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September 23, 2020

Protests against Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman’s detention continue: Govt shows intolerance against dissent

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September 23, 2020

LAHORE/RAWALPINDI/PESHAWAR: The journalists and workers of the Jang-Geo Group held yet another day of countrywide demonstrations against the illegal and unjustified arrest of Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman and termed it as part of the government's campaign to gag the free media and a reflection of its absolute intolerance against dissent.

In Rawalpindi, journalists and workers of the Jang-Geo Group were joined by the journalist organizations, representatives of civil society and political workers at the protest camp outside the offices of Jang and The News. They chanted slogans and raised placards for the release of Editor-in-Chief and against the government campaign to curtail freedom of media.

Among others who attended the protest included Secretary General Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists Nasir Zaidi, Chairman Joint Action Committee of workers of Geo and Jang Group Islamabad and President Jang Workers Union Rawalpindi, Nasir Chisti, Resident Editor Jang Rawalpindi Hanif Khalid, Secretary General RIUJ Asif Ali Bhatti, Chief Reporter Jang Rawalpindi Rana Ghulam Qadir and other workers of Jang and The News. The protesters said they were looking towards the Supreme Court of Pakistan for justice.

In Peshawar, journalists gathered outside the offices of Daily Jang, The News and Geo News to register their protest at the incarceration of the Jang Group chief. They raised slogans against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, National Accountability Bureau and in support of the media freedom. They called for withdrawal of cases and honourable release of Rahman under detention since March 12 of this year. Those who made speeches included Jang Resident Editor Arshad Aziz Malik, Gohar Ali, Qaiser Khan, Ehesham Toru, Amjad Safi, Sardar Imdad Ali Qazalbash, Rahamdil and others. They said the Editor In Chief was arrested to put pressure on the free media and convey a warning to the other independent media outlets to toe the official line.

The speakers came down hard on the NAB for suppressing the opposition parties and independent media houses and for not taking any action against the PTI members allegedly involved in wheat, flour and sugar crises, Malam Jabba land, Billion Tree Tsunami and Bus Rapid Transit scams.

In Lahore, the workers of Jang-Geo Group demanded the government immediately release Mir Shakil. The protesters included senior journalists Zaheer Anjum, Abdullah Malik, Secretary Jang Worker Union Farooq Awan, Aysha Ikram, Zahid Ali Khan, Awais Qarni and others.

Munawar Hussain said Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman is the standard-bearer of freedom of journalism and his arrest is illegal and unjust. He said there is no concept of democracy without freedom of media. Media plays a vital role in strengthening democracy, he said, adding that journalists and workers of the Jang Group would continue their protest till Rahman's release.