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September 15, 2020

Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention: Jang-Geo workers continue protest

Top Story

September 15, 2020

RAWALPINDI/LAHORE/PESHAWAR: The journalists and workers of the Geo-Jang Group continued their protest against the illegal arrest of their Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and said that he is suffering illegal detention for the last six months, which is a plain and simple case of victimisation for following the constitutionally-guaranteed media freedom.

The Monday's demonstration by the Rawalpindi's Geo-Jang Group of journalists and workers along with the journalist organisations, representatives of the civil society, and political workers completed 185th day of consistent protests.

At the protest camp outside the offices of the Jang and The News in Rawalpindi, the protesters chanted slogans and raised placards for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman. Addressing the protest camp in Rawalpindi, Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi said the Group's publications and its TV network was being targeted for being the largest and independent media house of the country. He said Rahman has become an icon for the freedom of the press and the struggle for the freedom of media will continue despite all odds.

The Secretary General RIUJ and senior correspondent Geo News, Asif Bhatti, said the workers of Geo-Jang Group have high morale and will continue their struggle till the release of their Editor- In-Chief. He said they are looking towards the Supreme Court for justice. Among others who also addressed the protest camp included Chairman Joint Action Committee and President Jang Workers Union Nasir Chisti, Rahat Munir, Shakil Awan, Kamal Shah, Munir Shah, Nusrat Malik, Amjad Abbasi, Aslam Butt, PML-N leader of Rawalpindi Imtiaz Taji and other workers.

In Lahore, a similar large cross-section of journalists, civil society members, office-bearers of media unions and Jang Workers Union continued their protest to condemn the PTI government for usurping media freedom through different tactics, including detaining Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman in a 34-year-old property exchange case for the last six months.

While staging a demonstration at the protesters' camp near the Jang offices, the workers of Jang, Geo and The News lamented that Prime Minister Imran Khan had severely undermined democracy by curtailing the freedom of media and independence of expression. They said this is simply a reflection of the lack of tolerance by the government. The speakers said the PTI came into power to turn Pakistan into a Madina-like state, but on the contrary, it is bent on victimising Mir Shakil for refusing to toe the government line to cover corruption and bad governance, they said. The participants termed it a blatant attack on media freedom, raised slogans against the fascist government and condemned the anti-media tactics of the NAB. They threatened to launch an anti-government movement across the country if Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman was not released.

Jang Workers Union Secretary General Farooq Malik, Pakistan Times News Editor Zaheer Anjum, Muhammad Shafiq, Faizan Bangash, Awais Qarni, Humayun Zaman Mirza, Amjad Saeed, Qaiser Saleem Khan, Ijaz Rasool, Ms Ayesha Akram, Ms Riffat, Saleem Kamran, Romeo Jalib, Aziz Sheikh, Muhammad Irshad, Munawwar Hussain, Shahid Aziz, Muhammad Naeem, Muhammad Ali, Hafiz Asad, Akmal Bhatti, Afzal Abbas, and Mushtaq were among the protesters.

In Peshawar also the journalists continued the protest against the arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and demanded his forthwith release.

The protesters converged on the lawn outside the offices of the daily Jang, The News and Geo TV in the Khyber Super Market. They were carrying banners and placards inscribed with demands to release Mir Shakil and to stop harassing newsmen and anchors. They also raised slogans against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government for using coercive tactics against the Jang-Geo Group and its lack of tolerance for the free media. The daily Jang's Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, Bureau Chief Geo News Shakeel Farman Ali, Nisar Mahmood, Khalid Kheshgi, Farmanullah Jan, Ansar Abbas, Sabz Ali Shah, Gohar Ali, Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Ihtesham Toru and others addressed on the occasion.

The speakers slammed the PTI government for launching a witch hunt against Rahman by keeping him under prolonged detention on fabricated and cooked-up charges. They lamented that he and his media group were being punished for pursuing independent journalism. The speakers were critical of National Accountability Bureau's selective accountability to coerce opposition parties and the free media.