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Pakistan 1 May 2008

Held for two years, Baloch journalist still fears for his life

Reporters Without Borders calls on the federal government to order the military intelligence services to stop harassing Munir Mengal, one of the originators of a proposed Balochi-language satellite TV station to be called Baloch Voice. Freed in February after being held for two years, first by the military and then by the police, Mengal says he still fears for his life.

"Instead of watching and intimidating this man, who spent two years in detention just for wanting to create a TV station for the Baloch, the authorities should give him financial compensation," the press freedom organisation said. "This case should prompt the new government to look into the many kidnappings and disappearances of journalists, especially those from Balochistan."

"I still fear for my life," Mengal said in an interview for the BBC World Service’s Urdu-language service. "Intelligence agents continue to follow me." He said was freed on 23 February after a new government was elected in Balochistan province. As requested by the security forces, he decided to refrain from immediately announcing his release, for fear of being re-arrested. He is now living in the Qalat district of Balochistan.

After his arrest at Karachi international airport on 4 April 2006, he was held in the Malir military camp in the town of Sud. He said the military kept asking him why an educated Baloch like himself continued to support the Baloch nationalists. They told him they had arrested him to prevent him from talking to the media. He said he always insisted on his innocence despite being subjected to long sessions of torture.

"Wherever I go, I’m afraid for my life," he told the BBC World Service. "They prevent me from talking and writing."




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