Umar Cheema

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Umar Cheema
Born July 1978
Nationality Pakistani
Occupation journalist
Organization The News
Awards International Press Freedom Award

Umar Cheema (born in July 1978) is an investigative reporter for the Pakistani newspaper The News. In 2008, he won a Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellowship, becoming the first Pearl fellow to work at The New York Times.[1] He also attended London School of Economics as a Chevening Scholar (Chevening Scholarship) doing M.Sc. in Comparative Politics (Conflict studies).

Cheema writes on corruption, politics, national security and unaccountable intelligence agencies. His bold work landed him in trouble several times. He was attacked twice other than receiving threats multiple times.

A car ran over him, after hitting twice, on a freezing night of 4 December 2004. Cheema received compound fractures and remained bed-ridden in the following six-month. After the incident, anonymous callers threatened him of dire consequences if he continued writing with the same pace on critical issues.

On 4 September 2010, he was abducted, beaten and flogged by a group of unknown assailants in military fatigues, who also shaved his head, eyebrows, and mustache, stripped him naked, and photographed him in "humiliating positions".[2] Cheema reported that his attackers asked him if he was trying to discredit the government with his reporting,[3] leading him to believe that they were from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.[2]

Following the incident, The New York Times issued an editorial calling on the Pakistani government to "make clear that it will no longer abet or condone this behavior ... [and] to find out who abducted Mr. Cheema and bring them to justice."[2] The Committee to Protect Journalists echoed the call, describing the attack as "a message sent to all journalists in Pakistan" that must be answered.[3] For his brave journalism and willingness to publicly speak about the attack at risk of his own life, the CPJ awarded Cheema its 2011 International Press Freedom Award, "an annual recognition of courageous journalism".[4] In his acceptance speech, Cheema thanked the group for its "recognition of the bold work Pakistani media is doing".[5] On 14 April 2011, Cheema also received the Tully Center Free Speech Award of Syracuse University.[6]

Cheema is a father of a son and a daughter. Adil, his son, was two years old when Cheema was abducted.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Daniel Pearl Foundation". Daniel Pearl Foundation. 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Who Attacked Umar Cheema?". The New York Times. 2010-09-28. p. A30. Retrieved 3 June 2011. "“I have suspicions and every journalist has suspicions that all fingers point to the ISI,” he said" 
  3. ^ a b Bob Dietz (9 September 2010). "The significance of Umar Cheema's abduction". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2011". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Umar Cheema (22 November 2011). "Acceptance Speech". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Pakistani journalist Umar Cheema receives free speech award at Syracuse University". Syracuse Post-Standard. 14 April 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  7. ^ Umar Cheema (11 June 2011). "Dying to Tell the Story". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 January 2012.