Rawalpindi said Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group Shakil-ur-Rahman is a patriot Pakistani who is serving the country. He said Editor-in-Chief of Geo and Jang Group became voice of every worker and journalist of the media. “A new movement will come out from the principles of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and he will become the voice of voiceless media in the country,” he said.

Magazine Editor of Jang Rawalpindi Farooq Aqdas said the family of Editor-in-Chief always stood for the freedom of media and for the truth. He said the attitude of the successive governments in the country always created the problems for the working journalists. Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo News Asif Ali Bhatti said the government completely failed to bring Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief under pressure. “The morale of the workers of Geo and Jang Group still high and stood with their Editor-in-Chief,” he said.

Leader of the PML-N Imtiaz Taji said all the political parties and journalists’ organisations stood with the workers of the Geo and Jang Group in their struggle for the freedom of media and for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, who had been in illegal custody for last 83 days.

He said the voice of truth could not be suppressed, as whenever efforts were made to hide the truth, it only caused serious consequences.

The worker of Awami Workers Party Masoodul Hasan said despite 83 days has passed, the government completely failed to bring any evidence against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

He said the government always failed to mute the free voices with arresting the journalist.

Media workers of Geo and Jang Group Munir Shah, Amjad Ali Abbasi and Malik Nusrat said the workers of Geo and Jang Group stood with their Editor-in-Chief.

In Lahore, media workers and people from different walks of life continued their protest Thursday against the unlawful arrest of Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in the provincial metropolis.

The demonstrators at the protest camp, set up outside the Jang/The News Offices on Davis Road, shouted slogans and while condemning the arrest demanded immediate release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman.

Besides media workers from Geo News, Jang and Awaz newspapers and The News, people from the civil society including Abdullah Malik, PML-N MPA Tariq Gill, Waheed Alamgir of the PPP and senior journalists including Jang’s Group Editor Shaheen Qureshi, Maqsood Butt, Maqsood Awan, Zaheer Anjum, Awais Qarni, Khizar Hayat Gondal and Jang Workers Union Secretary Muhammad Farooq attended the protest.

The speakers criticising the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a decades-old fake property case by the NAB termed the same unlawful and an attack on media freedom in Pakistan.

They linked Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s arrest with curbs on media freedom in the country observing that neither there was any reference against him nor FIR but he was put behind bars just because he brought truth to the surface. They said the arrest was in fact part of a larger plan to silence media in the country which media workers would not allow at any cost. They said media workers had earned this independence after great sacrifices while the fascist rulers wanted to snatch the same.

They further said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was an icon of media’s struggle in Pakistan and that was why he was put under detention without any charge for the last 82 days. The speakers further observed that they would continue their struggle for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and freedom of press in the country.

In Peshawar, the media workers continued the protest against the arrest of Jang/Geo Group Editor-in-Chief, Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, in a 34-year old property case.

The workers carrying banners and placards, inscribed with slogans, urged the government to release Mir Shakil who represented the biggest media group of the country and was respected for promoting independent journalism.

Chanting slogans against the government and the National Accountability Bureau, the protesters vowed to continue the protest till the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and withdrawal of cases against him.

The protesters flayed the government for pressuring the Jang Group through such pressure tactics but hoped it would not be able to prevent the journalists from reporting the truth. The speakers, including Arshad Aziz Malik, Resident Editor of Jang in Peshawar, senior journalist Shakil Farman Ali and others said the people had the right to have access to information and the government cannot deprive them of this constitutional right.

The speakers termed the arrest of Mir Shakil as unjust and a clear bid by the government to pressure the Jang Group and all those media houses which were pursuing independent journalism.

They recalled that the government did not meet the legal requirements before arresting the Jang Group chief. The speakers said the arrest was an attack on press freedom and pointed to the victimization of the free media.

The government, they said, wanted to gag the independent media and convey a warning to others to toe its line or face the same fate.

In Multan, the workers of Jang, Geo and The News staged a demonstration against the arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his immediate release.

Civil society activists, political workers, traders, journalists and human rights activists, including Tariq Niaz, Cantonment Traders Association ex-president Haji Latif Ansar, Zeeshan Butt, Adnan Chaudhry and Shaukat, also joined the protest and expressed solidarity with the Jang/Geo Group workers.

The protesters said that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was a part of the government’s strategy to restrict the circulation of newspapers of the Pakistan’s largest media group.

They said that the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a fake case had also exposed the impartiality of the accountability. They said that the government policies were bringing unrest in the society and defacing the soft image of Pakistan in the world.