Activists, journalists and intellectuals worldwide call for release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman

Web Desk
Jang/Geo Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakilur Rahman. Photo: File

The following statement calling for the fair treatment of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman has been endorsed by a growing number of prominent rights activists, academicians, journalist, intellectuals and politicians worldwide. 

Statement calling for fair treatment 

The arrest of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the editor-in-chief of the Jang Media Group, Pakistan, has taken place without a free trial or a conviction against him. Not only has the trial not even begun, but no charges have even been framed against him.

Yet he has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under international law, if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction, it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.

Rahman has been cooperating with the authorities about the case which is related to a 34-year old property transaction between two private parties. He presented himself before the investigators, flying in from outside the country.

There is no reason to not release Rahman from the National Accountability Bureau jail, particularly at a time when the global coronavirus pandemic is leading governments to set free non-violent prisoners with no criminal record, particularly if they are elderly and have health issues as Rahman does.

Let the case continue against him if there is merit. Let him be arrested if he is found guilty after a trial. This what fundamental rights are about. This is what an elected government that claims to be democratic should ensure.

Statement endorsed by voices in academia outside Pakistan:

1. Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor U. of Arizona

2. Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University

3. Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History, Director, Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, Tufts University

4. Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University

5. Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard University; co-founder, Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP)

6. Rajmohan Gandhi, Research Professor at the College of Education, former Professor, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US; grandson of Mahatma Gandhi

7. Shahla Haeri, Associate Prof. of Anthropology, Boston University; former Fullbright Scholar Lahore, Pakistan

8. Beena Sarwar, visiting faculty, Journalism Department, Emerson College; former visiting journalism professor, Brown University; former Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University

9. Kamran Asdar Ali, Professor, Department of Anthropology. University of Texas, Austin

10. Mariam Chughtai, Director Pakistan Programs, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University; Assistant Professor; Associate Dean, Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib Ali School of Education, Lahore University of Management Sciences

11. Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia

12. Raza Rumi, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College; Visiting faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs; Founding Editor, Nayadaur Media

13. Wajahat S. Khan, Columbia University, freelance producer-correspondent

The following have also called for the release of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, condemning his incarceration:

Human rights activists and journalists abroad

1. Antje Stiebitz, Radio Deutschland Kulture, journalist, Berlin, Germany

2. Arnold Zeitlin, former AP corrrespondent in Pakistan

3. Dr. Ahamed Frassini, Palestinian journalist filmmaker, Brussels, Belgium

4. Dr. Ewout Klei, Editor De Kanttekaning magazine, The Netherlands

5. John Pilger, investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, UK

6. Marjon Lucas, activist, Netherlands

7. Maria Laura Franciosi, Founding President, International European Press Club Brussels; member Italian News Agency ANSA and Italian Association of Journalists

8. Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire

Pakistani expatriates

1. Abbas Nasir, former Editor Dawn; former Editor Asia-Pacific, BBC World Service, London

2. Afaq Farooqi, editor Pakistan Post, New York

3. Ahmad Faruqui, Ph. D., Author, “Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan”, Columnist, and Energy Economist, San Francisco, California

4. Aliya Salahuddin, journalist; former producer, Geo TV; Italy

5. Fifi Haroon, journalist, London

6. Mahmud Jafri, Board of Overseers WGBH, CEO, Dover Rug & Home, Boston

7. Masood Khan, architect, planner and heritage preservationist, Boston

8. Naseem Shekhani, MD, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; President APPNA 2019.

9. Qamar Rafiq, Pakistani Christian Diaspora South West Country, UK

10. Reema Omer, Legal Advisor, South Asia, International Commission of Jurists,

11. Siraj Khan, Interim CFO, PoliKey Inc. Sharon MA, Business Advisory Board-Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill MA, Goodwill Ambassador SPELT Pakistan, former President, Pakistan Association of Greater Boston,USA.

12. Sughra Raza, MD, FACR, Associate Prof Radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

13. Sulema Jahangir, dual qualified solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; Advocate of the High Courts in Pakistan

14. Tanvir Khan, retired television producer and special needs worker, Boston

15. Tayyaba Hasan PhD, Professor of Dermatology and Health Sciences Technology, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Program

16. Umber Khairi, co-founder, Newsline, former producer, presenter BBC London

17. Sheherbano Mehdi, MD, Los Angeles, USA

Intellectuals, activists, journalists in Pakistan

18. Abid Hasan Minto, advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan

19. Dr. Adib ul Hasan Rizvi, SIUT, Karachi

20. Dr. A. H. Nayyar, physicist; retired professor QAU

21. Dr. Akmal Hussain, Distinguished Professor, Information Technology University, Lahore

22. Azhar Munir, researcher, writer, poet (on hunger strike for MSR’s release since March 29), Lahore

23. I.A. Rehman, journalist, former editor Pakistan Times, former director HRCP

24. Iftikhar Ahmed, journalist

25. Iftikhar Arif, poet

26. Kamran Khan, journalist, Dunya News

27. Kishwar Naheed, poet, former head PNCA, Islamabad

28. Dr. Mehdi Hasan, Chairperson HRCP

29. Mohammad Hanif, author and journalist

30. Munizae Jahangir, journalist,

31. Owais Aslam Ali, Chairman Pakistan Press International (PPI)

32. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist

33. Pirzada Qasim, poet and scholar

34. Saleem Asmi, former Editor, Dawn

35. Zohra Yusuf, former Editor Star Weekend; former Chair HRCP

Media and human rights bodies

1. Amnesty International

2. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

3. Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE)

4. Human Rights Commisson of Pakistan (HRCP)

5. Human Rights Watch (HRW)

6. Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)

7. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

8. South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)/Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative