“I condemn the attack on the Peshawar Press Club,” declared the Director-General. “Violence against the media is particularly reprehensible as it undermines the fundamental human right of freedom of expression and its corollary, press freedom. Nothing good will come to the people of Pakistan from those who use violence to muzzle informed political debate, and I trust that the authorities will do all they can to ensure that journalists are able to continue exercising their profession.”
Four people, including Mian Iqbal Shah, the police head constable guarding the press club, the press club's accountant and two passers-by were killed in the suicide bombing. A further 23 people were injured, including several journalists.
Peshawar, the capital of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), has been the target of violent attacks in recent months in reprisals for the Pakistani military campaign against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in nearby tribal areas. According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), media personnel in the NWFP, Balochistan and other sensitive areas are being threatened by terrorist groups, including the Taliban, who want to stop journalists from reporting on their activities.
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 the Organization is requested 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…”
Author(s): Press Release No.2009 - 157 - Source: UNESCOPRESS - Publication Date: 24-12-2009