Mark Trahant: Groups under siege in Pakistan

"How would we object if we lost our freedom? Would we demonstrate in the streets if a dictator set the rule of law aside? Would we risk torture, police beatings or arrest?

Hundreds of lawyers in Seattle, in Washington, D.C., and around the world marched last week as an answer to those very questions. They took to the streets to protest the suspension of Pakistan's constitution by that country's ruler, Pervez Musharraf.

Mohammad Akram Sheikh, a past president of the bar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, stood in front of this nation's highest court and urged the United States to change course. "I strongly beseech, entreat and request the administration to withdraw its support from General Musharraf," he told The Associated Press.

But lawyers are not the only group under siege. Pakistan's government (as any government would hope) thought this "emergency" might pass without notice. Musharraf particularly didn't want journalists to tell the world about what's occurring in Pakistan. The government has ordered broadcasters to sign a 14-page "code of conduct." The Committee to Protect Journalists calls this a tactic to intimidate and silence critics. The independent TV stations are off the air.

We journalists don't march in the streets when our colleagues are being arrested or quieted. We write. We tell people where to find out more. And there is a new story emerging from Pakistan."

Get the Story:
Mark Trahant: Dissent starts with a YouTube clip (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 11/18)

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