New York, June 21, 2017--Pakistani authorities should ensure the safety of journalists and investigate two separate incidents in which members of the press were attacked and had equipment damaged, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
In the first incident, guards at the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad yesterday beat at least nine journalists and media workers, according to news reports. On the same day, students at Madressah Haqqania, an Islamic school in Islamabad, assaulted a news crew from Din News, broke their camera, and damaged their van, according to reports.
"Pakistani authorities must emphasize journalist safety by investigating and prosecuting the offenders in these incidents to make it clear that attackers will not be allowed to get away with impunity," said Asia CPJ Program Coordinator Steven Butler in Washington D.C. "Attacking journalists is unacceptable."
In the attack in Faisalabad, university guards kicked and beat several journalists and media workers including Samaa TV reporters Yousaf Cheema and Mudasir Nazir, their cameraman Qadeer, and driver Irshad; Neo TV reporter Waqas Sheraz; Aaj TV journalist Raheel Asghar; Dunya TV reporter Shehroz Ebadi; Metro TV cameraman named in reports only as Javeed; and Express TV cameraman Usman, according to reports. A video posted by Samaa TV shows men kicking and punching one of the station's employees on the ground. The driver, Irshad, and the unnamed cameramen were taken to a hospital for treatment, according to reports.
Cheema told the Express Tribune the guards attacked the journalists and damaged their vehicle after the news crews requested permission to report from inside the university grounds. The journalists were covering a story on the university allegedly expelling students over Facebook posts that criticized the management, according to the Express Tribune.
The University of Agriculture did not immediately respond to CPJ's request for comment. The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb condemned the attack in a statement and said assaults on the media would not be tolerated. Aurangzeb said action would be taken against the perpetrators.
CPJ could not determine if the journalists reported the incident to police.
In a separate incident in Islamabad, students at Madressah Haqqania assaulted a Din News crew, broke a camera, and used stones to damage a vehicle belonging to the station, the journalists told Dawn. Rashid Azeem, a cameraman, had two of his front teeth broken in the attack, Dawn reported. The news crew said they were attacked for covering a story about the school allegedly being involved in electricity theft. The madressah management told Dawn the journalists were beaten because they were drinking water during the day at Ramadan and refused to stop when asked to.
CPJ was unable to locate contact details for the school to seek comment. Din News did not immediately respond to CPJ's request for comment. A police official told Dawn a case had been registered against the school's management.