Pakistan: female media worker briefly detained, intimidated for reporting protestEvent
- Initial Date
- Dec 24, 2023
- Event Description
The Coalition For Women In Journalism and Women Press Freedom strongly condemns the harassment and intimidation of a Pakistani female journalist Fatima Razzaq by unknown men for reporting the ongoing Baloch women's protest in the country’s capital city, Islamabad, for her platform Lok Sujag. No journalist should be harassed or threatened for doing their work, particularly in a democratic country where the law and Constitution are to be adhered to, as it not only stifles press freedom but also hinders a reporter’s professional duties. We urge the Pakistani government to ensure the safety and security of journalists in the country who report on marginalized people and communities.
Fatima Razzaq, a reporter for the digital platform Lok Sujag, was subjected to harassment and intimidation while she was returning home after covering the ongoing Baloch women's protest in Islamabad. Razzaq was waiting to board a bus at a local bus stand on the evening of December 24, 2023, in Rawalpindi, when she was approached and detained by five unknown individuals, two of whom were reportedly armed. She was encircled and detained for approximately 40 minutes, during which she was asked to surrender her camera and cell phone, which she bravely refused. Razzaq was also subjected to a series of absurd questions and threats warning her against continuing to report on the Baloch women's protest.
Speaking with CFWIJ, Razzaq said when covering the Baloch protests in Islamabad she felt safe and having the camera on her, which she used to film the protest, gave her a sense of confidence, as she knew she won’t be pushed aside while reporting on the ground. But that same camera later on exposed her.
Razzaq emphasized that when the people who intimidate one are unknown, there is no guarantee of what would happen. Subliminal threats, she added, where one is intimidated, harassed, not being told what they’re being targeted for, not quoting any law that one has violated or registering a first information report mentioning any charges are “hard to handle”. Razzaq said something should be devised to tackle the aforementioned tactics and ensure journalists’ protection.
“Speaking truth to power is our job. It is our livelihood and passion, and we will never give it up regardless of whatever you do” — Fatima Razzaq “Speaking truth to power is our job. It is our livelihood and passion, and we will never give it up regardless of whatever you do,” Razzaq tells CFWIJ. “There are many layers of vulnerability that are added here. Being a journalist in Pakistan, but one who covers marginalized groups and issues that the state does not like, and then being a woman covering it and being a young woman journalist.”
Razzaq further maintained that being associated with a digital platform is another layer of vulnerability, as they are not even recognized by press clubs. There is no safeguard for women journalists when they are being subjected to character assassination or harassment of a threatening nature, she said.
“There are a lot of lawyers that could hinder my work as a journalist. That’s something that I would absolutely hate,” she added.
This episode reflects a distressing trend of impeding and threatening journalists as they set out to pursue the truth. The women reporters had been extensively covering the plight of the Baloch women, particularly in the recent days since the community initiated a long march against the enforced disappearances of their people in November.
Last week on December 20, Somiayah Hafeez, a Baloch journalist, was detained by the police late at night while covering the same protest. She was, however, released the next evening after the country’s Supreme Court intervened in the matter of detained women protestors by the federal capital’s police.
The Baloch protests, spearheaded by women against the missing persons of Balochistan, represent a fundamental attempt for the protection of human rights. Like Razzaq, the reporting by Hafeez also highlighted the issues that one of Pakistan’s most marginalized communities are facing. The march against enforced disappearances began from Balochistan’s Turbat city and reached the capital, seeking freedom of the many missing and disappeared Baloch people, who are allegedly “abducted by the state,” which mainly indicates the country’s military.
The Coalition For Women In Journalism and Women Press Freedom stands in solidarity with Fatima Razzaq and all journalists who face threats and intimidation in the line of duty. Fatima Razzaq's ordeal — being encircled and detained by unknown individuals while covering the Baloch women's protest in Islamabad — is not an isolated event but part of a disturbing trend targeting journalists who dare to report on sensitive issues, especially those involving marginalized communities. Her refusal to surrender her reporting equipment in the face of such intimidation is a testament to her bravery and commitment to journalistic integrity. We urge the Pakistani government to take immediate and effective measures to ensure the safety and protection of journalists. It is imperative that a thorough investigation into this incident be conducted and those responsible be held accountable. The failure to do so not only undermines the principles of a free and independent press but also emboldens those who seek to suppress the truth through fear and coercion.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Intimidation and Threats
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of expression
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Freedom of expression
- Media Worker
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 24 December 2023, Fatima Razzaq, female media worker, was briefly detained and intimidated by unknown men for reporting the ongoing Baloch Women’s Protest in Islamabad, Pakistan.