Friday, June 16, 2006

Pakistani Journalist found dead six months after he went missing

Dear Friends,

It was shocking news for me in Canada. This morning when on the other side of the phone line my friend Shaheen told me that our good friend Hayat Ullah's dead body was found in the tribal areas of Pakistan. I always pray for all reporters, who are working on the frontline in the conflicted zones. At the same time I realize that how lucky we are in Canada, where we can practice our profession without any fear of police encounters. As you know I was reporting in the same country few years back. You cannot imagine how much torture and punishment were given to reporters in that lawless region.
Those butchers handcuffed my friend and kept him without food for many weeks.
His hands were cuffed on his back. Even I am living in Canada for few years but I still feel handcuffs on my hands whenever I hear any news that my friend journalist are being killed or tortured by authorities or Tribe Leaders.

Reporters Without Borders said it was sickened by the discovery of the body of journalist Hayatullah Khan in the tribal zone of North Waziristan more than six months after he went missing. He had been shot several times in the head.
Five armed men abducted Khan, a reporter on the Urdu-language daily Ausaf and photographer for the European Press Photo Agency (EPA), in Mir Ali on 5 December 2005.
His abduction came days after he contradicted Pakistani army claims that the death of Hamza Rabia, a leading Arab militant in al-Qaeda, and four others on 1 December was the result of an accidental munitions explosion. On the basis of photographs he took at the scene, Khan said Rabia was killed by a US missile. Villagers said the explosion was caused by a missile fired from a plane or a drone.
"The death of Hayatullah Khan leaves a very bitter taste," the press freedom organisation said. "Even if there is nothing to clearly identify the killers, many people have accused the Pakistani secret services of responsibility for the abduction of this journalist, who came from the tribal areas".
"If the authorities want to avoid the finger of suspicion being pointed at them, they should urgently carry out a rigorous and impartial investigation," it added.
"Sadly the campaign which international organisations organised, with his family and members of the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), did not succeed in our rescuing Hayatullah Khan. This case must prompt us to tirelessly defend journalists in the Pakistani tribal areas who are caught in the middle of the conflict".
Khan’s body was found on 16 June in the mountainous region of Khaisor, four kilometres south of Mir Ali. A Pakistani official based in Mir Ali confirmed to Reporters Without Borders that the body had been identified and returned to his family.
One source told Reporters Without Borders that there were bullet wounds to Khan’s head. "He was handcuffed, looked very weak and wore a long beard, which made it seems as though he had been through a very hard time in captivity."
"As friends and colleagues, we are shocked by his death," said Sailab Mehsud, President of the TUJ. During the six months he was missing, many Pakistani journalists had made it clear they suspected the military secret services of involvement.
Pervez Shaukat, President of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, had in February, accused the authorities or harassing those who were campaigning for Khan’s release. One government source told journalists in Peshawar, "The more noise you make, the more you prolong Hayatullah’s captivity."
After the US authorities were accused of holding the journalist, US Consul in Peshawar, Mike Spangler, said on 10 May that the United States had "read the reports on the disappearance of Hayatullah Khan (...), but is not in possession of any information about him."
He was arrested in an arbitrary fashion by US forces in 2002 when he was trying to cover al-Qaeda and Taliban activity in the border region. In 2003, the Pakistani military also harassed him the following year after he wrote about the misuse of army vehicles in Mir Ali.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The work of journalists in the Kashmir and Tribal zones Pakistan remains as dangreous as ever (RSF)

Pakistan - Annual report 2006
President Pervez Musharraf alternately directed his ire on the media challenging his alliance with the United States and the investigative press that exposes corruption and abuse of power. The work of journalists in the tribal zones and Kashmir remains as dangerous as ever.
In May 2005, parliament adopted contradictory amendments to the law on electronic media. They liberalised the sector, but gave the authorities the right to seize equipment, withdraw licences, initiate investigations and to make arrests without a warrant. Any infringement of the law could mean up to three years in prison. In November police applied the law, closing Mast FM 103 radio for relaying a special programme on the earthquake from the Urdu service of the BBC World Service.
Although badly shaken by Jihadist terrorism, Pakistan has a dynamic and pluralist press. The English-language publications are freer of control than the popular Urdu newspapers. But investigative journalists are constantly targeted by military security services, which have no hesitation in harassing anyone they find troublesome. This was the case with Rashid Channa, a journalist with the daily Star, kidnapped for several hours in Karachi.
On the other hand, a special court in Quetta dropped charges in March against journalist Khawar Mehdi whom the army had held secretly and tortured for several weeks for having accompanied two French reporters to the Afghan border in 2003. Gen. Musharraf accused the journalist, who was forced into exile, of having betrayed his country for a few dollars.
Two correspondents for the foreign press were killed in the tribal zones and the murder investigation has gone nowhere. Journalists must deal both with threats from the Taliban and the surveillance and the obstruction of the military. In December, a correspondent for two national dailies was abducted in mysterious circumstances in Waziristan, after he contradicted the official version of the death of an al-Qaeda leader.
The local press operates with difficulty in Kashmir, which was shaken by a major earthquake on 8 October 2005. After largely facilitating access for hundreds of Pakistani and foreign journalists, the army in December imposed restrictions on the movement of reporters and a BBC team was sent back from a remote region.
More generally, the authorities take a dim view of investigations by foreign journalists. In August, three film-makers, two Swedes and one Briton of Afghan origin, were held for two weeks for filming near a military base. Despite a thaw in relations with India, a journalist from New Delhi was expelled in July.
Confronted by a radical press that fosters jihadism, the authorities launched a major operation in Karachi in July to shut down hate media. But searches and arrests also affected less radical journalists.


The Public Security Bureau's formal refusal on 17 May to allow detained blogger and documentary filmmaker Hao Wu access to a lawyer on national security grounds is "absurd," Reporters Without Borders said today, as Hao began his fourth month in detention."Hao's case is emblematic of the PSB's methods," the press freedom organisation said. "It is farcical to treat this blogger as a threat to national security. Is there any serious possibility that letting a prisoner of conscience have a lawyer might destabilise the Chinese government?"A formal request for Hao to be defended by a lawyer was filed with the PSB by his sister, Na Wu, who has reported on her blog ( "It appears that all efforts to seek legal help have reached a dead end."According to the authorities, Hao is currently under "house arrest." He cannot receive visits or telephone his family. The PSB is also still refusing to tell him why he has been arrested. But it has reportedly undertaken to make a statement to the family by August, which would be six months after his arrest.Hao had a blog called Beijing or Bust in which he wrote under the pseudonym of Beijing Loafer. He was also the North-East Asia editor of the website Global Voices, to which he contributed under the name of Tian Yi. He was arrested on 22 February while preparing a report on China's underground protestant churches.Global Voices has set up a Hao support site:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Please don't let history repeat itself.

Dear Friends it was very shocking news for me once i learned one more writer is facing risk of life in Iran. I request all of you to show up at the vigil for Iranian scholor. Vigil for the imprisoned Canadian-Iranian Scholar Ramin JahanbeglooThe ad-hoc committee for the freedom of Ramin Jahanbegloo asks all Canadians togather on Sunday, May 14, 2006 at 4:00pm in front of OISE, 252 Bloor St. West(right next to St. George subway station), to demand the immediate release ofthis Canadian-Iranian academic currently held in Iran?s Evin prison.Iranian-Canadian academic, Ramin Jahanbegloo, was arrested on 27 April atTehran's MehrabadAirport. He is now believed to be held incommunicado in EvinPrison, in Tehran, where he is at risk of torture or ill-treatment.The Canadian government is believed to be making representations on his behalf.However, Zahra Kazemi, another Canadian-Iranian national, died in custody inhospital in June 2003 allegedly as a result of torture after being detained inEvin Prison. To date, no one has been brought to justice in connection with herdeath.Amnesty International, PEN Canada, and his colleagues in Canadian and Europeanuniversities are extremely concerned over the arrest and detention of RaminJahanbegloo and demands that he be released immediately and unconditionally.Please visit the following web page for updates on his recent arrest andcurrent situation:

We also call on Iranian government to disclose the reasons for his arrest. Wealso seek assurances that Jahanbegloo not be tortured while in custody and thathe receives any medical attention that may be required.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Newspaper van attacked and burned down in Pakistan

Sialkot Pakistan:

April 24, 2006

Pakistan Press Club (PPC) today condemned the attack on newspaper delivery van in Pakistan.
In Pakistan’s tribel area Southern Wazirastan, Tehsil Mir Ali Monday morning, local Taliban burned down the newspaper bundles coming from Peshawer. And they warned the newspapers that they should stop writing about Taliban as a terrorist.

According to details local Taliban burned down all the English and Urdu newspapers in the central square of Mir Ali.

Taliban Commander Sadiq Noor’s supporters said to the residents of Mir Ali that Newspapers were quoting them as terrorist so they would not tolerate that and would do every thing possible to stop these newspapers.

Two days ago local Taliban Commander Sadiq Noor’s spokesman Moulana Tariq Jameel announced that in tribal areas the government servants, military officials, and supporters would be shot to death the moment they saw them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Pakistan's Baloch Voice TV MD went missing

Pakistan’s first Baloch language TV’s Managing Director went missing from Karachi. According to details Munir Mangal MD for the first ever baloch language TV “Baloch Voice: went missing from Karachi on April 7. He arrived from Bahrain to Karachi on April 7 after that he went missing.
According to his sister Aziza Mengal, who lives in Khuzdaar that on April 7 when he arrived from Bahrain to Karachi air port he was arrested by secret services.
His sister told on Phone that he was not allowed to met any relative and neither any one no where he is at the moment.
She fears that he is being tortured mentally and physically. Even though he have no she told he never had any relationship with any political party.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Radio Booster blown up in Pakistan

Sialkot (Pakistan), March 21, 2006: Pakistan Press Club (PPC) today condemned the attack on radio station in Pakistan. A radio booster was blown up in this South Waziristan Agency headquarters town on Sunday night March 19. Officials said the explosion, which took place at about 1:30am, had destroyed the aerial transmission unit and antenna of the radio station.The radio station had suspended its broadcasts after the explosion, AFP quoted senior producer Humayun Khan as saying.The government had installed the low frequency radio station in Wana in July 2004, which regularly broadcast programmes in Pashtu language.The radio station was installed to counter the propaganda of the militants and educate local people about development schemes in the area near Afghan border.The radio booster had come under attack soon after its installation in 2004. Militants blow up radio tower in Pakistani tribal town.

ISLAMABAD March 21, 2006: The journalists covering Senate proceedings on Monday March 20 staged a walkout at the upper house to protest, what was termed as, administrative harassment of a fellow journalist working in Karachi.The government later assured the mediapersons that it would launch an inquiry into the matter and take action if necessary.The protesting journalists informed the deputy chairman Senate, Mir Jan Mohammad Jamali, and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Raza Hayat Harraj, who visited the press gallery that their colleague Rashid Channa, a reporter in Star Karachi, had been receiving threats for last few days and his house was also burgled last week.The journalists demanded that the government should investigate the matter and take suitable action against those harassing their colleague.They also raised the issue of some 20 local journalists who were taken to Basha dam site by some northern areas officials, arrested, and then left stranded in Mansehra.Mr Harraj said the interior minister had been informed about the case of Karachi journalist, while the matter pertaining to northern areas would be conveyed to Kashmir Affairs Minister Faisal Saleh Hayat for necessary action.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pakistani Authorities blocked 12 websites, including

Journalists in one of the most dangerous zone for reporters are concerned about the decision of the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), to block access to twelve websites which posted the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed which appeared in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten.
The PTA on 28 February ordered Internet Service Providers to block the website (or, taking down thousands of weblogs hosted by this tool.
“We believe that the decision to ban a website should only ever be taken by a judge, at the end of a fair trial. It is moreover unacceptable that the order to block a site should go through the PTA, which while apparently aiming at one blog hosted by, led to the filtering of all websites sharing the same domain name,” said the organisation.
This order from the PTA comes around ten days after a petition calling on the government to ban the spread of “blasphemous content” through the Internet, was submitted to the Supreme Court. The court on 2 March formally asked the government to take such a step.
The bloggers network Global Voices, which revealed the case on its site, has been posting information about campaigns launched by bloggers to condemn the filtering.
Local access providers have applied the PTA decision by blocking access to all sites whose URL incorporates, that is all sites hosted by this service. It is however technically possible to ban access solely to a blog causing a problem.

Gitmo thug: Osama said he's prophet

A Pakistani millionaire held at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay testified that he met Osama Bin Laden twice and the Al Qaeda leader called himself "a prophet."
The testimony of Saifullah Paracha was included in thousands of pages of transcripts released Friday by the Pentagon because of a successful Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The Associated Press.
Paracha, a New York Institute of Technology graduate, testified in English. He said he owns seven businesses, including a news agency, a construction agency and a manufacturing company in Pakistan, and travel agencies in New York, Chicago, Washington and San Francisco.
In 1999, Paracha said, he met Bin Laden in Afghanistan. The following year, he returned to Afghanistan to interview Bin Laden for his news agency, Universal Broadcast Ltd.
"He delivered [preached] the Koran, and said he was a prophet," Paracha said. "He said very nice things, very impressive."
But Paracha denied all the accusations raised in the January 2005 tribunal, conducted to determine whether he was properly classified as an "enemy combatant." Those accusations included money laundering for Al Qaeda, plotting to smuggle explosives into the U.S. and recommending that nuclear weapons be used against U.S. soldiers.
Paracha's son, Uzair Paracha, faces up to 75 years in prison after his November conviction in New York for providing material support to terrorists.

Monday, March 06, 2006

BBC reporter Arrested in Pakistan.

Sialkot: Pakistan
March 06, 2006.

Pakistan Press Club (PPC) today urged the Pakistani Government to act against military officials arresting and threatening journalists working in tribal areas.
The threats to journalists especially foreign correspondents are unacceptable,”Mohsin Abbas said, and we call on military authorities to take steps to deal with those who harass and arrest reporters who are working in tribal areas.

Today (Monday) morning BBC Correspondent Haroon Rasheed was arrested in Wazirastan area of Pakistan and kept in the military custody for few hours. Also two other western journalists were not allowed to enter the area. In this area for past three days military is fighting with Taliban warlords. There had been a lot of causalities in the region.

Haroon Rasheed is BBC correspondent from Peshawar Pakistan. He was arrested on Monday morning at a security check post near Meran Shah.

These are the fiercest clashes between security forces and pro-Taliban militants since the army went into the lawless area more than three years ago.
The number of dead has gone up to 73, including five soldiers and a civilian, after three days of clashes between the army and militants, the army says.

Authorities told no reason for arresting Haroon Rasheed. After his release he was ordered to leave the area. For few months military is not allowing reporters to enter North and south Wazirastaan. Especially The reporters from foreign media outlets are not allowed in the region.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The amazing DIY village FM radio station

The amazing DIY village FM radio station

Raghav's childhood friend Sambhu is the radio jockey (Photos: Prashant Ravi)
It may well be the only village FM radio station on the Asian sub-continent. It is certainly illegal.
The transmission equipment, costing just over $1, may be the cheapest in the world.
But the local people definitely love it.
On a balmy morning in India's northern state of Bihar, young Raghav Mahato gets ready to fire up his home-grown FM radio station.
Hundreds of villagers, living in a 20km (12 miles) radius of Raghav's small repair shop and radio station in Mansoorpur village in Vaishali district, tune their $5 radio sets to catch their favourite station.
After the crackle of static, a young, confident voice floats up the radio waves.
"Good morning! Welcome to Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1! Now listen to your favourite songs," announces anchor and friend Sambhu into a sellotape-plastered microphone surrounded by racks of local music tapes.
For the next 12 hours, Raghav Mahato's outback FM radio station plays films songs and broadcasts public interest messages on HIV and polio, and even snappy local news, including alerts on missing children and the opening of local shops.
Raghav and his friend run the indigenous radio station out of Raghav's thatched-roof Priya Electronics Shop.
The place is a cramped $4-a-month rented shack stacked with music tapes and rusty electrical appliances which doubles up as Raghav's radio station and repair shop.

I just did it out of curiosity and increased its area of transmission every year
Raghav MahatoHe may not be literate, but Raghav's ingenuous FM station has made him more popular than local politicians.
Raghav's love affair with the radio began in 1997 when he started out as a mechanic in a local repair shop. When the shop owner left the area, Raghav, son of a cancer-ridden farm worker, took over the shack with his friend.
Sometime in 2003, Raghav, who by now had learned much about radio mechanics, thought up the idea of launching an FM station.
It was a perfect idea. In impoverished Bihar state, where many areas lack power supplies, the cheap battery-powered transistor remains the most popular source of entertainment.
"It took a long time to come up with the idea and make the kit which could transmit my programmes at a fixed radio frequency. The kit cost me 50 rupees (just over $1)," says Raghav.
The transmission kit is fitted on to an antenna attached to a bamboo pole on a neighbouring three-storey hospital.
A long wire connects the contraption to a creaky, old homemade stereo cassette player in Raghav's radio shack. Three other rusty, locally made battery-powered tape recorders are connected to it with colourful wires and a cordless microphone.

The radio station is a repair shop and studio rolled into oneThe shack has some 200 tapes of local Bhojpuri, Bollywood and devotional songs which Raghav plays for his listeners.
Raghav's station is truly a labour of love - he does not earn anything from it. His electronic repair shop work brings him some two thousand rupees ($45) a month.
The young man, who continues to live in a shack with his family, doesn't know that running a FM station requires a government licence.
"I don't know about this. I just began this out of curiosity and expanded its area of transmission every year," he says.
Local hero
So when some people told him sometime ago that his station was illegal, he actually shut it down. But local villagers thronged his shack and persuaded him to resume services again.
It hardly matters for the locals that Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1 does not have a government license - they just love it.

Raghav makes his living from repairing electronic goods"Women listen to my station more than men," he says. "Though Bollywood and local Bhojpuri songs are staple diet, I air devotional songs at dawn and dusk for women and old people."
Since there's no phone-in facility, people send their requests for songs through couriers carrying handwritten messages and phone calls to a neighbouring public telephone office.
Raghav's fame as the 'promoter' of a radio station has spread far and wide in Bihar.
People have written to him, wanting work at his station, and evinced interest in buying his 'technology'.
"But I will never share the secret of my technology with anyone. This is my creation. How can I share it with somebody who might misuse it?" he asks.
"With more powerful and advanced chips and equipment I can make a kit which could be transmitted up to 100km or even more."
A government radio engineer in Bihar's capital, Patna, says it is possible to use a homemade kit to run a FM radio station.

The station is a rage with listeners in the area"All it needs is an antenna and transmitting equipment. But such stations offer no security. Anyone can invade and encroach such locally made transmitters," says HK Sinha of India's state-run broadcaster All India Radio (AIR).
But people in Mansoorpur are in awe of Raghav's radio station and say it gives their village an identity.
"The boy has intense potential, but he is very poor. If the government lends him some support, he would go far," says Sanjay Kumar, an ardent fan of his station.
But for the moment Raghav FM Mansoorpur 1 rocks on the local airwaves, bring joy into the lives of the locals.