New Delhi: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and well-known American intellectual Noam Chomsky are among the slew of international personalities calling for the release of the editor-in-chief of Pakistan’s Jang media group, Mir Shakilur Rahman.
Rahman, whose media group has been facing the brunt from the Pakistan government, has been in jail since March 12 in a property dispute. On Tuesday, the Pakistan accountability court extended his judicial remand till May 12.
He has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under international law, if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction, it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.
The full text of the statement is below.
The arrest of Mir Shakilur Rahman, the editor-in-chief of the Jang media group, Pakistan, has taken place without a free trial or a conviction against him. Not only has the trial not even begun, but no charges have even been framed against him.
Yet he has been in a lockup now for over a month, since March 12, practically in solitary confinement. Under international law if a prisoner spends more than 22 hours alone in prison without meaningful human interaction it is considered solitary confinement, the psychological and health damage of which can be permanent.
Rahman has been cooperating with the authorities about the case which is related to a 34-year old property transaction between two private parties. He presented himself before the investigators, flying in from outside the country.
There is no reason to not release Rahman from the National Accountability Bureau jail, particularly at a time when the global coronavirus pandemic is leading governments to set free non-violent prisoners with no criminal record, particularly if they are elderly and have health issues as Rahman does.
Let the case continue against him if there is merit. Let him be arrested if he is found guilty after a trial. This what fundamental rights are about. This is what an elected government that claims to be democratic should ensure.
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor (emeritus) MIT, Laureate Professor U. of Arizona
Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University
Ayesha Jalal, Mary Richardson Professor of History, Director, Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, Tufts University
Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University
Asim Ijaz Khwaja, Director, Center for International Development, Harvard University; co-founder, Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP)
Rajmohan Gandhi, Research Professor at the College of Education, former Professor, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US; grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
Shahla Haeri, Associate Prof. of Anthropology, Boston University; former Fullbright Scholar Lahore, Pakistan
Beena Sarwar, visiting faculty, Journalism Department, Emerson College; former visiting journalism professor, Brown University; former Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University
Kamran Asdar Ali, Professor, Department of Anthropology. University of Texas, Austin
Mariam Chughtai, Director Pakistan Programs, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, Harvard University; Assistant Professor; Associate Dean, Syed Ahsan Ali & Syed Maratib Ali School of Education, Lahore University of Management Sciences
Waqas Khwaja, Ellen Douglass Leyburn Professor of English, Agnes Scott College, Atlanta, Georgia
Raza Rumi, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College; Visiting faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs; Founding Editor, Nayadaur Media
Wajahat S. Khan, Columbia University, freelance producer-correspondent
The following have also called for the release of Mir Shakilur Rahman, condemning his incarceration listed below (Being updated, alphabetically)
Human rights activists and journalists abroad
Antje Stiebitz, Radio Deutschland Kulture, journalist, Berlin, Germany
Arnold Zeitlin, former AP correspondent in Pakistan
Dr. Ahamed Frassini, Palestinian journalist filmmaker, Brussels, Belgium
Dr. Ewout Klei, Editor De Kanttekaning magazine, The Netherlands
John Pilger, investigative journalist and documentary film-maker, UK
Marjon Lucas, activist, Netherlands
Maria Laura Franciosi, Founding President, International European Press Club Brussels; member Italian News Agency ANSA and Italian Association of Journalists
Siddharth Varadarajan, Founding Editor, The Wire
Abbas Nasir, former Editor Dawn; former Editor Asia-Pacific, BBC World Service, London
Afaq Farooqi, editor Pakistan Post, New York
Ahmad Faruqui, Ph. D., Author, “Rethinking the National Security of Pakistan”, Columnist, and Energy Economist, San Francisco, California
Aliya Salahuddin, journalist; former producer, Geo TV; Italy
Fifi Haroon, journalist, London
Mahmud Jafri, Board of Overseers WGBH, CEO, Dover Rug & Home, Boston
Masood Khan, architect, planner and heritage preservationist, Boston
Naseem Shekhani, MD, St. Louis, Missouri, USA; President APPNA 2019.
Qamar Rafiq, Pakistani Christian Diaspora South West Country, UK
Siraj Khan, Interim CFO, PoliKey Inc. Sharon MA, Business Advisory Board-Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill MA, Goodwill Ambassador SPELT Pakistan, former President, Pakistan Association of Greater Boston,USA.
Sughra Raza, MD, FACR, Associate Prof Radiology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Sulema Jahangir, dual qualified solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales; Advocate of the High Courts in Pakistan
Tanvir Khan, retired television producer and special needs worker, Boston
Tayyaba Hasan PhD, Professor of Dermatology and Health Sciences Technology, Harvard Medical School and Harvard-MIT Program
Umber Khairi, co-founder, Newsline, former producer, presenter BBC London
Intellectuals, activists, journalists in Pakistan
Abid Hasan Minto, advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan
Dr. Adib ul Hasan Rizvi, SIUT, Karachi
Dr. A. H. Nayyar, physicist; retired professor QAU
Dr. Akmal Hussain, Distinguished Professor, Information Technology University, Lahore
Azhar Munir, researcher, writer, poet (on hunger strike for MSR’s release since March 29), Lahore
I.A. Rehman, journalist, former editor Pakistan Times, former director HRCP
Iftikhar Arif, poet
Kamran Khan, journalist, Dunya News
Kishwar Naheed, poet, former head PNCA, Islamabad
Dr. Mehdi Hasan, Chairperson HRCP
Mohammad Hanif, author and journalist
Munizae Jahangir, journalist, VoicePk.net
Owais Aslam Ali, Chairman Pakistan Press International (PPI)
Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, nuclear physicist
Pirzada Qasim, poet and scholar
Saleem Asmi, former Editor, Dawn
Zohra Yusuf, former Editor Star Weekend; former Chair HRCP
Media and human rights bodies
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE)
Human Rights Commisson of Pakistan (HRCP)
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
South Asia Media Defenders Network (SAMDEN)/Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative