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Pakistani Journalists Protest Censorship

Pakistani journalists marked World Press Freedom Day in Hyderabad on May 3,

Journalists in Pakistan have staged demonstrations across the country to denounce censorship by the country's powerful military and security services, layoffs due to budget cuts, and months-long delays in wage payments.

The protests on July 16 are spearheaded by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists to fight “unprecedented censorship.”

Afzal Butt, president of the union, said the rallies are only the "beginning of a protest movement."

"We have launched a movement for the rights of journalists from today," Butt said.

"Around 5,000 journalists have lost their jobs in the last eight months and we believe it is a continuation of censorship," Butt said.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) last week blasted a decision by Pakistani authorities to suspend three TV news channels from cable networks for broadcasting an opposition figure’s news conference.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a report released in September that the climate for press freedom in Pakistan was deteriorating as the country's army "quietly, but effectively" restricts reporting through "intimidation" and other means.

Pakistan ranks 142nd out of 180 countries listed on RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.

Based on reporting by AP and dpa