PAKISTAN: No action taken against Geo TV presenter

AHRC-STM-244-2008
September 18, 2008

PAKISTAN: No action taken against Geo TV presenter who incited Muslims to murder members of Pakistan minority on air
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The government of Pakistan has not held the presenter of a popular TV program on Geo TV, accountable for stoking the already-prevalent religious hatred of Pakistan’s beleaguered Ahmadi minority, on 7 September, 2008.

Anchor person Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain declared, on air, the murder of Ahmadi sect members to be the religious duty of devout Muslims. He made the statement on Alim Online, a religious affairs program on Geo TV, which is a prominent Dubai-based Pakistani television channel. Hussain urged his two co-presenters to agree, and in a show on 9 September, he repeated the suggestion. In the 48 hours after the first broadcast, two Ahmadi community leaders were lynched and murdered, bringing the total number of targeted Ahmadi killings this year to four. Please see Urgent Appeal

Hussain, a self-titled doctor, was, ironically, the minister for religious affairs in the Musharraf government. He regularly expresses an open hatred of Pakistan’s minority groups, and his influence stretches far by way of daily on-air sermons and articles he writes for the Daily Jang newspaper, published by the same media house.

The AHRC considers freedom of speech to be an important right, but it also insists on the right of the individual to personal safety and freedom from persecution. That Pakistan allows the use of broadcasting tools to spread direct messages of intense harm and hatred as a religious duty, is utterly disturbing.

Religious intolerance flourishes in Pakistan, and there is very little done to temper the hatred felt by some Muslims for Ahmadi followers, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and other minorities. In some cases the government clearly tries to court fundamentalists with its leniency regarding these crimes. The two most recent Ahmadi deaths were carried out in broad daylight, in public, but no arrests have been made. Dr Hussain has not been held accountable in any way, either by his employer or the government.

The AHRC demands that a case be initiated and Dr Hussain be produced before the law. Geo TV must, at the very least, offer a full apology for its involvement in two murderous lynching cases, and must present a new list of broadcasting standards that it pledges to uphold. That religious hatred can bloom so publicly and remain unpunished is an embarrassment to a country that hopes to be taken seriously outside of its borders.

ahrchk.net

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  1. HUMAN RIGHTS RESTORATION INTERNATIONAL FORUM UNITED KINGDOM – HRRIF UK
    The Case of Murder of innocent human beings:
    HRRIF is horrified to learn that two innocent Pakistani citizens belonging to a minority religious sect known as ‘Ahmadi Muslims’ were murdered shortly after a broadcaster on one of the country’s main television channels urged viewers to kill “blasphemers” and “apostates” as a sacred religious duty. According to the reports, Amir Liaqat Hussain, anchoring a programme ‘Aalim on line’ on the widely viewed GEO TV Sky Channel on September 7, declared that the murder of members of the Qadiani [derogatory word for Ahmadis] was (Wajib ul Qatal) the sacred duty of the Muslims. He followed up by urging two other participants on his program, who belonged to different sects of Islam, to endorse his viewpoint. Hussain, who is a former minister for religious affairs in Pakistan’s federal government, representing MQM reportedly, obtained the endorsement he sought more than four times. Again on September 9, Hussain answered a query on a phone-in program with the comment that those guilty of the alleged sin of blasphemy should be put to death.
    Within 18 hours of the first broadcast, Abdul Manan Siddiqui, a heart specialist in the city of Mirpur Khas, in Sindh province, was murdered. He was the district Amir [chief] of the Ahmadi Community in Mirpur Khas.
    The doctor was reportedly called out of his clinic on the afternoon of September 8 by six people who pretended to have brought a patient. Siddiqui was dragged outside, shot 11 times and died on the spot. His private guard and a woman passer-by were also injured in the attack.
    The following day, Sheikh Muhammad Yousaf, a 75 years old rice trader and district Amir [chief] of the Ahmadi Community, was killed in the city of Nawab Shah, also in Sindh province the Home of the President Zardari. He was reportedly shot at by motorcycle borne assailants. Since the promulgation of the notorious Ahmadi-specific Ordinance XX in 1984, he is the 94th Ahmadi killed for his faith. The assailants had taken a route past a police station. No one was arrested.
    The HRRIF has strongly condemned the action and joins the AHRC, HRCP, IFJ and all other right thinking peace loving people in condemning the incitement to intolerance and violence apparent in the declaration made by Hussain and his two interlocutors. “Under legal standards for curbing hate speech in the media, the burden of proof is on Amir Liaqat Hussain and the channel that broadcast his program to establish that they do not bear some responsibility for the murder of two innocent men,”
    “Media outlets must implement measures to ensure their content abides by ethical principles, including curbs on hate speech, both in the interests of promoting tolerance and also to ensure there is no opening for state authorities to intervene in the expression of fair comment.” IFJ Asia-Pacific has rightly said
    Additional Information:
    The Ahmadi Muslim Community was declared non-Muslim on September 7, 1974, through a constitutional amendment, and was labeled a non Muslim minority by the PPP government. Since then, there has been open hatred of the Community by certain Islamic circles and fundamentalists across the Muslim world, and its members suffer widespread discrimination. Ahmadi followers are not allowed to pose like a Muslim and even bury their dead in the ordinary grave yards of Muslims, and many of those buried before 1974 were desecrated by fundamentalists.
    Dr. Ghulam Sarwar was murdered on March 19 in Faisalabad, Punjab province while Mr. Basharat Mughal on February 24 in Karachi. The Dr. Siddiqui is the 15th medical doctor killed since 1984. Religious Extremists across Pakistan incite hatred against Ahmadis
    their beliefs, and call for their killing. Most profane and unfortunate is
    it that these clerics are doing so during the holy and blessed month of
    Ramadhan, a month of fasting, prayer and quiet devotion.
    Is it not surprising and unbelievably absurd that under these circumstances, the authorities’ initiative amounted to registration of a criminal case under anti-Ahmadi specific laws Ahmadi jewelers, traders and businessmen at Chenab Nagar [Rabwah], who published Ramadan timetable for starting and closing the daily fast and “therein used the words ‘Imam’ and ‘Khilafat’, thereby injured the feelings of Muslims”, allegedly.
    The entire Ahmadi population in Kotli Azad Kashmir is also charged by the police under anti-Ahmadi specific legislation nd their names are published in the Khatme Nabuwwat Kotli newspaper.
    MQM gets rid of Dr Amir Liaquat Hussain:
    The MQM has already announced that the popular religious TV person, Amir Liaquat Hussain, is no longer a member of the party’s Rabita Committee because he is making statements that arouse “religious hatred”. The announcement specified that he had been “warned earlier to stop making such statements on his television programme”. The MQM actually said that owing to his inclination to arouse religious hatred “his party responsibilities were ended one and a half years ago and his membership was suspended as well”. Now the MQM doesn’t want to be “responsible for any of his words and deeds”.
    HRCP slams Ahmadi killings:
    The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called for action to protect the lives of minorities and to halt the practice of hate preaching through the media. In a statement issued on Wednesday 10th September 2008, the HRCP said: “On Monday, an eminent Ahmedi physician and cardiologist was shot dead in Mirpurkhas. The next day, another prominent Ahmadi was killed in Nawab Shah. The Ahmadiyya community believes there is a link between these brutal killings and a programme telecast by a private TV channel in which the host called for the killing of Ahmadis.” Even if there is no direct link, neither of the offences can be tolerated, it added. The Ahmedi community is within its legal rights to demand protection against instigators of violence, it said. The statement demanded that the government ensure that the killers of the Ahmadi citizens are brought to justice and that nobody is allowed to use the media to preach communal hatred and fratricide, said by HRCP.
    The HRRIF has noted:
    No direct and or indirect statement of condemnation was issued in this serious matter by any of the ruling political parties PPP and PML (N) leaders, their functionaries and the ministers.
    No statement and or concern are shown by the Prime Minister and or the President of Pakistan on behalf of their government.
    No remorse and or explanation are given by the Chairman and or board of directors of the GEOTV Limited.
    No Sue-Moto action is taken by any of the Chief Justices of Sindh High Court or the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
    None from the Pakistan Bar Council and or lawyers in Pakistan has made any statement, dharna and strike who have been championing for the cause for the human rights and independence of judiciary for some time.
    None of the G8 and donor countries ‘allies in the war on terror’ has made any statement or condemnation on the action and loss of innocent Ahmadi Muslims.
    HRRIF appreciates:
    Statement of condemnation in its strongest terms by none other than MQM leader Altaf Hussain in his press release and by live address to 20 cities and town in Pakistan.
    Statement of condemnation by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – HRCP
    Statement of condemnation by the Asian Human Rights Commission – AHRC
    Statement of condemnation by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) which represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries © International Federation of Journalists. Belgium Source: http://asiapacific.ifj.org/en/articles/ifj-condemns-inflammatory-broadcast-and-link-to-murders-in pakistan
    All other right thinking peace loving people who showed concern and have condemned the action and complained to the OFCOM.
    HRRIF demands from the concerned authorities and governments:
    Penalize and place ban on GEOTV Sky Channels 815 to stop further incitement to murders
    Take stern action against the agents of incitement, murderers and the perpetrators of intolerance and violence against the humanity.
    Charge the GEOTV under the corporate crime of murders,
    G8 and donors countries to show concern and place sanctions on the Government of Pakistan for failure to regulate irresponsible media provocation and to protect innocent killings of Ahmadi Muslims,

    Place ban on the militant Khatme Nabuwwat [KN].

    HRRIF Invites:
    While condemning strongly now invites all right thinking peace loving people, activists, organizations and human rights agencies from all over the world to voice concern condemnation and mount pressure on those responsible to protect human rights by letter to OFCOM Riverside House2a Southwark Bridge Road London SE1 9HA or call on 020 7981 3040 or 0300 123 3333 and or send an email, G8 donor governments through your MP and directly to the government of Pakistan at the following address:
    1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
    President of Pakistan
    President’s Secretariat
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
    E-mail: (please see: http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx)
    2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
    Prime minister of Pakistan
    Prime Minister House
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: 92-51-9221596
    Tel: +92-51-9206111
    E-mail: webmaster@infopak.gov.pk
    3. Mr. Rehman Malik
    Advisor for Ministry of Interior
    Room No. 404, 4th Floor, R Block,
    Pak Secretariat
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 920 2624
    Tel: +92 51 921 2026
    E-mail: minister@interior.gov.pk
    4. Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan
    Governor of Sindh province
    Karachi, Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 21 920 5043
    Tel: +92 21 920 1201
    E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk
    5. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
    Chief Minister House
    Karachi, Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 21 920 2000
    E-mail: pppsindh@yahoo.co
    6. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
    High Court Building
    Saddar, Karachi
    Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 21 9213220
    E-mail: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk
    7. Ms. Nadia Gabol
    Minister for Human Rights
    Government of Sindh,
    Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
    Karachi, Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Tel: +92 21 9207043
    Fax: +92 21 9207044
    E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com
    8. Secretary
    (Criminal Prosecution) SGA &CD Department
    Government of Sindh
    Sindh Secretariat,
    Karachi, Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Tel: +92 21 9213327-6
    Fax: +92 21 9213873
    E-mail: secy.cpsd@sindh.gov.pk
    9. Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Mirza
    Minister for Home
    Government of Sindh
    Barrack 79, Pakistan Secretariate
    Near MPA hostel
    Karachi, Sindh Province
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 21 9204456
    Tel: +92 21 9201920-1
    E-mail: secy.home@sindh.gov.pk
    For urgent Appeals Programme
    Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)
    Thank you.
    Chairperson HRRIF
    Co-Chairperson HRRIF
    Fax: 020 8767 0456 W: hrrif.com E: info@hrrif.com

    Reply

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