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Director-General condemns killing of Pakistani journalists Abdul Razzak Johra and Qari Mohammad Shoaib

01-12-2008 (Paris)
Director-General condemns killing of Pakistani journalists Abdul Razzak Johra and Qari Mohammad Shoaib
The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the murders of Pakistani journalists Abdul Razzak Johra, of the Royal TV network, on 3 November and Qari Mohammad Shoaib, of the Azadi and Khabar Kar newspapers, on 8 November. Mr Matsuura also voiced concern over the increasing number of attacks on reporters in the country.
“I condemn the killing of Abdul Razzak Johra and of Qari Mohammad Shoaib,” the Director-General said. “Abdul Razzak Johra’s reporting on crime has cost him his life, which shows the direct link between freedom of expression and rule of law. The need to ensure rule of law is also highlighted by tragic mistakes such as that which appears to have caused the death of Qari Mohammad Shoaib.”

“Furthermore,” Mr Matsuura added, “I am gravely concerned by reports of the increasing number of attacks and kidnappings, endured by domestic and foreign journalists in Pakistan. I trust that the authorities will spare no effort in supporting the media’s right to carry out their professional duties at the service of society as a whole.”

According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Abdul Razzak Johra, aged 45, was dragged away from his home by six armed men before he was killed on 3 November. He is reported to have been working on drug-related crimes. Local drug dealers are believed to be responsible for his murder.

Qari Mohammad Shoaib was shot dead by security forces in Mingora in the north-western Swat valley, allegedly because he failed to stop his vehicle when signalled to do so. According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), security forces admitted that Shoaib was killed by mistake.

Since then, Motoki Yotsukura, the Islamabad bureau chief of the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, and Sami Yousufzai, a correspondent for U.S. magazine Newsweek, both suffered serious injuries as they escaped a kidnapping attempt in Peshawar on 14 November.

There is also concern regarding the safety of Khadija Abdul Qahar, a Canadian formerly known as Beverly Giesbrecht, who publishes a web-based magazine. The PFUJ said she was kidnapped along with her interpreter and guide, both Pakistani nationals, on 11 November whilst travelling in a taxi to the town of Miramshah, in the North Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan.

The International Federation of Journalists reports that seven journalists have been killed in Pakistan this year.

UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this purpose the Organization is required to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
Related themes/countries

      · Pakistan
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2008
      · UNESCO Remembers Assassinated Journalists: News Archives 2008
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