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Journalists beaten while covering demonstration

(PPF/IFEX) - Journalists and camera operators were assaulted while covering clashes during a demonstration by women demanding the restoration of the judiciary. The demonstration was held in front of the Karachi Press Club on 12 March 2008.

According to press reports, members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) beat the demonstrators, who were members of the rival Mohajir Qaumi Movement.

In a statement, Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) President Khurshid Tanvir and General Secretary Khurshid Abbasi said dozens of armed men besieged the Karachi Press Club for hours and beat journalists entering and exiting the club. A heavy contingent of police was present at the scene but chose not to take any action.

A camera operator who was filming the incident was beaten while many journalists were driven away from the scene after shots were fired in the air. The driver of a van belonging to a private television channel was abducted but later released when he told his abductors he worked for the media.

The KUJ and the Karachi Press Club have condemned this attack on journalists and demanded that the authorities protect the life and property of media personnel.

The MQM has denied it was involved in the incident and said the perpetrators were not party members but outsiders who had used the party's name. A delegation of MQM leaders visited the press club to clarify the position of their party.

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