The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemn a series of brutal attacks and manhandling of journalists by state security forces and protesters during the ongoing political protests in Islamabad, Pakistan, today and on Saturday. The IFJ and the PFUJ also express concern over the escalating number of incidents of violence against journalists in recent days.
According to reports out of Pakistan, police attacked media on Saturday, August 30, including journalists and staff from ARY News, News One, AbbTakk News, Dunya TV, Dawan News and JAAG TV at one of the demonstrations. Several were injured during the attacks. Police reportedly also pulled camera operators and other media workers from DSNG vans and beat them with batons. The IFJ has also heard that police allegedly smashed cameras and DSNG vans of several channels as well as journalists’ vehicles.
Also on August 30, anti-government demonstrators attacked the office of Pakistan’s leading TV channel Geo News in Islamabad. Protesters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) were on a march toward the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s House, when the crowd of angry demonstrators gathered outside the Geo News office, pelting it with stones.
Some stick-wielding protestors reportedly also attacked the satellite van of Geo News as the staff in the building struggled to escape. No-one was hurt in the incident but the building was damaged in the onslaught.
Today, September 1, over 800 PTI and PAT protesters stormed the PTV building in the early afternoon, holding a number of staff hostage and forcing management to shut down the transmission of PTV News and PTV World. They also stole weapons from security guards manning the building and damaged a number of PTV vehicles. There have also been reports of violence and manhandling against PTV staff.
The PFUJ said: “We demand the government to avoid attack on journalists; and advise journalists to take maximum care and keep their safety and security a priority.”
The IFJ said that incidences of police intentionally targeting media personal covering demonstrations was a deplorable situation and highlights the increasing security challenge facing journalists in Pakistan. The IFJ reminds journalists to remain vigilant during this time, and safety should remain their upmost priority. Please access the IFJ Safety Guidelines for Covering Demonstrations and Civil Unrest for more information.
“The police have the responsibility of protecting journalists; so their assault and violence cannot be justified by any logic,” the IFJ Asia-Pacific said. “We urge an immediate investigation into the matter and action against those policemen involved in the assault on journalists.”