Pakistani journalists protest growing censorship

 

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Over 100 Pakistani journalists, editors, columnists, media persons from across the media landscape in the country have endorsed this statement since it was initiated on 19 April, protesting against the ongoing curbs on freedom of expression in the country. It follows on the heels of a statement signed by prominent academics including Noam Chomsky. Besides the stifling of debate at university campuses, articles are being pulled off media websites in Pakistan like Babar Sattar’s oped (published in this blog) as well as three other pieces in The News on Sunday this past weekend. Others were not published to begin with, like Mobashir Zaidi’s oped in The News, and Gul Bukhari’s article on 16 April that The Nation didn’t run (published in Naya Daur). Statement and list below.

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Censored: Babar Sattar’s article on the Pashtun peace movement; solidarity with academic Ammar Ali Jan and Geo TV

“PTM could very well stand for Pakistan Tahafuz Movement, for peace is indivisible”

Manzoor Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, addressing a protest gathering in Peshawar on April 8. Photo: Abdul Majeed/AFP

Lawyer Babar Sattar writes an excellent weekly column in The News. This week column didn’t run because, as he tweeted, the media is banned from mentioning PTM, and Geo and the Jang Group (that publishes The News) shut down/ordered not to touch “sensitive” topics.

In the interest of freedom of express and in solidarity with the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement and those fighting for peace and democracy in Pakistan, read Babar Sattar’s article reproduced in full below (trigger warning: graphic description of child rape). Please also raise a voice in support ofthe young academic Ammar Ali Jan who has been fired from Punjab University for encouraging students to think for themselves. “Certain quarters” also warned him to stay away from Manzoor Pashteen and the PTM, otherwise he will face “dire consequences”. But this is not, as he says, a time to be silent. See his post below also. Continue reading

Pakistan’s proposed cybercrime bill threatens civil liberties on the pretext of security

The Pakistan National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology (IT) on Thursday passed a controversial cybercrime bill that industry leaders and civil society members have been protesting against – see objections in the media release below as well as the warning sounded by Bolo Bhi, a net freedoms organisation. Two earlier news reports summing up the reservations: In Dawn – New cybercrime bill tough on individuals’ rights, soft on crime and in Express Tribune – Legislative bungling: In a bill about cybercrime, MoIT inserts clauses legalising censorship.

BoloBhi Pasha Cybercrime bill update

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Op-ed supporting Pakistan’s ‘NO’ to Saudi war in Yemen taken off newspaper website

This meme that is doing the rounds on social media may be a bit harsh (not sure of original source) but it expresses the feelings of many Pakistanis.

A meme that is doing the rounds on social media (not sure of original source)

Pakistani citizens have for days been agitating against the reported decision to send troops to Yemen as requested (read “demanded”) by Saudi Arabia. It is tremendous news that the Pakistani parliament has taken a stand that supports the mood in the country. But there will be a price to pay. Just got this from an email list I am on, moderated by Shaheryar Azhar who writes: “The value of this op-ed is tremendous. Because it has been removed (from the website).. all its traces have been wiped out even though it had appeared in hard print where I had read it myself (Note: it is still there on the e-paper link). Luckily, I had received a digital copy on my email, which I had saved before the authorities (or whoever) decided to remove its existence. The Prime Minister is set to issue a policy statement on Yemen today in about an hour. If he sticks to his guns and to the unanimous Pakistani parliamentary resolution on Yemen, he will have our continued support. But if he backs off or dilutes our essential position of neutrality, he would be opposed.”

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Balochistan discussion at LUMS cancelled under pressure from ‘angels’

Censored- unsilencing balochistanJust got this press release that was read out to the LUMS student body earlier today (UPDATE: online petition at this link To the Prime Minister of Pakistan: Prevent Agencies from interfering in academic institutions; Also see this Storify by iFaqeer)

RE-SILENCING BALOCHISTAN?

Today, a roundtable on “Unsilencing Balochistan” to be held on Thursday 9 April at LUMS was cancelled due to state intervention.

The event was an academic event, gathering academics and activists involved in, or concerned by the situation in Balochistan. The guests were I. A. Rehman, director, HRCP; Aasim Sajjad, Professor, Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad; Sajjad Changezi, Activist, Alif Ailaan; Mohammed Ali Talpur, Columnist; Mama Qadeer, President VMPB; Farzana Majeed, General Secretary VMPB (Voice of Missing Persons Balochistan). Continue reading

‘Not just India’s daughter’ – article for TNS Special Report

Jyoti Singh’s death has become a global symbol and the beginning of change. Here’s hoping she did not die in vain… ‘Not just India’s daughter‘: My article for The News on Sunday Special Report on the issue

Not just India’s daughter

India has been under the spotlight for the rape and gender violence since the horrific gang rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012. That night, a 23-year-old physiotherapist on her way home from the movies with a male friend was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in the national capital. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012. Her friend who tried to save her was also brutally beaten but survived.

The BBC documentary, ‘India’s Daughter’ following up on a rape that shook not just India but the world, and the Indian government’s subsequent ban on the film has re-ignited hot debate on an issue that is relevant to far more than just India or India’s daughters. Continue reading

Censored! Pakistan blocks progressive Facebook pages

PTA censor BhensaGot the word a few hours ago. Without any notice, warning or explanation, Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has blocked several progressive pages on Facebook. Interestingly, there is no bar on the pages spewing hatred and furthering the ideology of banned groups.

The blocked pages include Laal, the largest leftist page in South Asia with over 408,000 followers. The other pages include those that post largely in Urdu and therefore reach large numbers, like: Continue reading

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