Noam Chomsky: An Open Letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan

In an open letter to Umar Ata Bandial (Chief Justice of Pakistan), over 60 national and international civil society leaders, artists, journalists & academics, including Noam Chomsky (Emeritus Professor at MIT), have raised concern over the torture of @UofIllinois Professor @SHABAZGIL

Category: Asia, Featured, Highlights, World Affairs Topics: Human Rights, Pakistan, Torture Views: 4755

An open letter to the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan regarding concerns about torture, media clampdown and intimidation

Dear Chief Justice Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial,

We are extremely concerned about the disturbing trend of suppression of media freedom in Pakistan and the use of illegal methods such as torture to subdue political opponents.

The most pressing case is the recent violent arrest of Dr. Shahbaz Gill (Chief of Staff to Chairman PTI Imran Khan and Assistant Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) who was charged with sedition 1 for voicing concerns on ARY TV about government officers taking illegal actions.2 Subsequently, there are disturbing reports of Dr. Gill being stripped 3 and tortured 4 5 and being placed in the death cell.6 The wife of his driver was also picked up and imprisoned with her 10-month-old suckling baby. 7 8

We are also witnessing severe suppression of media freedom as exemplified by the ban on the ARY TV channel which is one of Pakistan's biggest and oldest private TV channels.9 10 A blanket ban on one of the most well-established TV channels for airing criticism of the government gives credence to the concerns that the regime is operating in a fascist manner and displaying a flagrant disregard for human rights and freedom of speech. The ban has been accompanied by harassment and intimidation of media workers, and late-night raids against well-respected media executives.11 Explicit and implicit intimidation and threats have forced prominent TV anchors and journalists such as Arshad Sharif and Sabir Shakir to flee the country.12 13

The actions above are fascist in nature and against the basic tenets of any functioning democracy. They are blatant acts of harassment, intimidation, and censorship against Pakistan’s media. The International Federation of Journalists (which is the world's largest organisation of journalists) as well as intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky have raised urgent concerns on these matters. 14 15 16 We firmly reiterate their demand. Intimidatory arrests and torture violate several human rights conventions including the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

We support a return to a truly democratic dispensation and urge the relevant authorities to adhere to and ensure fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and safeguard from torture.


  1. Naeem Ahmad Poet, writer, and social worker
  2. Samina Ahmad Doctor, Founder Salman and Samina Global Wellness Initiative
  3. Waqas Ahmed Journalist
  4. Salman Ahmed UN Goodwill Ambassador / Focal person on Arts & Culture 
  5. Shakil Akhtar Professor Clayton State University, USA
  6. Habib Akram Journalist and Author
  7. Hassan Aslam Shad International Lawyer
  8. Rabia Aziz Academic, Canada
  9. Haris Aziz Scientia Associate Professor, UNSW
  10. Sarwar Bari Author and activist
  11. Farhan Chak Associate Professor of Political Science 
  12. Muhammad Aamir Cheema Associate Professor at Monash University
  13. Noam Chomsky Emeritus Professor at MIT, Philosopher, Author
  14. Khurram Chughtai Strategic Counsel 
  15. Tatyana Deryugina Associate Professor, University of Illinois
  16. Aravinda Garimella Assistant Professor, University of Illinois
  17. Naureen Farooq Khan Ex Member National Assembly 
  18. Gabriele Gratton Professor of Politics and Economics, UNSW
  19. Catherine Greenhill Professor 
  20. Imtiaz Gul Journalist and author
  21. Wencui Han Assistant Professor University of Illinois
  22. Isa Hafali Professor of Economics, University Technology Sydney
  23. Raoof Hasan Chief Executive at Regional Peace Institute, Columnist 
  24. Kinza Hashmi Actor
  25. Javed Hassan Columnist
  26. Zafar Hilaly Former Diplomat, Columnist, and Analyst
  27. Hadi Hosseini Assistant Professor, Pennsylvania State University, USA
  28. Ch. Ghulam Hussain Journalist, Editor
  29. Azhar Imran Lawyer and Professor, Punjab University, Lahore.
  30. Kamal Jabbar Barrister
  31. Javed Jabbar Former Senator, Federal Minister, author
  32. Dr. Khurram Kayani Educationist and philanthropist 
  33. Aila Khan Dr. / Senior Lecturer Western Sydney University
  34. Ejaz Khan President Pakistan Australia Association
  35. Seema Khan Academic, Deakin University 
  36. Shandana Gulzar Khan Parliamentarian
  37. Andrew Korybko Moscow-based American political analyst
  38. Jérôme Lang Researcher at CNRS, France
  39. Barton E. Lee Academic at Magdalen College, Oxford, UK 
  40. Mariam Malik Social Activist
  41. Shireen Mehrunnisa Mazari Former Minister of Human Rights 
  42. Najma Minhas Managing Editor and CEO of Global Village Space Publications
  43. Jameson Neff Mathematics Instructor at Lake Land College, USA
  44. Dr. Rita Pal Human Rights Activist, Won at the UNHRC for Kashmir 2018 
  45. Samina Peerzada Actor, Director, Producer
  46. Moeed Pirzada Editor Global Village Space Publications
  47. Yvonne Ridley Journalist, author, and politician
  48. Muhammad Usman Sami Advocate High Courts
  49. Shaheen Sehbai Journalist, former Group Editor 
  50. Salman Shabbir Founder OpVoters
  51. Jarrar Shah Entrepreneur
  52. Saleeha Shah Artist & Businesswoman
  53. Faisal Sherjan Media, Entrepreneur
  54. Khadija Siddiqi Barrister and activist
  55. Soufia Siddiqi Assistant Professor
  56. Muhammad Azhar Siddique Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, Human Rights Activist
  57. Mehr Tarar Author, Columnist, Analyst
  58. Toby Walsh Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor, UNSW 
  59. Chris Williamson Former UK Member of Parliament
  60. Leyla Zuberi Actor

( Source: OP Voters )


  Category: Asia, Featured, Highlights, World Affairs
  Topics: Human Rights, Pakistan, Torture
Views: 4755

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