Pakistan Sept. 4: Activists respond to women buried alive!

For the Record
Burying of women alive defended in Pakistani Senate
Dawn / The News

Balochistan Senator Sardar Israrullah Zehri stunned the upper house on Friday when he defended the recent incident of burying alive three teenage girls and two women in his province, saying it was part of “our tribal custom.”

Senator Bibi Yasmin Shah of the PML-Q raised the issue citing a newspaper report that the girls, three of them aged between 16 and 18 years, had been buried alive a month ago for wishing to marry of their own will.

The barbaric incident took place in a remote village of Jafarabad district and a PPP minister and some other influential people were reported to have been involved. The report accused the provincial government of trying to hush up the issue.

Ms Shah said that the hapless girls and the women were first shot in the name of honour and then buried while they were alive. She also said that no criminal had been arrested so far.

Acting Chairman of Senate Jan Mohammad Jamali, who was presiding over the session, said: “Yasmin Shah should go to our society and see for herself what the situation is like there and then come back to raise such questions in the house.”

Maulana Ghafoor Haideri of the JUI-F said there was no tradition of burying women alive in Baloch society because it was against Islam’s teachings.

Jamal Leghari of PML-Q emphatically stated that there was no custom of burying people alive, adding that the Baloch people did not believe in it.

Senator Jan Jamali commented: “This is a provincial matter and it is being investigated at the provincial level and let us wait for the report of the investigation.” Leader of the Opposition Kamil Ali Agha accused the Balochistan government of ignoring the incident and said no jirga could order the burying of women alive and no law allowed anyone to commit such a crime and go unpunished. He urged the government to punish the people involved in it.

Leader of the House Mian Raza Rabbani said: “We condemn the heinous act and assure the house that a complete report on the incident would be submitted on Monday.”

By Ahmed Hassan

Women’s Action Forum (WAF) Press Release on the murders in Baluchisatn

Women’s Action Forum is deeply concerned at the growing challenges to the writ of the state being mounted by parallel systems imposing brutal punishments. WAF is horrified that 5 women were brutally shot and then buried alive in Balochistan for trying to exercise their fundamental right to determine their lives. We are appalled that the brother of a sitting Minister of the Balochistan government (Minister for Housing, Mir Sadiq Umrani) is directly involved. WAF appreciates the suo motto notice taken by the Quetta High Court and hopes the court acts to ensure swift justice. WAF demands that all the perpetrators in this heinous crime be caught and punished: those who pulled the triggers and those who arranged the killing; and the leaders of the Umrani tribe be held accountable. The state and our elected representatives must take responsibility to ensure that such inhuman, cruel and criminal actions never take place again.

WAF is deeply distressed that violence in the pursuit of power is becoming a norm in Pakistan impacting the vulnerable including targeted attacks on individual women such as the two women whose mutilated and disfigured bodies were recently found in Nanguman on Charsadda Road. Both incidents highlight the specific targeting and terrorizing of women. The owning of these murders by criminal elements in Bajaur, the bombing of at least 123 girls’ schools in the north and the constant threats issued by armed militants are all part of the Talibanisation project aimed at absolute power that suffocates women. This denies rights and further narrows the spaces guaranteed for women by the Pakistan state in 1947.

WAF has consistently been raising the issue of Talibanisation that threatens the very fabric of society and the integrity of the state. This is a major challenge to Pakistan along with growing poverty, rampant inflation and the lack of justice. Political parties must rise above their personal agendas to simultaneously address all these urgent issues. WAF calls upon all Pakistanis to hold their elected representatives accountable.

Protest Demonstration
The News

Women human rights defenders staged a protest demonstration in front of Karachi Press Club on Monday, 1 September 2008 to condemn the brutal act of burying five women alive in Balochistan on the pretext of ‘Tribal Custom’.

Holding placards inscribed with slogans such as ‘Stop killing women’, ‘Murder is no custom’ and ‘No honour killing’, the protestors condemned the outrageous remarks of Senator Israrullah Zehri in the Senate to justify the abhorrent incident of burying women alive.

The defender WHRDs urged the government to initiate a probe into the matter instantly and to stop violation of human rights in the name of traditional customs and punish the criminals involved in the matter.


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2 thoughts on “Pakistan Sept. 4: Activists respond to women buried alive!

  1. Pingback: Religion-based Crimes in Pakistan « Uddari Weblog

  2. Pingback: Religion-based Crimes in Pakistan « Love Life

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