RMNP World Press Freedom Day Roundtable

The Role of Free Media as Defenders and Drivers of Human Rights in Pakistan”
MAY 3, 2023

Press Freedom Organization Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) organized World Press Freedom Day Roundtable  entitled ” The Role of Free  Media as Defenders and Drivers of Human Rights in Pakistan” .It was held on  May 3,2023 in the premises of  Punjab College  in collaboration with Daily newspaper Nawa-I-AhmedpurSharqia and  Ahmadpur Union of Journalists (AUJ).

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President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar along with RMNP & AUJ colleagues displaying the copies of “Universal Declaration of Human Rights ” provided by WAN-IFRA in WPFD Roundtable.

This WPFD roundtable was attended by the presidents of Tranda Muhammad Panah, (RahimyarKhan district) ,Uchsharif,Chanigoth,Mubarakpur,AhmedpurEast ( Bahawalpur district)along with four other journalists unions leaders. Crown Prince of former princely Bahawalpur State Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi opened the debate by displaying the copy of “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which RMNP had received from “World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).

President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar while presenting ” RMNP Annual Press Freedom Report” said that in previous year 2022, seven Pakistani journalists Husnain Shah,Muraza Sehar,iftikhar Ahmed, Muhammad Younas,Arshad Sharif and Ms Sadaf Naeem lost their lives, while a total 116 journalists were killed in the line of duty throughout the globe during this period. He informed that 157 Pakistani journalists have been killed during last twenty three years as the result of their critical reporting on human rights violations in different areas of Pakistan.Mr Ehsan underlined the need of climate change training for journalists so they could raise awareness especially in rural areas and small towns adjacent to different rivers. He disclosed that World Health Organisation (WHO) research shows that 3.6 billion people already live in areas highly susceptible to climate change in different countries. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from undernutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress alone. Moreover the direct damage costs to health (excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation) is estimated to be between US$ 2–4 billion per year by 2030 . He announced to organise a series of human rights training for rural journalists in near future besides the publication of an HR training manual in the country Urdu language.

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Participants hailing from Rahimyarkhan & Bahawalpur districts displaying Universal Declaration of Human Rights copies in RMNP World Press Freedom Day Roundtable.

Key-note speaker Prince Bahawal Abbas Abbasi said that democracy can’t flourish without an independent media.In major cities of Pakistan, journalists highlight human rights abuses in both print and electronic media but unfortunately due to the glaring absence of female journalists in small towns and rural areas, incidents of violence against women and kids go unreported in mainstream media. He urged UN,UNESCO and international media development organisations to manage human rights training courses for journalists based in South Punjab, Interior Sindh , Balochistan and KP tribal areas .Crown Prince of former Princely Bahawalpur State stressed the need to promote regional press and rural journalists who cover the issues of 65 percent people of Pakistan living in small towns and rural areas. Addressing to Rahimyarkhan and Bahawalpur district based journalists, he stated that when the media puts a spotlight on human rights, people start talking about the issues and demanding change. A strong, independent media is a referee between governments and people. When human rights are protected, governments are more accountable and people’s lives improve, he concluded.

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Earlier Coordinator RMNP Muhammad Suleman Farooqi,President AUJ Abdul Hameed Saqib,educationist Syed TanveerulHassan Bukhari,President Uch Press Club & Media Club Irshad Ahmed Shad,Chairman Uchsharif Press Club Khawaja Ghulam Shabbir ,Chairman Selection Committee Press Club Taranda Muhammad Panah Muhammad Arbi Abbasi,General Secretary AUJ Imran Lar, senior journalist Syed Sarfraz Hussain Zaidi,President Press Club Mubarakpur Faraz Haider Khan,President Press Club Chanigoth Shahid Bashir Chaudhry,journalists Muhammad Yousaf Ghani Qureshi,Shabbir Qureshi, Hameedullah Aziz and other shared their experiences regarding human rights abuses reporting.

Later on Prince Bahawal Abbas Khan Abbasi distributed RMNP Journalists Safety Training Manual,UNESCO digital material and copies of Universal Declaration of Human Rights published by World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) among WPFD Roundtable participants Muhammad Arbi Abbasi,Muhammad Suleman Farooqi,Syed Sarfraz Hussain Zaidi,Syed Safdar Bukhari,Malik Wazir Khokhar,Shabbir Ahmad Qureshi,Dost Muhammad Qureshi,Irshad Ahmed Shad,Muhammad Zafar Khan Baloch,Ahmed Ali Chaudhry,Malik Rashad Channar,Muhammad Yameen Kamboh,Muhammad Yousaf Ghani Qureshi,Chaudhry Muhammad Arshad,Hameedullah Aziz,KhalilurRehman Khokhar,Imran Lar,Khawaja Ghulam Shabbir,Malik Sajjad Ghalu,Shahid Bashir Chaudhry,Makki Haider Jalwana,Faraz Haider Khan, Shahid Rafiq,Dr Abdul Hameed Saqib along with other participants.

Two resolution were unanimously adopted in RMNP World Press Freedom Roundtable demanding immediate release of Julian Assange and probe into the departure of slain journalist Arshad Sharif. In the first resolution,Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) demanded for the immediate release of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange on humanitarian grounds who has been held in British prison for the last four years without trial. In its second resolution ,RMNP called upon Pakistani authorities to ascertain the factors that lead to the departure of senior journalist Arshad Sharif who was shot dead in Kenya on 23rd October 2023.Participants on this occasion raised the slogans, “Journalism is not Crime”

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