The undersigned members of the global Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) are appalled by death threats made against fellow IPI Executive Board member and Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas as well as Dawn CEO Hamid Haroon during demonstrations outside the offices of Dawn in Pakistan.
On December 3 protestors laid siege to Dawn’s Islamabad office, with similar protests following outside the Karachi Press Club and Dawn’s offices in that city. Demonstrators carried banners branding Mr. Haroon and Mr. Abbas as “traitors” and demanding that they be hanged.
The demonstrations followed strong criticism of Dawn, a leading English-langauge daily, on social media by political leaders in Pakistan for its coverage of the recent London Bridge attack in which it described the attacker as a person of Pakistani origin.
We are deeply shocked and outraged over these events, which seriously endanger the safety of journalists working at Dawn and which lay bare the growing and apparently politically motivated intolerance toward independent journalism in Pakistan.
Dawn has been a bastion of independent journalism for over seven decades and it is the responsibility of Pakistan’s government to guarantee the safety of its journalists. We call on all political leaders in Pakistan to immediately refrain from any actions that may appear encourage or condone attacks on the press.
This latest incident, as well as recent attacks against other news organizations, come amid ongoing, well-documented repression of independent voices and intimidation of journalists in the country, which is undermining the free flow of information necessary to democracy.
Attacks such as this week’s threats against Dawn seriously breach democratic norms and must never be tolerated. We therefore call on the Pakistani authorities to immediately open an investigation into these incidents and bring to justice all those responsible for the death threats to Mr. Abbas and Mr Haroon.
IPI, the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, stands firmly behind Dawn and its journalists.
Members of The IPI Executive Board
Markus Spillmann, Founder & CEO, SPILLMANN Media Strategy Management GmbH, Switzerland
Beata Balogová, Editor-in-Chief, SME, Slovak Republic
Woosuk Kenneth Choi, Deputy Editor, Chosun Ilbo, South Korea
Daoud Kuttab, Director General, Community Media Network; Founder, AmmanNet, Jordan
Khadija Patel, Editor-in-Chief, Mail & Guardian, South Africa
Mahfuz Anam, Editor & Publisher, The Daily Star, Bangladesh
Ole Kristian Bjellaanes, Managing Editor, Norwegian News Agency, Norway
Monika Eigensperger, Director of Radio, Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), Austria
Sami El Haj, Head, Human Rights and Public Liberties Desk, Aljazeera Media Network, Qatar
Kim Fletcher, Editor, The British Journalism Review, UK
Stephen Gitagama, Group CEO, Nation Media Group, Kenya
Kadri Gürsel, Journalist; Columnist for Al-Monitor and Diken, Turkey
Johannes Hano, Bureau Chief, ZDF German Television (New York/Canada), Germany
David Jordan, Director, Editorial Policy, BBC, UK
Hiroshi Komatsu, Editor-in-Chief, The Mainichi Shimbun, Japan
Wada Maida, Chairman, People’s Media Limited, Nigeria
Riyad Mathew, Editor, Malayala Manorama and The Week, India
Kaius Niemi, Senior Editor-in-Chief, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
Virginia Pérez Alonso, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Publico.es; Chair, Platform for the Defence of Free Expression (PDLI), Spain
Maria Ressa, CEO & Executive Editor, Rappler, Philippines
Martha Steffens, Professor, SABEW Chair in Business and Financial Reporting, University of Missouri School of Journalism, USA
John Yearwood, President, Yearwood Media Group, USA
Special Representative for Journalist Safety:
John Daniszewski, Vice President, Standards, Editor at Large The Associated Press, USA