Following is a statement from Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding the Zardari/Nafisa Shah probe into the abhorent ‘honour’ killing of a teenager carried out by her uncle/father-in-law in March 2008 to get her property.
The barriers indicated below by the AHRC regarding this investigation are indicative of the barriers faced by investigators and human rights activists in other cases of ‘property’ killings where women were ruthlessly murdered by their male family members; for example, in the investigation of the Alive Burials of Eight Baloch women this July.
As in most cases of ‘Property’ killings, male family members do it in connivance with local officials and dignitaries; and, the ‘punishments’ are often sanctioned by a Jirga (usually a group of influential men of the area/clans) to preclude any possibility of legal consequences for the individuals who order and perform murders for greed.
Because such crimes of greed and revenge are committed after manipulating the local community with favors and threats, the code of silence is observed with fastidiousness.
Shaheed Bibi Taslim Solangi was murdered in March, we come to know of it in October. The Eight Shaheed BibiaN were buried alive in Baba Kot in July, we came to know of it at the end of August. Still, all the graves have not been found, and so all autopsies have not yet been performed. In both cases, the perpetrators, the psychopaths who killed their daughters, sisters and aunts are roaming free enjoying the influence of their protectors that reside at all levels of the government and society. From the local council, local police official and the local religious conservative formations, to the provincial government, the Senate and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, the criminals and the abusers are being protected.
Another curious aspect is that the ‘overseas’ organizations that i have seen working with exemplary zeal to fight for justice are either silent or paying lip service against these worst breaches of human rights, the loss of innocent lives. For example, the people who had done a great job in North America regarding the disappearance of Sindhi American political activist Dr. Safdar Sarki, are silent about the familial murder of Taslim Solangi in Sind; and, the organizations who were raising hell to get Bibi MukhtaraN Mai the permission to visit United States of America, are silent about the alive burials of eight women in Balochistan. And the members of an online list who were earlier taken by Zardari/Palin vicariousness, are now happily engrossed into the outcomes of the recent US presidential elections.
Meanwhile, women are being killed for property by their male family members at the minimum rate of Five per Day, the cases come to surface months after the murders happen obscuring conclusive evidence against the killers, the witnesses are coerced and killed for speaking out, the murderers enjoy the support and protection of the influentials.
This cycle of violence, theft and control that is taking so many lives of women in Pakistan, is perpetuated by and in the interest of privileged Muslim men of (mainly) conservative viewpoints and propertied classes against either women of their own families or against women of lesser social status. The following update shows how efficiently this privileged group is able to safeguard its interests against victimized members of their own families.
Government tries to derail the case of a young girl who was shot dead after being mauled by the murderer’s dogs*
The special representative of President Asif Zardari has completed her probe into a brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl that came to light late October and she will submit report in a day or two.
The case, which may be seen at ahrchk.net/statements involved the killing of Ms Taslim Solangi in Sindh Province in March 2008 by her uncle/father-in-law (the irregularity of the uncle being the father-in-law is due to the Muslim custom that allows marriage among cousins).
The girl was mauled by dogs and then shot dead in front of her father after he refused to hand over land to her husband’s family. The report, which has been sent to the president, is gravely flawed.
The Asian Human Rights Commission is not satisfied with the probe, firstly, because it was carried out in the presence of the same officials who allowed the case go un-investigated for several months (during which time a Jirga court was held, the murderers vindicated and an unrelated person punished).
– Mr. Liaquat Ali Abbasi, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) is still performing his duties, he was holding the same office on March 6 when the murder of Taslim Solangi happened and he was not prepared to take action against perpetrators of an honour killing.
– The Sub Inspector, Mr. Yar Mohammad Phalpoto, the investigation officer of the case, is also still at his post even though he has yet to carry out any investigation. His presence is itself a good demonstration of intimidation and misuse of power.
– Mr. Pir Mohammad Shah, the District Police Officer (DPO) has been in the district since August and is fully aware of the honour killing of a 17-year-old girl but has not initiated any inquiry in to the case. During his presence the father of the girl was kept in detention and on more than one occasion was paraded naked in the village. Once again the DPO has done nothing.
– The girl’s father-in-law, Mr. Zameer Solangi, and his brother Mr. Habib Solangi are still at large and living openly in the neighbourhood where the crime took place (Shah Jana and Ahmedpur). The former has openly threatened to kill the parents of the girl.
In such a situation such a probe cannot be impartial and it is surprising that the representative, Ms Nafisa Shah, did not consider this. As a result it is unsurprising that evidence has been so scant and legitimate witnesses hard to come by.
The parents and other family members of the dead girl have been taken 500km away to Khairpur Mirs, where they were kept for some days in a vocational school by the police. There, with the connivance of local administration the family members and friends of the killers arranged demonstrations against the parents of victim. Police officials who have visited Taslim’s detained
relatives at vocational institution at Khairpur city have indicated that they (Parents of Taslim) will be arrested for murder of their daughter, once Ms. Shah completes her probe and leaves the area.
Sindh police seem to be giving unusual credence to a first information report (FIR) filed by Zameer, the girl’s murderer, on March 6, 2008, in which he names her parents as the killers. Some other pieces of evidence, such as that provided by a journalist, Mr. Ajeeb Lakho, from Daily Koshish (who saw bite injuries on the girl’s body just after the incident) has not been accepted by Ms. Shah, the probe officer.
The AHRC would also like to point out that this incident occurred in Ms Shah’s electoral constituency, and that she – considering her position as a defender of woman’s rights – may find it embarrassing to concede that such atrocities can take place and remain un-investigated for half a year on her patch.
In terms of evidence and of witnesses, it should be known that while statements were being taken from local residents, the main question being pushed was the identity of the person who released the information to the outside world. Such people, should they become known, would be in danger.
All such statements were taken before the area’s district police officer or members of the local administration. The officials did not accept the eyewitness testimony of the victim’s father, who was detained and forced to watch as his daughter was mauled. On the other hand they have stood by a report offered by the perpetrators themselves. It is also curious that the administration has not yet been able to find Taslim’s grave, and therefore cannot perform an autopsy.
The AHRC demands that:
– The probe of the incident should be conducted by such a person who should belong to an unrelated area and who has no vested interest in the case.
– All high officials of the administration and police who have been involved in the case or who have been located there since several months should be replaced, since their presence is contrary to an independent and impartial inquiry.
– A new board of doctors must be formed to conduct the autopsy of the body of Taslim Solangi, when located, and
– All those with suspected involvement in this most brutal murder must be arrested, to allow witnesses to come forward in safety.
– Taslim’s family is currently in a vulnerable position. They must be provided with legitimate
security, while remaining involved in the case.
From Baseer Naveed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nov 7, 2008