Monday, September 21, 2020
Brussels: Demonstrations were held in the European Union capital Brussels today against the illegal detention of Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, the Editor-in-Chief of the Jang and Geo Media Group, for keeping him under illegal detention for seven months now.
The demonstration, which took place at the headquarters of the European Commission, the European Council, and the European External Action Service, was attended by international journalists, intellectuals, and political workers belonging to Pakistani political parties based here. Belgium international journalists organisations such as Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Human Rights Watch also expressed support for the veteran journalist.
Meanwhile, the protesters held up pictures of MSR and various banners calling for his release while chanting slogans such as "Release Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman", "Stop Violation of the Constitution of Pakistan", particularly Article 19 of the constitution.
Speaking on the occasion, Palestinian journalist Dr Ahmed Farasini said that press restrictions never helped dictatorial/elected governments as they are counterproductive and tarnished the image of the regime and the country.
"Free speech is mandatory for peace and development," Dr Ahmed Farasini added, saying that there are serious threats to journalism in different parts of the world. He said that he had found Pakistani journalists brave and courageous like Mr Rahman.
Speakers and demonstrators called on the EU to help Pakistan to respect, protect journalists according to the international conventions which Pakistan is a party to. They said that principles of a free press are in Pakistan's interests for its development, its democracy, and international relations.
The political workers also spoke at the Demonstration, lending full support in the struggle to secure press freedom. PPP Belgium leaders Haji Wasim Akhtar, Malik Muhammad Ajmal, Malik Akhlaq Ahmed, PML-N Belgium leaders Ghiasuddin Bhatti, Sheikh Ilyas, and Sheikh Majid while JKLF Europe Zone leader Ashfaq Qamar in their speeches stressed for the implementation of the Constitution.
They demanded that journalists be guaranteed protection that they have been offered in the Constitution as a result of freedom of speech and expression in Article 19. The speakers said that journalism plays a pivotal role in democracy in any society.
Where journalism is not free and there are restrictions on what to say and what to hide, human freedoms are threatened. Without freedom of the press, the development of the people becomes a dream, the speakers said.
The demonstration was limited due to the coronavirus where the participants partook under compliance of COVID-19 SOPs. Senior journalists of Geo Europe and Jang Khalid Hameed and Hafiz Unib Rashid also addressed the demonstration. While Rao Mustajab Ahmed, Convener of National Liberation Front of Europe. Khalid Joshi, Zulfiqar Ali, Masood Mir, Mirza Shabbir Jral, Mian Ghafoor, Chaudhry Imran Saqib, and Azeem Dar took part as well.