Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Pakistan 12 May 2009

Journalists flee Swat valley en masse

Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the situation in the Swat valley as the Pakistani armed forces step up their operations against the Taliban there. Newspapers had already stopped publishing after the military imposed a curfew. Now journalists are fleeing to safer areas. The Khyber Union of Journalists today urged the government to allow the media access to Mingora, the largest city in the valley.

“It is now impossible to get independently-sourced information about what is happening in the Swat valley,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Journalists are fleeing en masse. None of them wants to stay there anymore. We urge the authorities to issue journalists with permits that allow them to circulate during curfew hours. We also call for immediate measures to guarantee the security of journalists, so that they can return to the valley and resume working there.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The Swat valley has become a lawless area without news media and without journalists. This situation is unacceptable and must be remedied by the government at once.”

At a news conference today, Khyber Union of Journalists president Mohammad Riaz said: “There is a complete blackout of news from Swat, Buner and Dir. There is no source of dissemination of news. No one is aware about the actual situation.”

Swat press club president Salahuddin Khan told Reporters Without Borders yesterday that all the journalists had left the valley and that it was “now without any news media.”

Veteran journalists such as Ghulam Farooq, the editor of Shamal, and Fayyaz Zafar, the editor of the online newspaper Zama Swat, left Swat on 7 May and moved to cities such as Peshawar. “I have just left with my family and I am staying with a friend a long way from Mingora as journalism is no longer an easy trade to practice,” Farooq told Reporters Without Borders by phone.

A few journalists such as TV reporter Shireenzada had been holding on despite the danger. He told Reporters Without Borders a few days ago: “Let’s hope nothing serious happens.” He said he had stockpiled fuel and food for the difficult days to come. He was the last reporter to try to provide information about what was happening in the combat zone.

Shireenzada finally pulled out for safety reasons yesterday. “I have also left Swat with my family because it is extremely hard to be a journalist in the current situation,” he said. “Swat is now without any journalists.”

Shireenzada said there were still several thousand inhabitants trapped in Mingora waiting for the end of the curfew in order to leave for safer areas. He added that they would soon run out of water and food because of the lack of electricity and the curfew.




In this country
26 May - Pakistan
Video on plight of Swat valley journalists
26 May - Pakistan
Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists
15 May - Pakistan
Emergency funds for journalists who have had to flee Swat valley fighting
6 May - Pakistan
Media in danger in Swat valley
29 April - Pakistan
Taliban threaten press with “terrible consequences” in Swat valley

in the annual report
Pakistan - Annual report 2007
Pakistan - Annual report 2006

reports
4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election
archives

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised