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Pakistan 30 August 2006

Sindh newspaper reporter tortured and humiliated, while police refuse to investigate

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the beating, torture and humiliation of Daily Sham reporter Omar Soomro, who was kidnapped by supporters of a local politician on 27 August in Umerkot, in the southeastern province of Sindh, and then dumped at a bus stop, unconscious and with his head shaved. The police have refused to investigate.

“We are deeply shocked by the violent and humiliating treatment Soomro received at the hands of people who took him to task for criticising the brother of an adviser of Sindh’s chief minister,” the press freedom organisation said. “The attitude of the local police is appalling. We call for an immediate investigation, and for those responsible for the attack to be severely punished.”

Soomro was returning home when several supporters of parliamentarian Ali Bukhsh Mangerio forced him into their car at gunpoint and took him to a gas station, where they tortured him and shaved his moustache, eyebrows and half of his head. Soomro lost consciousness as a result of the pain. When he came round, he had been dumped at a bus stop.

In rural areas, shaving a man is considered very humiliating especially when, as was the case with Soomro, his shaven head was shown on local television. Journalists in Umerkot said the local police refused to receive Soomro’s complaint for fear of reprisals.

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