Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prison

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Report updating status of female political prisoners in Evin prisonCommittee of Human Rights Reporters – At 33 detainees, the women’s ward at Evin prison has reached the largest number of prisoners in the past 3 years. Some of the prisoners are suffering with psychological and physical maladies while many have been deprived of their right to furlough.The new round of summons and arrests of political and civil female activists continues. In the past 2 months the number of female political prisoners has reached 33 as activists who had been detained during the events that took place after the contested presidential elections, have been summoned to serve their prison sentences. According to the detainees in the past years, the average number of prisoners in the women’s ward has been 28 and has never increased until now. In addition there is news that at least 10 more women will be transferred to this ward in the near future.Below is a list of the 33 female detainees who are being held in the women’s ward at Evin prison.

1) Basma Al Jabouri – Iraqi citizen accused of spying, 5-year prison sentence, has served one year.

2) Bahareh Hedyayat – Student and women’s rights activist, member of the student organization Advar-e TahkimeVehdat, 10-year prison sentence, has served about 3 years.

3) BehnazZaker – Arrested at airport about 4 months ago before a scheduled flight to Sweden and kept in prison in undetermined circumstance.

4) RaheleZokayi – Among the lesser-known prisoners, one-year prison sentence for “propaganda against the regime.”

5) Reyhaneh Haj EbrahimDagagh – Among the detainees of the Ashura mass protests in 2009, 15-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO, has served 3 years with no furlough.

6) JilaBaniyaghoub–Journalist and women’s rights activist, who has been behind bars for over a month. She was sentenced to one year in prison on the charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the leadership.” Her husband BahmanAhmadiAmoui is also a journalist who is behind bars in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. He received a 5-year prison sentence of which he has endured 3.5 years.

7) JilaKaramzadehMakundi – Political prisoner, poet and member of the Mourning Mothers of Laleh Park, 2-year prison sentence, has served about 11 months.

8) ShabnamMadadzadeh – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO and handed 5-year prison sentence. Arrested in February 2009 and has spent 3.5 years behind bars without the right to furlough.

9) Shiva NazarAhari – Human rights activist who was handed a 4-year prison sentence by the court. She was transferred to prison about a month ago. Previously, she spent over 100 days in solitary confinement and 9 months in women’s Ward 209 (Intelligence Ministry’s Ward), and 3 months in the women’s general ward of Evin prison.

10) SedighehMoradi – Political prisoner charged with affiliation with MKO, handed 10-year prison sentence of which she has served one year.

11) SoghraGholamnezad – Political prisoner who was transferred to the women’s ward at Evin about 3 months ago. She is serving a 2-year prison sentence handed by the Revolutionary Court on charges of affiliation with MKO.

12) FaezehHashemi – Political prisoner who was transferred to Evin 2 weeks ago to serve 6-month prison sentence.

13) FaribahKamalabadi – Baha’i prisoner who was an administrator at “Yaran-e Iran”, a Baha’i organization. She has been kept behind bars since her arrest in 2006. She was handed a 20-year prison sentence of which she has served 5 years without her right to furlough.

14) FaranHesami – Baha’i citizen with 5-year prison sentence. This mother of a 3-year old toddler was transferred behind bars about 3 months ago. Hesami was arrested when she went to Evin Prison’s Sentence Enforcement Unit to obtain a power of attorney for her incarcerated husband. Her husband Kamran Rahimian is an educator at the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (Baha’i Online University), serving a 4-year prison sentence at Rajai Shahr prison, on charges of “membership in the Baha’i community,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”

15) KobraBanazadehAmirkhizi – political prisoner handed 5-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has served 4 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

16) KefayatMalekMohammadi – 60-year-old citizen arrested in 2009 during Ashura mass protests, charged with MKO affiliation, 15-year prison sentence of which she has served 3 years behind bars.

17) LadanMostofiMaab – Political prisoner with 2.5-year prison sentence, has served 2 years and 3 months without any furlough.

18) LevaKhanjani – Baha’i citizen banned from continuing her education, appeared at Tehran’s Evin Prison on Saturday, August 25, 2012 to begin serving her 2-year prison term.

19) MahboubehKarami – Political, women and human rights activist sentenced to 3 years in prison by branch 54 of the Revolutionary Appellate Court on February 2, 2011. She was charged with membership in a human rights organization, “propaganda against the regime,” and “gathering and collusion with intent to harm national security.” She has spent one and a half years in prison.

20) Maryam AkbariMonfared – Political prisoner with 15-year sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has been in prison since her arrest 3 years ago without her right to furlough.

21) Maryam Jalili – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

22) MotaharehBahrami – Detained in 2009 during Ashura protests. She was handed a 10-year prison sentence on charges of affiliation with MKO. She has spent about a year behind bars with no furlough.

23) MitraZahmati – Christian convert with 2.5-year prison sentence on the charge of changing her religion. She has spent about a year in prison without her right to furlough.

24) ManijehNajm Iraqi – Women’s rights activist, member of Iranian Author’s Club, worked as interpreter and author. Revolutionary Court handed a one-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. She was charged with membership in Iranian Author’s Club and publishing their work. The allegations made against her were based on taking part in events for Mohammad Mokhtari, Mohammad Ja’farPouvandeh, AhmadShamlou.

25) ManijehNaserAllahi – Handed 3.5-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’’i faith. She has spent 2.5 years behind bars with only 3 days on furlough.

26) MahsaAmirabadi – Handed a 2-year prison sentence of which she has spent 5 months behind bars. Her husband MasoudBastani is a journalist also behind bars serving a 6-year prison sentence in Rajai Shahr prison. He was charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “collusion to disrupt national security.”

27) MahvashShariyati – Behind bars since 2008, serving 20-year prison term on charges of following the Baha’i faith and membership on board of Yarane Iran, which is a Baha’i organization.

28) NazaninDeyhimi – Transferred to prison about 2 weeks ago to serve 4-month sentence stemming from charge of taking part in post-election protests.

29) NegarHaeri – Political prisoner who was detained about 3 months ago and has been held without being charged. Her father MashaalaHaeri is serving a 15-year prison sentence behind bars in Raja’i Shahr prison on charges of affiliation with MKO.

30) Nasrin Sotoudeh – Lawyer and human rights activist serving 6-year prison sentence. She is also barred from practicing law for 10 years. She was charged with “acting against national security”, “propaganda against the regime,” and “membership in a human rights organization.” She has spent 2 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

31) NasimSoltanBaygi – Journalist and student activist handed 3-year prison sentence on charges of following the Baha’i faith. She has spent 1.5 years of her sentence behind bars.

32) NoushinKhadem – A lecturer at the Baha’i Science Institution, handed a 4-year prison sentence for being a follower of the Baha’i faith. She began serving her sentence on September 16, 2012.

33) HaniyehSanehFarshi – Political prisoner and blogger, 7-year prison sentence on charges of blasphemy, propaganda against the regime, acting against national security and insulting Islamic sanctities. She has served 2.5 years behind bars without her right to furlough.

According to information obtained by Committee of Human Rights Reporters, in the next few days another 10 women will be transferred to Evin prison. With the new wave of prisoners about to enter the facility and the many unknown prisoners who have not been listed in the news, it is predicted that the women’s ward in Evin prison will be over capacity. With the arrival of cold winter months and the lack of adequate medical care for political prisoners there is serious concern about the deficient conditions that the prisoners will have to endure.


‘Blasphemy and the Governor of Punjab’ a BBC Radio 4 Presentation


On 4th January 2011, self-made millionaire businessman and governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer, was gunned down in the car park of a popular Islamabad market. He had been leading a campaign to amend Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, after an illiterate 45-year-old Christian woman, Asia Bibi, from a village in his province had been sentenced to death for blasphemy.

Within hours of his death, a Facebook fan page for the assassin Mumtaz Qadri had over 2000 members, before site administrators shut it down. When Qadri was transferred to jail, he was garlanded with roses by a crowd of lawyers offering to take on his case for free. President Asif Ali Zardari, an old friend of Taseer’s, didn’t go to the funeral for fear of inflaming public opinion. Leaders of state-funded mosques refused to say funeral prayers for the slain governor. The Interior Minister even gave an impromptu press conference announcing that he too would kill any blasphemer “with his own hands”.

Using his extensive contacts in Pakistan, presenter Owen Bennett-Jones has interviewed Taseer’s family and friends and the family of the assassin. He has also secured access to court documents including the killer’s confession.

The programme includes both interviews and dramatic reconstructions.

Presented by Owen Bennett-Jones
Sound Design Steve Bond
Executive Producer Jeremy Skeet
Director John Dryden

A Goldhawk Production for BBC Radio 4

‘PAKISTAN: Barbarity in the name of religion is at its height’ by Baseer Naweed

Pakistan is known in the international community and declared in the country’s Constitution as an Islamic nation where Islam is glorified as the superb religion and its followers are pious Muslims. There is no doubt that Islam teaches tolerance, love, respect for other religions, and that life and death are in the hands of Allah. The killing of any human being is forbidden and in the Quran it is the highest form of sin.

But how Islam is defined in practice is yet a big question in Pakistani society. In the absence of any clear definition about the implementation of Islam a strong perception has been widely spread that it can be implemented only through the violence and exemplary punishment to those who do not properly follow its precepts. Saudi Arabia, being the role model of Shariah and a real Islamic country, demonstrates its commitment every Friday by handing down death sentences that are then carried out by beheading. At the same time thieves have their hands removed.

The Muslim fundamentalists, their militant organisations, the military governments and right wing political parties of Pakistan have been trying to replicate the Islamic model of Saudi Arabia which has generated an atmosphere of intolerance and violence by punishing ordinary people in the name of Islam. The gross misuse of blasphemy laws is one of the reasons society is turning into a killing field. Virtual anarchy rules in the country and total chaos is not far behind.

The absence of the rule of law and a weak criminal justice system allows the increasing religious intolerance where the religious groups, with the help of the mushrooming growth of seminaries (Madressas) and mosques are enforcing their own tailored Islamic laws by killing, attacking, forcibly converting non-Muslims to Islam and implicating any person who stands in their way in blasphemy cases.

The barbaric incidents of the Muslim fundamentalists can be seen in the following cases in which the state remains a silent spectator. The Asian Human Rights Commission has collected cases of killings, sectarian violence, lynching and false implication of blasphemy charges during the eight months of this year. Most of the cases were taken from the Urgent Appeals of the Asian Human Rights Commission and research compilations by Mr. Nafees Mohammad based on news clippings from the Daily Express Tribune, Daily Dawn, Daily Time and Daily TheNews.

On August 27, 2012, three more persons from the Hazara Shia community were shot dead and two were injured. The deceased were identified as Zamin Ali, Mustafa and Muhammad Ali. The injured were Ghulam Raza and Zahir Shah. Police said that a pick-up, which had been on its way to Marriabad from Hazara Town, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, came under attack on the Spini Road.

Also during August more than 35 Shiites were killed by assailants in military uniform. During this period around 150 Shiites were killed in different attacks. The attackers claim to be followers of the Wahabi sect, a Saudi Arabian sect, which itself is a minority in Pakistan and number even fewer in comparison to Shia sect.

On August 16, in the early morning, four buses, carrying passengers from Gilgit to Rawalpindi, a city of Punjab, were halted by around 50 men in military uniforms at Babusar Top in Kaghan valley, Mansehra district. All the passengers were asked to alight from the busses and show their national identity cards, after identifying 25 persons as Shia Muslims. Their hands were tied and more than a dozen assailants opened fire at them, killing all 25. After the shooting they marched away in military style shouting Allah ho Akbar.

The Shias from Hazara tribe of Balochistan were killed in those areas which were under the strict control of the Pakistan army and its unit, the Frontier Corp. the places of killings were barely three to 500 meters from the military check posts.

Further incidents may be seen at:

August 18, The 11 persons, from the Sunni sect, were killed in sectarian violence occurred in District Central,Karachi  where 10 people lost their lives in overnight killings that took place in a span of two hours, while another man was killed at noon. Police suspect the wave of violence was in retaliation  for attacks on the Shia community. The first attack occurred in Gulberg locality, where motorcyclists fired on Qari Asif and Qari Shakirullah while they were sitting in their office. At around 1:20am, the second target were three friends: Maulana Muhammad Yahya, 32, Faizan Ilyas, 27 and Mujahid Aleem, 26. Twenty minutes later, a similar incident occurred near Masjid-o-Madrassa Quba, just two kilometres from Masjid-o-Madrassa Yasinul Quran. Assailants sprayed people sitting at Café Green with bullets, killing five people and injuring another. One of the men killed, Hafiz Sharjeel Ali, was associated with the Tableeghi Jamaat. Witnesses and acquaintances claimed the five men were targeted because they were Deobandi, a sect from Sunni Muslim. The fourth such incident occurred at a two-kilometre distance from where the funeral prayers for the Gulberg victims were being offered – another Deobandi, Qari Ahsan, 30, was gunned down when he was returning home from Friday prayers.

On August 17, Karachi: A day after a horrific massacre of 19 Shias in Mansehra, a bus carrying young Shia men was targeted by a bomb in Karachi. Two of them were killed and 13 others were injured. The bomb was planted at a footpath near the main gate of Safari Park, close to an electric substation. The bus was carrying activists of the Imamia Student Organisation (ISO) who boarded the bus at Karachi University

On August 16, a minor Christian girl, Miss Ramsha, 11, with Down ‘s syndrome, was arrested on the charges of blasphemy when she burned some copies of newspapers which were collected from the garbage. The Muslim population of the slum area attacked her house and beat her mother and sister and also burned some houses of Christians. The police arrested the mother and her two daughters and immediately sent Ramsha to Adiala prison illegally as according to law minors below the age of 15 years cannot be sent to prison or detained in police lockup. After her arrest police took the custody of her mother and sister and their whereabouts are unknown. Police say that both mother and daughter are in the protective custody because of the apprehension of their killing by the Muslim activists. However, the Christian community suspect that they were handed over the Muslim activists and that their lives may be in serious danger.

In August, more than 200 Hindu families migrated to India because of continuous abduction for ransom, forced conversion to Islam after kidnapping, attack on their places of worship and houses, displacement, accusation of blasphemy and general persecution by the Muslim seminaries. Hindus, whose sizeable population live in all the districts of Sindh, have been facing continued incidence of violence compelling them to live under insecurity. The trend has continued for many years now.

On July 4, in Bahawalpur there was a harrowing incident of mob justice, hundreds of people accused a ‘deranged’ man of sacrilege, mercilessly beat him and burnt him alive in southern Punjab. The incident took place in Chanighot area of Bahawalpur. Residents saw a man allegedly throwing pages from the Holy Quran onto the street. Local police took him into custody and put him in the lockup. Soon a frenzied mob gathered outside the Chanighot police station baying for blood. Police couldn’t stand up to the furious and violent crowd who got hold of the alleged blasphemer, described by one police official as deranged, and brutally tortured him. Nine police officers, including SHO Gujjar and DSP were injured while trying – though unsuccessfully – to rescue the man. The mob burnt down several police vehicles, including DSP Mumtaz’s four-wheeler, before getting hold of the man, who has not been identified.

On July 19, Karachi, a devout senior Ahmadiy Muslim, Mr Naeem Ahmad Gondal, was shot in the head by two motorcyclists and died on the spot. He was an elite Ahmadiy Muslim and also holding the high position of Assistant Director in the State Bank of Pakistan. He was an active member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and had been the President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Korangi town, Karachi, for the past 11 years. Mr Naeem was the seventh Ahmadiy Muslim killed in Karachi for his faith and belief since the beginning of this year and the world is aware of the hundreds of other Ahmadiy Muslims who have been killed in Pakistan so far just for being Ahmadiy and being devoted to their faith and belief.

On July 1 in Faisalabad mob rule trumped the law when an infuriated crowd severely beat a man accused of blasphemy, within the jurisdiction of the Ghulam Muhammad Abad police station. According to the police, Faryad allegedly committed some blasphemous acts over which the residents of Marzi Pura caught him and severely thrashed and tortured him. After this, the police registered an FIR on the complaint of Abdus Sattar, a resident of Marzipura, and started an investigation.

On July 6, Khanpur a barber was sent to jail after he was arrested on charge of defiling pages of the Holy Quran. Rafiq Ahmed, a resident of Basti Ghazipur, was accused by Abdur Rasheed, the prayer leader of Ayesha Siddiqa Masjid, of using pages of the Holy Quran to clean some mirrors at his shop. Ahmed later said that he was illiterate and had no idea whether the papers he had used had verses of the Holy Quran written on them

On June 28 at least 13 pilgrims were martyred and several others injured in a bomb blast on Zaireen’s bus in Hazar Ganji, Quetta, the capital of Balochistan where the city remains under the tight control of the Frontier Corp (FC), a unit of the Pakistan Army. In the city it is not possible for anyone to move without being body searched by the FC and other law enforcement agencies yet the militants pass freely. The reports say that a police officer was also killed in the attack.

During the month of June alone, 31 Shiites were killed in the Quetta and Mand areas of Balochistan

On June 24 Rekha alias Pubi (14) was working at a factory for the manufacturing of bottles for beverages at Gadap Karachi. She was abducted by gangsters and forcibly converted to Islam. When a police case was filed against the abductors the girl was produced before a Magistrate’s Court by the gangsters to record a statement that she has embraced Islam as her religion. The irony of the judicial process is that the judicial magistrate has accepted her subsequent marriage as legal in spite of the Pakistan law which does not allow the marriage of girls before the age of 16 years.

The irony of the case is that the Chief Justice has with his own technique of law allowed the forced marriage and conversion to Islam as an Islamic victory. The next Friday, after the prayers, chief justice met with Naveed Shah and congratulated him on success on converting a Hindu girl to Islam.

On June 16, a mob attacked a police station in Quetta on Saturday, demanding a man detained for allegedly desecrating the Quran be handed over, leaving at least two children dead and 19 with gunshot wounds. Violence erupted after police arrested a “mentally retarded” man said to have burnt pages of the holy book in Kuchlak, about 16 kilometres (10 miles) north of Quetta, senior administration official Qambar Dashti told AFP. The clash left two children dead and 19 people wounded including eight policemen, he said. “All the wounded people have bullet injuries,” he added. “The man appeared to be mentally retarded, we have taken him into custody and ordered an investigation,” Wajid said, adding that control had been restored.

June 7, Quetta: In the targeted killings two brothers belonging to the Hazara Shia community were gunned down outside the regional passport office near Joint Road. The victims had come to the post office to get their passports made and were attacked outside the main gate of the office.

In May 2012, An 82 year old man, was shot dead by the complainant in Sheikhupura after his release from prison after acquittal by a court on being proved innocent in a blasphemy case. Iqbal Butt was on his way home on a rickshaw when he was shot dead in the city’s Farooqabad locality. Two men, including his accuser Maulvi Waqas and an unidentified accomplice, chased him on a motorcycle and opened fire, resulting in his death. Javed Butt, a stepson of Iqbal Butt, said that Maulvi Waqas accused his father of blasphemy just to settle a score with him after they exchanged harsh words during an argument earlier on.

May 30, Quetta: A Hazara was shot dead, the victim has been identified as Ali Muhammad, and was traveling on his bicycle after having lunch in a restaurant on Joint Road, when unknown armed men opened fire. Later, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in a phone call to Quetta Press Club claimed responsibility.

On May 06, Quetta: A Hazara Shiite was killed by unknown gunmen Mastung on Sunday,. He was working at his tyre shop in Dasht area of Mastung, when unknown armed men riding on a bike opened fire and killed him at the spot. The victim is identified as Muhammad Ali.

On May 4, Policemen scratched out Quranic verses written on the walls of an Ahmedi place of worship and ordered them to cover up short minarets at the entrance as they made the place look like a mosque. After receiving a complaint about the place of worship in Sultanpura, Kachhupura, a large contingent of Misri Shah police visited it and told the Ahmedis they had a day to make the place look less like a mosque, failing which a case would be registered against them under the ‘Anti-lslamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance’ of 1984.

On May 4, clerics in Sultanpura, Lahore, who complained that an Ahmedi place of worship looked too much like a mosque were unsatisfied with changes made to the building’s facade and demanded that the building’s dome be demolished, The Express Tribune has learnt. The administration of Baitul Hamd, the worship place, covered the chhatri (flattened dome) at the entrance by installing a hoarding in front of it on May 4. A day earlier, Misri Shah police had removed some tiles with the Kalma and Quranic verses from the building entrance.

In the month of May a Hindu lawyer, Mr. Mohan Lal Meghwar, son of Karo Mal, resident of village Bhadisindhu, Chachro, district Tharparkar, Sindh province, was released by his abductors after paying millions of rupees. On December 30, 2011 he was abducted again when he was on way to Sindh high court, Hyderabad bench, 56 kilometers away from his residence to attend the court proceedings.

On April 18, the decision in the cases of Ms. Haleema alias Asha Kumari, Ms. Hafza alias Dr. Lata, and Ms. Faryal alias Rinkle Kumari who were forced to convert to Islam after abduction, has proved that that the highest court is a biased Muslim court rather than institution of justice. The judgment concerning this issue has worried the religious minorities who already face an existential threat, demographically but also due to rising religious intolerance in the society.

April 15, Quetta: At least eight members of the Shia Hazara community and a policeman were killed in three attacks . After the attacks and subsequent violence, the administration called out Frontier Corps in the city. The paramilitaries started taking up positions at important places in the evening.
“Seven people were killed in firing on two vehicles on Brewery Road and Subzal Road. Saturday’s killings took the number of Hazara Shias killed in Quetta and its vicinity during the past fortnight to 26.

On April 3, Mr. Abdul Qudoos Ahmad (43), a well respected school teacher, belonging to the Ahmadiyya sect was tortured to death while in police custody in Chenab Nagar (the Ahmadi community refers to it by its old name of Rabwah), Punjab province. He was taken into custody by the police on 10 February 2012 and was kept in a private torture cell of the police until 26 March when his condition deteriorated due to the severe torture he endured. He remained in police custody for 35 days with any charges being laid against him and was not officially arrested. He was forced to confess to the murder of one, Muhammad Yousuf, a stamp-paper seller from the Nusrat Abad area who was murdered a few months earlier. During the illegal detention Mr. Qudoos was deprived from access to any the legal assistance was not provided.

On March 15, the Khushab district police officer has sought assistance from the Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab in a blasphemy case against two Shia clerics. The particulars of the FIR, a compact disc with recordings of allegedly blasphemous lectures by a Shia zakir and the legal opinion of the district public prosecutor have been sent to the board, Ghulam Murtaza, personal staff officer to the DPO, told The Express Tribune. Murtaza said the matter was referred to the board to ensure that the prosecution was in accordance with the law. The DPO’s reader said that in his written opinion the district public prosecutor had supported the insertion of Section 295 C (use of derogatory remarks, etc, in respect of the Holy Prophet) of the Pakistan Penal Code in the FIR registered on March 15 against Gorot resident Shuja Abbas and Multan resident Nasir Multani.

On February 23, Ms. Rinkle Kumari, (17), a Hindu girl living in Mirpur Mathelo; a small city of Sindh province and the daughter of a school teacher, was abducted on the night of 23 February by notorious gangsters of the area with the help of a member of the National Assembly from the ruling party and local Muslim fundamentalist groups. Following her abduction she was forced to embrace Islam. According to the information received, Naveed Shah, a member of a famous criminal group of Hassam Kalwarh, along with more than dozen persons abducted Kumari from her house on 23 February. They kidnapped her at gunpoint and took her to the resident of Mian Abdul Haq, alias Mian Mithhu, the member of the National Assembly from the ruling party, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party. She was then taken to a famous Madressa at Dargah Aalia Qadria Bharchoondi Sharif where she had forced to sign the marriage certificate (Nikkah Nama) and married with Naveed Shah, a street gangster. The Madressa is famous for converting Hindu girls in the province which claims that it has the target to convert 2000 Hindus every year to Islam.

On February 23, in Lahore a mob stormed the school where Saira Khokhar teaches in an attempt to abduct her after she was accused of burning a copy of the Qur’an. Asia News wrote; After Asia Bibi, another Christian woman has been targeted by Muslim fundamentalists because of allegations of blasphemy. Saira Khokhar, who teaches at the City Foundation School in Lahore, is accused of burning a copy of the Qur’an. However, the case is still shrouded in mystery. The school is run by a Christian NGO, City Foundation.

On January 29, a big gathering of more than 5000 persons, mainly from Madressas (Islamic seminaries) was held outside the place where members of Ahmadiyya community have their Mosque and other places like a hospital and library. The place of the protest gathering was not far away from the General Head Quarters of Pakistan and was addressed by none other than the leaders of the banned religious organizations who were declared as terrorist organizations. The leaders from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipahe Sahaba addressed the rally. The rally was held to protest alleged land ‘encroachment’; the speakers used the occasion to demand that Ahmadis must stop religious activities such as proselytizing and worshipping. Participants carried flags of different religious parties, including some banned ones, and portraits of the self-confessed assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer

On January 26, five men were arrested for allegedly using offensive language against the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in Kotri. According to the on-duty officer, the men wrote derogatory remarks on the walls of six bogies of Sukkur Express when it was at Kotri. Abid Hussain, Mohammad Hussain, Tasawar Hussain, Asghar Abbas and Mirza Hussain were brought to Karachi and arrested. According to the police, a score of members of the Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat gathered at Cantt Station and staged a sit-in.

On January 27, there have been stories aplenty about extremist elements publicly punishing men who groom their facial hair in the far-flung tribal badlands of Pakistan. However, the practice has now been reported a little closer to home: At a school in Peshawar, where the institution’s administration suspended a student for trimming his beard too fine – or, to be more precise, for getting an “English cut”.

On January 7, in a mockery of the Blasphemy Law:  A man wrote that his name was ‘Jew Jurian’ on his national identity card form. The data entry clerk then assumed he was a Jew. Thus for the first time in the history of Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC), a Pakistani was officially declared a Jew. The problem was that he was a Christian. The bigger problem for Jurian, as he told The Express Tribune, was that he was accused of being a Jew – and subsequently, through the twisted logic of twisted souls, of blasphemy. After thorough investigations, Jurian was released by the police, along with three others, in May 2003. Almost nine years later, he and his family still face death threats.But his two other friends were shot dead by the fundamentalists and he is hiding.

On January 3, the car owned by Mahesh Kumar, the former President of Press Club Hyderabad was attacked by three motor-cyclists while Mahesh was inside the club building. This is second time that Mahesh’s vehicle has been attacked by unknown people. From the pattern of the attacks, it seems this is the second warning issued to the journalist and this time the level of threat is higher than before. Mahesh’ colleagues believe that this might be the last warning for Mahesh Kumar before he will be personally harmed. Eight bullets holes were found at different places on the body of the car.

These cases all are well reflected in Pakistani society, particularly after the promulgation of section 295 (B) and 295 (C) of the blasphemy law during the regime of the military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq in 1980s.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Baseer Naweed
Senior ResearcherSign our Petition: Stop Disappearances in Pakistan
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
Tel: (852) 2698 6339 Ext 113
Fax: (852) 2698 6367
Mob: (852)6402 5943
Skype: baseer.naweed

An Article from the Asian Human Rights Commission
August 29, 2012

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Blasphemy vendetta: Pakistan 1990-2009

Contributing to the discussion on the lynching deaths of two boys in Sialkot, Nafees Muhammad has put together some of the reported instances of religious intolerance and bigotry that took place in different cities of Pakistan from 1990 to 2009.

The incidents listed below are by no means exhaustive. If you know of another such incident of faith-based violence, please, add it to the list via comments to this post.

Violence and vendetta against non-Muslims and assumed non-Muslims is escalating. There were 13 incidents reported from 1990 to 1999 and 25 from 2000 to 2009. 2010 may be the worst year of all.

Mourning the Sialkot Killings
By Nafees Muhammad

Indeed, it was a highly condemnable and deplorable act of crime against two young boys in Sialkot. I know the media has been very positively covering this incident and there is a chance the culprits may be apprehended one day, tried, and punished. A matter of concern for me is that this event is mostly being reviewed and analyzed in isolation from other similar acts of lynchings against the suspected robbers and those who belonged to a minority community and were blamed for committing blasphemous act.

When a Hindu worker of a mill was lynched by a mob in Karachi a few years ago, his family and the whole community was scared of facing a similar act against them and there was no media coverage about their miseries. Likewise, the Gojra incident wherein 7 or 8 Christians were burnt alive remain a dead issue for the court and the media.

All those who talked about and wrote about the present event of lynching of these two boys missed to say a few words about those people. Why? Wasn’t that a similar act of lynching? Those who think that lynching of a person belonging to different faith, ethnic group, or nationality is ignorable, one day may have to face the same crime themselves. Now Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists are enraged and willing to attack the family members of those who were involved in the Sialkot incident, but we all know how they all supported the culprits of Gojra incident.

Following is a list of the blasphemy incidents that have been committed in the name of religion in this country from 1990 to 2009.

Timely intervention averted a Gojra-like tragedy in a Chichawatni village 8/11-L on Sunday after representatives of Christian and Muslim faiths, with the assistance of inter-faith activists and police, thwarted the nefarious designs of unscrupulous elements.
KASUR, Sept 5
Phoolnagar Sadar police registered a blasphemy case against an alleged faith healer and his six disciples under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) following a protest of hundreds of people in Jambar Kalan on Multan Road on Saturday. Residents of Jamber Kalan continued their protest on the second day for the registration of a blasphemy case and threw traffic on Multan Road out of gear for quite some time.
KASUR, Aug 20
A prominent sect of Muslims on Thursday took to the street agitating alleged blasphemy by some representatives of the rival sect. More than 100 agitators blocked Bhasarpura Road by placing burnt tyres and demanded that the police register a case under blasphemy law against their rivals who, they alleged, broke a marble slab inscribed with ‘Darood Sharif’ at the main gate of Gulzar-i-Medina Masjid in Ayub Town.
Two people were killed when a mob of hundreds of people, including factory workers, attacked a leather processing unit near Muridke on Tuesday over alleged desecration of Quranic verses. Leather unit owner Sheikh Najeeb Zafar is among the dead. At least 24 assailants were apprehended in a late-night development.
Sanghar, August 5
An angry mob attacked the house of an elderly woman in District Sanghar, Sindh, accusing her of desecrating the Holy Quran. A case has not yet been registered but the District Bar Association assured the mob that if the woman – identified as Akhtari Malkani – is found guilty, she will be charged under the Blasphemy Law.
Gojra, August 1
Seven people were burnt alive and 18 others injured in Gojra, District Toba Tek Singh in Punjab after fresh violence erupted in the town over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran three days ago. More than 50 houses were set on fire.
Azafi Abadi, July 31
A mob burnt 75 houses of members of the Christian community over the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in the village Azafi Abadi at Gojra-Faisalabad Road. Seventy-five houses and two churches were burnt by the residents of a neighbouring village.
Layyah, February
Five Ahmadis in Punjab’s Layyah district were arrested on charges of writing blasphemous remarks in the toilets of Kot Sultan’s Gulzar-e-Madina mosque. No evidence or witness was presented. They were just detained on a ‘presumption of guilt,’ stated the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Karachi, April 8
Jagdesh Kumar, a 27 year old Hindu worker, was beaten to death by fellow Muslim workers in his factory in Karachi on the charge of blasphemy. The incident took place in the presence of policemen. Some reports suggested that the victim was in love with a Muslim girl that angered the Muslim workers, who decided to teach him a lesson.
Khanewal, March 6
An elderly man, Altaf Hussain, was arrested for desecrating the Holy Quran in Kabir wala Town of Khanewal District in Punjab. The spokesman for the Ahmadiya community countered that the charges against the 80-year-old were false.

Faisalabad, October 28
The police arrested Muhammad Imran of Faisalabad for allegedly setting the Holy Quran on fire. He was kept in a torture cell for three days and later in solitary confinement without anyone attending to his injuries. He was released in April 2009.
Islamabad, May 17
The nursing school at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad was shut down and seven Christian staff members suspended after female students of Jamia Hafsa protested over allegations that blasphemy had been committed at the school. Rumours spread that verses from the Quran posted on a wall had been defaced. School authorities denied all such claims. Christians lost their jobs.
Kotri, April 13
Sattar Masih, a 29-year-old worker at a water pumping station in Kotri city of Sindh, was allegedly attacked by Muslim extremists for uttering blasphemous remarks. An imam of a local mosque, Maulvi Umer, announced some written papers against Prophet Mohammad were found outside the mosque authored by Sattar. Muslim worshipers attacked Masih’s house and tried to kill him but the police arrived before it could happen. Masih was later arrested. Later, in January 2009, the accusation was declared baseless.
Toba Tek Singh, April 1
A case against Salamat Masih, 45, and four other Christians was filed for the desecration of Islamic posters and stickers containing the name of Allah, Prophet Mohammad and other Islamic verses in the Toba Tek Singh (Punjab) police station. The SHO allegedly converted the report into an FIR within 20 minutes without initiating any investigation. Subsequently, 80 young Muslims from the neighbourhood ransacked the houses of Christians in the colony.
Kasur, January 22
Martha Bibi, a Christian woman from Kot Nanak Singh, District Kasur, was accused of making derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad and defaming his sacred name.

September 21
Shahid Masih, 17, was jailed on suspicion of ripping book pages containing Quranic verses in Punjab.
Karachi, May 24
A Christian, Qamar David, was arrested from Karachi for allegedly sending blasphemous messages to some Muslims via cell phone as revenge for attacks against churches by Muslims in Sukkur, Sindh, and Sangla Hill, Punjab, earlier that year.

Lahore, December 23
Five members of the Mehdi Foundation International were arrested in Wapda Town, Lahore, for putting up posters of their leader Riaz Gohar Shahi showing him as ‘Imam Mehdi’. The Anti-Terrorism Court sentenced each to five years of imprisonment under 295-A of PPC. Their prisoners’ records posted outside the cell falsely indicate that they had been sentenced under 295-C – the Blasphemy Law.
Sangla Hill, November 12
After receiving frequent death threats, Parvez Aslam Chaudhry, a lawyer who defended many accused for blasphemy, was allegedly charged with flinging a burning matchstick on an Islamic school in the Sangla Hill stadium in Punjab which caught fire. Chaudhry was also physically assaulted outside Lahore High Court.
August 11
Judge Arshad Noor Khan of the Anti-Terrorist Court found Younus Shaikh guilty of defiling a copy of the Quran, and propagating religious hatred among society. Shaikh was convicted because he wrote a book ‘Shaitan Maulvi’ (Satanic Cleric) in which he mentioned stoning to death as a punishment for adultery was not mentioned in the Quran. The judge imposed a fine of Rs100, 000 rupees and sentenced him to lifetime imprisonment.

Lahore, November 20
Anwar Masih, a Christian labourer and resident of Shahdara, Lahore, was charged for insulting the Prophet in front of his neighbour. Masih had converted from Islam to Christianity. He was acquitted by the Lahore High Court in December 2004. Later, in August 2007, he lost his job in a factory when his employer was threatened for employing a ‘blasphemer’. Masih went into hiding.
Peshawar, July 09
A journalist in the NWFP was sentenced to life imprisonment for blasphemy. Munawar Mohsin, a sub-editor at the Frontier Post newspaper, was convicted of publishing a blasphemous letter in the editorial section that led to violent protests across the country.

Lahore, July 18
Additional sessions judge in Lahore imposed death penalty and a fine of Rs500,000 on Anwar Kenneth, a former officer of the Fisheries Department, in a blasphemy case registered with the Gawalmandi police. He was arrested on June 15, 2001, while distributing a pamphlet (Gospel of Jesus).
Lahore, June 11
A 55-year-old Muslim cleric, Mohammed Yousaf Ali, convicted of blasphemy was shot dead in the Lahore prison. The murderer was another prisoner, Tariq Mota, a member the banned Sunni militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba. Ali had been sentenced to death for blasphemy on August 5, 2000, in a case filed by another militant group who disapproved of his religious views. Ali had been vocal in condemning religious extremism.
Islamabad, October
Pakistani authorities charged Younus Shaikh, a teacher at a medical college in Islamabad, with blasphemy on account of remarks that students claimed he made during a lecture. The students alleged that Shaikh had said Prophet Mohammed’s parents were non-Muslims because they died before Islam existed. A judge ordered that Shaikh pay a fine of Rs100,000, and be hanged. In November 2003 he was acquitted after which he left Pakistan.

Sahiwal, May 6
Roman Catholic Bishop John Joseph of Pakistan shot himself in the Sahiwal courthouse to highlight the case of Ayub Masih, a Christian sentenced to death for allegedly uttering blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad. The death of the 66-year-old led to protests by Christians. Subsequently, the Lahore High Court ordered a stay of execution for Masih. His fate remains undecided.

Lahore, October 19
Judge Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti was assassinated in his Lahore office after acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy.

Lahore, October 14
Ayub Masih, a Pakistani Christian bricklayer, was arrested for violation of Section 295-C. The complaint was filed by Masih’s neighbour who claimed that Masih had invited them to accept Christianity and recommended that they read Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. He later made legal history when his appeal against the death penalty was turned down by the High Court in 2002.

Lahore, July
Catherine Shaheen, a teacher in Lahore, Punjab, was denied her salary on grounds of blasphemy. Since then she has been in hiding because of threats against her life made by some fundamentalists.

Mianwali, November 21
Riaz Ahmad, his son, and two nephews from the Ahmadi community were arrested in Mianwali District for their blasphemous remarks. The rivalry over Ahmad’s position as village headman was the real motivation for the complaint against him. The Sessions Court rejected the bail applications of the accused, however, the Supreme Court granted him bail in December 1997.
Gujranwala, May
Twelve-year-old Salamat Masih, Manzoor Masih, 37, and Rehmat Masih, 42, were charged with writing derogatory remarks against Prophet Mohammed on the wall of a mosque in Ratta Dhotran village of district Gujranwala – where they lived. All the three were in fact illiterate and did not know how to write.
Samundri, February
Anwar Masih, a Christian from Samundri in Punjab, went to jail upon a Muslim shopkeeper’s allegation that, during an argument over money, Masih had insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Punjab, November
Gul Masih, a Christian, was sentenced to death after having remarked to his Muslim neighbour in Punjab that he had read that ‘Prophet Mohammed had 11 wives, including a minor.’
Bantu Masih, 80, and Mukhtar Masih, 50, were arrested on the allegation of committing blasphemy. Both died in the Lahore police station. Bantu Masih was stabbed eight times by a fundamentalist in the presence of policemen. He later succumbed to his injuries, whereas Mukhtar Masih was tortured to death in police custody.
Faisalabad, January 6
Christian teacher Naimat Ahmar, 43, was butchered by a young member of a militant religious group, Farooq Ahmad, on the office premises of the District Education Officer in Faisalabad while on duty. Ahmad killed him because the deceased had reportedly used highly insulting remarks against Islam and Prophet Mohammed and by killing a blasphemer he had won his way into heaven. No case of blasphemy was registered against him nor was he tried by any court. Ahmar left behind a widow and four children.

Faisalabad, December 10
Gul Masih of Faisalabad was charged for using sacrilegious language about the Prophet and his wives. The complainant, Sajjad Hussain, had a quarrel with him over repair of a street water tap. Masih was sentenced to death by the Sessions Court, Sargodha, on November 02, 1992. Years later he was acquitted but continued to receive death threats. He is now in Germany on asylum.
Karachi, October 8
Chand Barkat, 28, a bangle stall holder in Karachi, was charged with blasphemy by another bangle vendor, Arif Hussain, because of professional jealousy. Hussain decided to teach Barkat a lesson by accusing him of using derogatory language against Prophet Mohammed and his mother. Barkat was charged under section 295-C of PPC, however, he was acquitted by the Sessions Court for want of evidence.

Lahore, December 7
Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert from Islam and resident of Lahore, was accused of abusing Prophet Mohammad at the time of Azaan and imparting anti-Islamic education to children during tuitions. The sessions judge in July 1991 turned down his bail application after he learnt that Iqbal had converted to Christianity, which, he stated, was a cognisable offence. Later on July 21, 1992, before Iqbal’s defence lawyer could appear in court, he was poisoned in police custody.

Contributed by Muhammad Nafees ( to CMKP Digest #2231.

Firs published at Uddari Weblog

Anti-Ahmedi laws: Police act as worship place ‘looks like a mosque’

LAHORE: Policemen scratched out Quranic verses written on the walls of an Ahmedi place of worship and ordered them to cover up short minarets at the entrance as they made the place look like a mosque, The Express Tribune has learnt.

After receiving a complaint about the place of worship in Sultanpura, Kachhupura, a large contingent of Misri Shah police visited it on Wednesday and told the Ahmedis they had a day to make the place look less like a mosque, failing which a case would be registered against them under the ‘Anti-lslamic Activities of Qadiani Group, Lahori Group and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance’ of 1984.

The policemen etched out the verses at the main gate and entrance to the main hall. They were about to tear down the minarets, about five feet high, at the main gate too, but local Ahmedis convinced them to give them a day to cover them as demolishing them would have damaged the whole structure.

An Ahmedi familiar with the matter said that for several days, “irrelevant people” had been instigating non-Ahmedis in the area to complain about the place of worship. He said that they had applied to the local police for the registration of an FIR. He said that the deputy superintendent of police (DSP) concerned had met both sides on Tuesday and they had reached a compromise whereby no case would be registered provided the verses and minarets were removed.

He said that the worship house had been open since 1960 in the same form.

He said there were around 35 Ahmedi families in the area and they had offered no resistance to the police action.

He said that the police arrived at the place on Wednesday, cordoned it off and removed the verses by scratching them off the walls. He said that they had told the police that they would cover up the minarets using tiles to hide their shape.

On Thursday, they told the police they would try to cover the minarets with iron sheeting. Investigation Officer Khalid said that they had pledged to do so overnight.

Misri Shah Station Houser Officer (SHO) Mudassarullah Khan told The Express Tribune that the matter had been resolved amicably. He said no FIR had been registered and there had been no protest by anyone. He said the verses had been removed with the consent of both parties.

The SHO identified the complainants as Rana Muhammad Tufail and Advocate M Badar Alim Sheikh. He said that they had sought a case under Sections 295-B and 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The complainants, who are residents of Ravi Road, about 15 kilometres from the place of worship, said that the building had the Kalma Tayyeba, names of Allah and prayer verses written at the entrance as well as minarets. “They are non-Muslims and should be tried under the law for depicting themselves as Muslims,” read the complaint.

According to 295-B, “whoever wilfully defiles, damages or desecrates a copy of the Holy Quran or of an extract therefrom or uses it in any derogatory manner or for any unlawful purpose shall be punishable with imprisonment for life.”

According to 298-C, “any person of the Qadiani Group or the Lahori Group (who call themselves ‘Ahmedis’ or by any other name), who directly or indirectly, poses as a Muslim, or calls, or refers to, his faith as Islam, or preaches or propagates his faith, or invites others to accept his faith, by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representations, or in any manner whatsoever outrages the religious feelings of Muslims shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.

Urgent Appeal: Release Sarabjit Singh from Pakistani Jail

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-154-2011
7 September 2011

Send Appeal letter

PAKISTAN: Release Sarabjit Singh who has now spent 21 years in a death cell due to an unfair trial in a case of mistaken identity
ISSUES: Death sentence; fair trial; miscarriage of justice; right to life; torture

Dear friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that an Indian citizen has just completed his 21st year in a death cell in Lahore. He was the victim of the India centric policies of the government of Pakistan and was denied proper justice by the courts. From the very beginning his case was mislead by the prosecution, Intelligence agencies and the courts with a peculiar mindset that the accused person was an Indian citizen. His appeal of clemency has been pending before the president for three years and because of the pressure from Muslim religious groups and anti-India lobby the government is hesitant to pardon his death sentence. The Supreme Court in haste upheld the decision of the lower courts for his execution through an ex-parte decision, without listening to the applicant.

The case of Sarbajit Singh is an example of a miscarriage of justice where mistaken identity was made as the sole evidence of his punishment. The victim’s name was Sarabjit Singh but he was sentenced to death in the name of Manjeet Singh. The sole eye witness of the case told different television channels that he was forced through coercion and intimidation to give evidence against the victim by the officials of the intelligence agency, the ISI.

It is said that government has shown its willingness to release him but is waiting for the exchange of Pakistani prisoners from Indian side through the successful diplomatic dialogues between both the countries.

Mr. Awais Sheikh, the victim’s lawyer, has compiled a book on the details of the legal flaws and the absence of proper investigation in the case of Sarabjit Singh under the title: ”A case of mistaken identity of Sarabjit Singh”. It is being published in London and is due for release within the next couple of months.

Sarabjit Singh, the son of Sulakhan Singh, a farmer by profession, was a resident of Bhikhiwind village, five miles from the Pakistani border and forty kilometers from Amritsar, Punjab, India. He had illegally crossed the Indian border at Qasoor, the border city of Punjab, Pakistan, in the late hours of August 29 and 30, 1990, in a drunken condition. In those days there was no barbed wire barrier between the Indian and Pakistani borders, however, there were check posts all around and there was also a no man’s land between the borders themselves. At that time he was 28 years of age. He was arrested at the Pakistani check post by the officials of Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) and kept in their custody for nine days before being produced in court. He was eventually produced before the judicial magistrate in one First Information Report (FIR), a police case, in the name of Manjeet Singh son of Mohanga Singh for conducting four bomb blasts in the three cities of Punjab province namely, Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad on July 29, 1990, killing 14 persons. Before his production in court, Sarabjit was told by the ISI personnel that he would be charged for illegally entering Pakistan. He was allegedly implicated in the bomb blast which occurred one month before he crossed the Indian border and entered in to Pakistani area. His statement under section 342 of Pakistan Penal Code was taken where he denied the charges and recorded that he is not the Manjeet Singh whose name was mentioned in the FIR. In his confessional statement he refused all allegations mentioned in the FIR and said that the real accused person, Mnajeet Singh, was arrested by the agencies and was released and allowed to run away but that he was falsely implicated in the case.

He was tried in a Special Court on terrorism charges. During the trial he informed the court that he was not the Manjeet Singh mentioned in the FIR and that his name was Sarabjit Singh, the son of Sulakhan Singh. However, he was told by the magistrate that his name is mentioned as Manjeet Singh alias Sarabjit Singh son of Mohanga Singh. He also informed the court that his father’s name is Salukhan Singh but this was not given any weight by the court. The trial court awarded him the death sentence under section of 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of Pakistan Penal Code and section 3 of explosive substance on August 15, 1991, a significant day as it is the day of independence of India.

The sole eye witness of the bomb blasts in Lahore, Mr. Saleem Shoukat, said in an interview with Indian television channels in September 2005, that he was tortured to give evidence against the Sarabjit leading to his conviction. He was told by the prosecution lawyer that he should identify Sarabjit as the main accused in the serial blasts and he had to do that. He admitted that he had not seen the accused as he had fainted during the blasts.

Sarabjit Singh, according to the petition of reconsideration filed in the Supreme Court on March 2011, strongly agitated that he has been substituted as Manjit Singh with mala-fide intention. He has been made a victim of false identification.

Sarabjit says that when he was given the death sentence by the trial court on the Independence Day of his country his hands were bound and he was blindfolded. Furthermore, when he was sent to jail after sentencing the inmates beat him as a gesture of welcoming his sentence.

According to the Hindustan Times, an Indian daily newspaper with a large circulation, in a article dated December 7, 2010, Sarbjit Singh commented about his trial in a letter written in Hindi in which he states: “However, with the help of deceit and lies finally I was made Manjeet Singh by Pakistan and was convicted in the bomb blast case”.

During the trial he could not have a lawyer because he did not have any money with him and his family did not know where he was. Also, the court totally ignored the basic requirement of justice and failed to provide with a lawyer.

His appeal against the decision of the trial court was turned down by the Lahore high court on December 10, 2001. The Supreme Court also quashed his appeal in September 2005, saying that the review petition was not filed within the time period as mentioned in the Law. Another review petition was filed in the Supreme Court which was dismissed in haste by the court in 2009. The two member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Fayyaz Ahmed, issued notice for the hearing on June 10, 2009 and when the lawyer was not there the next date was fixed for June 26. As the lawyer was busy in another court the bench dismissed the appeal and the decision was made ex-parte. Rana Abdul Hamid, the lawyer who was representing Sarabjit, told media persons after the verdict, “I could not be present in the court as I am a government lawyer. Another lawyer, who was to represent him, was in some other court and before he could have reached there the petition was dismissed.”

Again, the lawyer filed a ‘reconsideration appeal’ before the Supreme Court but the registrar of the court refused to entertain the application as it was not maintainable.

During those days a new development occurred when an Indian citizen, Kashmir Singh, was released after 20 years of his imprisonment in Pakistani jails by the efforts of a prominent human rights activist, Mr. Ansar Burney, former federal minister of human rights in the cabinet of General Musharraf. When Kashmir Singh went to India he declared that he was an Indian agent in Pakistan and was sent by the Indian intelligence agency, the RAW.

Kashmir Singh’s revelation completely destroyed Sarabjit Singh’s case and there was a move from religious and anti-India parties to hang him immediately and not to commute his death sentence. General Musharraf’s government fixed his execution for April 30, 2008 and issued the black warrant. However, because of pressure from human rights bodies, India and other international organizations, General Musharraf deferred his execution for a further 30 days. This was done so that the Pakistan People’s Party-led government, which had just assumed power at the time, could review his case following India’s appeal for clemency. Since that time the government of Zardari-Gilani has stopped the execution in general for indefinite period.

To date his mercy petition is lying before the president of Pakistan and he currently lives in a four by six feet room known as a death cell. He had been there since 1991 and wears ankle chains and at all times. He is allowed a period of one hour for exercise daily and this is the only time he sees the outside world. His health has deteriorated and at present his eye sight is weak and he cannot walk properly due to infections in both legs.

Mr. Awais Sheikh, a human rights lawyer and chairperson of Peace Initiative between India and Pakistan, has taken his case after the rejection of the mercy appeal from the Supreme Court in 2008. He visited the village of Sarabjit Singh in Amritsar, India, and collected information about him and Manjit Singh, allegedly the culprit of bomb blasts of 1990. He has been able to arrange two meetings in Pakistan with family members including his sister, wife and children.

Mr. Sheikh filed first mercy petition to the president of Pakistan on behalf of Sarabjit Singh in July 2009, the second one on February 14, 2010 and third and last on April 4, 2011 when the alleged culprit, Manjeet Singh was arrested in India on charges of cheating. Mr. Sheikh went to India and collected more information about Manjit Singh including his regular visits to Pakistan during the bomb blasts in 1990, his identification by ration card and his arrest in Canada after bomb blasts. He submitted all this information in the third and last mercy petition before the president of Pakistan.

No reply or acknowledgement from president house he has received yet.

He also filed a new application in the Supreme Court for reopening the case on March 6, 2011 after taking all evidences of involvement of Manjit Singh whose name was mentioned in the original FIR. This information also forwarded to President Zardari but, once again, no action has been yet taken to investigate the case.

Mr. Awais Sheikh was also persecuted by the media and the anti-India lobby as a traitor and anti- Pakistan for helping Sarabjit Singh. He was asked to vacate his office by his landlord under pressure from the anti-India lobby and once his office was ransacked.

More than 100,000 persons from India including, prominent Muslim leaders, intellectuals, high profile personalities from the film industry, lawyers and activists of civil society, signed a petition for the release of Surabjit. The signatures were sent to president of Pakistan.

When Sarabjit was arrested on entering Pakistan illegally by crossing the Indian border, during those days Pakistan was under pressure from the international community to wind up its policy for the establishment of Khalistan, a Sikh based independent state in India. In the late 1980’s during the period of military dictator, General Zia ul Haq, Pakistan was accused of running training camps for Sikh militants in Pakistan and establishing a Sikh state inside the India. With the change of the governments in Pakistan the policies were also changed in context to India and Sikhs, like Sarabjit, were arrested in Pakistan on various charges including on spying and terrorism.

In the early 90s there was high tension and threats of war between India and Pakistan after winding up the policy for creating Khalistan. There was suddenly an increase in the terrorist attacks witnessed in Indian held Kashmir by Jihadi groups from Pakistan and India accused Pakistan of involvement. Meanwhile, after this policy was also adopted in India hundreds of Pakistanis, with their family members, were arrested as Pakistani agents. It is largely because of this that the decision of the trial court to award the death sentence to Sarabjit Singh was generally welcomed in Pakistan and no one took the notice of unfair trial.

Manjit Singh operates under many aliases and was arrested in London and Canada for cheating, fraud and murder. His name was mentioned in the first information report (FIR) of four bomb blasts in three districts of Punjab province but after the arrest of Sarabjit Singh his name was amended in FIR with Manjit Singh alias Sarabjit Singh son of Mohanga Singh. According to the National Post of Canada, he is known as Manjit Singh Ratu, Manjit Singh aka (alias) Mumtaz Sharif Ratu, aka Mohammad Ratu, an Indian national and Punjabi journalist. He faced charges of fraud, terrorism, assassination and espionage.

Punjab Newsline, India, reported on December 17, 2010 that: “…….Manjit Singh Rattu infamous journalist who is wanted in many countries was arrested by Haryana police in a case of fraud registered against him in Panchkula. He lives under different names and is suspected of bomb blasts in Pakistan. The Sarbajit Singh of Bhikiwind was convicted in the name of Manjit Singh. Paper says Manjit Singh Rattu, he is also known a number of names – Manjit Singh M. Singh, A. Mann Mumtaz Sharif Rattu, Dr. A. S. Sandhu, Dr. M. S. Rattu, Mohammed Sharif Rattu, was some time back arrested near Toranto on two counts of fraud involving over US$ 10,000 by Peel regional police of Canada.”

After his arrest he confessed before the court in India that he had gone to Pakistan in 1983.

It is claimed by the his lawyer and family members that the actual man who did the blasts had visited Pakistan during the case proceedings in the trial court and had married with a Pakistani woman who was the daughter of an government officer and the then chief minister of Pakistan Punjab province had also attended his marriage but because of his marriage with the government officer’s daughter the authorities overlooked the identity of the groom.

The lawyer of Sarabjit Singh, Mr. Sheikh, informed the Supreme Court through his application for reconsideration of death sentence on March 6, 2011 that Manjeet Singh is an international swindler and is a member of an criminal syndicate. He is the real culprit behind the blasts in Pakistan. In 1990 when the bomb blasts took place the Manjeet Singh was present in Pakistan. The lawyer has attached evidence about proof of presence of Manjit Singh in Pakistan at the time of the blasts, his involvement in fraud and murder cases, his mysterious/suspicious activities in Pakistan and the affidavit of Syed Islam Shah (retired) deputy controller of Radio Pakistan confirming his meeting with Manjit Singh in 1990 with his application for reconsideration of the case.

The lawyer also attached the report Canadian police officer confirming his arrest on charges of murder and fraud cases in Canada and record of record published in international media.

The federal cabinet decided on July 2, 2008 to commute the death sentence. However, Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan has also announced that death sentences will be commuted in his first press conference after taking the oath of president ship. The prime minister also announced on June 21, 2008, that death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment but he has failed to issue the notification.

In Pakistan more than 7,500 persons have been on death row for many years, among them are 42 women and two children. The former prime minister and founder of ruling party, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, also commuted the death sentence during his government but was nevertheless hanged by the then military rulers. The wife of the president Asif Zardari and former Prime Minister, Ms. Benazir Bhutto has pledged several times to abolish the death sentences.

Please see the attachment of evidences
Criminal Review Petition: petition.pdf

News clippings about Manjit Singh:

Affidavit from Muhammad Islam Shah, former Deputy Controller, Radio Pakistan:

Please write the letters to authorities to commute the death sentence of Sarabjit Singh who was sentenced to death on mistaken identity and served 21 years in the death cell. Please urge that he should be released immediately and prosecute all responsible persons who involved him in the bomb blasts. He must be provided medical treatment and compensation for the loss of 21 years of his life.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the concerned UN agencies for their intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:
Send Appeal letter

Violence by cop at Nairang Art Gallery: Curator attacked for wearing sleeveless

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore

Lahore, August 03: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious alarm and disgust at a policeman ‘raiding’ a renowned art gallery in Lahore, beating the woman curator there and harassing others on the premises.

HRCP said in a statement: “HRCP is appalled by the vigilante actions of the Shadman Police Station House Officer (SHO), who visited the Nairang Art Gallery in Lahore on Tuesday, brutally assaulted the woman curator there, accusing her of running a place of fahashi, and harassed others present at the gallery. The SHO’s merciless beating of a woman is something that cannot be expected of any civilized human being and is all the more revolting because the offender is an officer of a force tasked with protecting people from the sort of excesses he committed. The policeman had no warrants, nor any legal authority to barge into the art gallery like he did along with a police party, which advised the curator to leave the room after her beating rather than intervening to save her from the assault.

Excesses by policemen are hardly an anomaly in Pakistan but since when have policemen assumed responsibility of the Taliban? HRCP sincerely hope that its revulsion and contempt for the policeman’s actions is shared by the Punjab government and hopes that a case would be promptly registered against the offender, and that he would be effectively prosecuted for his repulsive actions. Lack of due punishment for such uniformed vigilantes would only encourage others to follow suit. HRCP also urges the government to make a formal apology to the curator for the actions of a government agent.”

Zohra Yusuf