His Excellency President General Pervez Musharraf
President of Republic of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
7 November 2007
We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the
World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries,
to express our serious concern at the jailing of at least six journalists,
including World Editors Forum Board member Imtiaz Alam, and the crackdown
on freedom of the press during the current state of emergency.
According to reports, as part of the clampdown on the media and civil
society following the declaration of the state of emergency, on 5 November
police in Lahore detained Mr Alam, current affairs editor of The News and
Secretary General of South Asian Free Media Association. Mr Alam was
reportedly arrested and taken to an undisclosed location.
In a separate incident, at least five journalists were arrested during a
demonstration against police attempts to seal the printing press of the
Awam daily in Karachi. The arrested journalists include: Mohammad Mohsin,
reporter for Indus TV; Shariq Ahmed, a photographer for the daily
Khabrain; Nazeer Khan, a photographer for the daily Nawa-i-Waqt;
Fazal-ur-Rahman, a reporter for the daily Mehshar; and Asghar Shah, a
cameraman for Aaj television station.
Dozens of journalists working for the independent media have reportedly
been assaulted or prevented from working. Other attacks on press freedom
include the suspension of broadcasts of all international and national
private news channels, the restriction of cable broadcasts to
entertainment programming and the blocking of a number of international
and national news websites. Transmission equipment has also been seized
from several broadcast media, and numerous criminal offences that severely
restrict freedom of the press have been created.
We respectfully remind you that jailing Mr Alam and other journalists is a
clear breach of their right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed
by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: "Everyone has the
right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the
freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and
impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers."
We respectfully call on you to ensure that Mr Alam and all other detained
journalists are immediately and unconditionally released. We call on you
to halt your crackdown on the media and to take all necessary steps to
ensure that in future your country fully respects international standards
of freedom of expression.
We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
World Association of Newspapers
World Editors Forum
WAN is the global organization for the newspaper industry, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 newspapers in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups. WAN is non-governmental and non-profit.