Saturday, September 11, 2010

PAKISTAN: A senior journalist was abducted, tortured and kept incommunicado by the intelligence agencies

AHRC, Sep 10, 2010

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the shameful act allegedly by the officials of notorious intelligence agencies and the Elite Force, a law enforcement agency of Punjab government. Mr. Umer Cheema, a senior journalist from the newspaper, daily The News International, was abducted, tortured severely and kept in incommunicado to threat and intimidate him from his professional duties. Several media reports suggest that persons from intelligence agencies carried out the act. The government has still not been able to arrest the persons responsible for the abduction and torture. In a routine way the orders to arrest the culprits and form an inquiry committee have been made by the government and the Ministry of Interior and the Lahore High Court has taken suo motto action. However, it appears that the government officials and the courts hesitate to take action against the intelligence agencies due to the culture of impunity.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to Mr. Umer Cheema, a senior journalist at The News International, a daily newspaper based in Islamabad, he was kidnapped, tortured and humiliated for six hours on 4 September. He was picked up in cloak-and-dagger style in the wee hours by men in commando uniforms and driven to a “safe house”. Here unknown persons took over; he was beaten black and blue, humiliated beyond one’s comprehension, made to strip off his clothes, hung upside down and remained in the illegal custody for hours. Finally, he was thrown out on the roadside at Talagang, 120 kilometres from Islamabad with a shaved head and a threatening message for Ansar Abbasi, the head of the newspaper’s investigative section.

Umar Cheema was a 2008 Daniel Pearl Fellow. In 2004 during General Musharraf’s government, he was deliberately hit by a moving car while doing a story on international inspection of Pakistan’s nuclear power installations.

According to the stories published in Daily The News, the kidnappers hurled abuses at the Chief Justice and cursed the editor-in-chief of the Jang Group. The kidnappers also threatened that Ansar Abbasi’s son might be kidnapped if the stories against the government were not stopped.


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