100 Cities Around the World Against Stoning

The Statement of the protest action of August 28, 2010 by

On August 28, 2010 one hundred cities around the world are rising up to protest the barbaric practice of stoning, as well as to save the life of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran. This day will be recorded in the annals of humanity as a manifestation of the protest, during the prior weeks, by millions of people across the globe against stoning as the most heinous form of medieval cruelty. It is a disgrace to humanity that, at the close of the first decade of the twenty-first century, stoning is still practiced in Iran and similar Islam-stricken countries. We, the citizens of 100 cities, hereby unequivocally declare that this blot must be removed from the face of humanity immediately and permanently.

On this day we also protest against the regime of stoning in Iran. This regime has, during the 31 years of its existence, committed genocide, established a system of sexual apartheid in Iran, and made imprisonment, execution, torture, rape of political prisoners, and the rule of pre-medieval Islamic Sharia the law of the land. Such a regime is not the representative of the people of Iran. It is their murderer, and its leaders must be brought to trial before international tribunals for their crimes against humanity.

Further, the international protest of August 28 is yet another manifestation of the solidarity of people around the world with the people of Iran, who have heroically risen up to bring down the regime of stoning, the Islamic code of punishment (Qesaas), Hijab, torture, and execution. We, the citizens of 100 cities worldwide, proudly declare that we consider ourselves the standard bearers of the universal front of humanity against barbarity. We support the struggles of the people of Iran against one of the cruelest regimes in the history of humankind. We, therefore, emphatically declare, on behalf of the world’s civilized humanity, that the path to the liberation of the Iranian people will not pass through threats or military action against, the country, but through the removal of the regime of the Islamic Republic by the power of the struggles of people in Iran and across the world.

The following are our common demands on August 28, 2010 throughout 100 cities of the world:

1- The immediate and unconditional freedom of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and all other prisoners in Iran sentenced to be stoned to death.

2- The abolition of stoning in Iran and elsewhere. We demand that the United Nations urgently adopt a specific resolution forbidding stoning as an inhuman punishment all over the world.

3- Not recognizing the Islamic regime of stoning in Iran as the government of that country and, thus, banning it from all international bodies.

4- Bringing to trial the perpetrators of stoning. Stoning is one of the most abominable forms of crime against humanity. Any individual, group, organization or state executing the punishment of stoning must be prosecuted and tried by international tribunals.

We continue our struggles until we have achieved all of these demands. As an immediate, primary step to that end, we demand that Mahmood Ahmadinejad, the president of the regime of stoning, be stopped from entering the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2010.

Free Sakine, No Stoning, No Execution, No more, Nowhere!
http://www.iransolidarity.org.uk/
http://stopstonningnow.com
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FAISALABAD VIGILANTE KILLINGS: Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel

ISLAMABAD-RAWALPINDI CIVIL SOCIETY OUTRAGED AT FAISALABAD VIGILANTE KILLINGS

Islamabad, 20th July, 2010

Civil Society Organizations, Peace and Human Rights Activists are once again shocked and outraged at the vigilante killings in Faisalabad of two young men under trial, accused under the infamous Blasphemy Law.

We strongly condemn the absence of law enforcement, the lack of protection to the under trial accused, and the impunity with which the fanatics who carry out extra-judicial killings are allowed to get away with murder – quite literally.

Whether or not 35-year old Sajid and Rashid would ever have received justice is now an academic debate. They are dead, killed by religious intolerance in the prime of their youth, for no fault of their own except the accident of being born Christian in the theocratic Islamic State of Pakistan, where, two and a half years into its five-year rule, the self-professed progressive Government is unwilling or unable to provide its non-Muslim citizens the required protection and security that the Constitution guarantees them; and where the elected Legislature shows neither the political will nor the commitment to repeal the Zia-imposed Blasphemy Laws.

We demand that the Punjab Government should immediately increase security at law courts, prisons, all places of worship, and should particularly provide protection to all non-Muslim Pakistani citizens in view of recent intelligence reports on specific targeting of non-Muslims and Muslim minority sects. We demand that the killers of Sajid and Rashid should be apprehended immediately and dealt with by the full force of the Law, without any leniency or mitigation.

We demand that the federal Ministers for Religious Affairs and Minority Affairs should immediately jointly table a Bill in Parliament to repeal at least Sections 295 B and C of the Blasphemy Laws for a start.

We ask: How many more Shanti Nagars and Gojras and Ayub Masihs and Bishop John Josephs and Sajids and Rashids and Hafiz Farooqs and Naimat Ahmars and Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khans must we suffer before the alarm bells start ringing in the corridors of power? What more will it take?

Tahira Abdullah
socialist_pakistan_news@yahoogroups.com

PAKISTAN: The killing of two Christian brothers

AHRC-STM-151-2010
July 20, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: The killing of two Christian brothers is the result of the negligence and bias of the Punjab government and police

The abuse of the Blasphemy law, misuse of mosque loudspeakers and the impunity offered to Muslim extremists are the main causes of the persecution of religious minorities.

The shooting deaths of Rashid Emmanuel and in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people in the district courts compound in Faisalabad on July 19 came as no surprise. As was expected Muslim extremists carried out the murder just five days after the issuance of an Urgent Appeal by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in which it was feared that they were vulnerable to attack. The AHRC had also demanded that immediate action be taken to provide protection for the men so that their case might be taken up in accordance with the laws and procedures of the country. Please see the Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-102-2010.

The investigation officer of Police, Mr. Muhammad Hussain was also seriously injured during the attack as he tried to seize one of the attackers all of whom escaped unhindered. The two brothers had been arrested on charges of Blasphemy on the complaint of a printer on July 2, 2010.

Both brothers were produced before the court of Civil Judge, Mr. Aamir Habib, for their remand. Banned Muslim extremist groups, which enjoy freedom from the government of Punjab province, made announcements through the mosque loudspeakers asking Muslims to gather at the district courts building when the Christian brothers would be produced. They also spread rumors one day before that the Christian brothers would be free to go home from the Civil Lines Police Station, Faisalabad.

During the court proceedings the investigating officer told the court that there was no evidence of Blasphemy against the brothers and that therefore the police had no cause to further remand them in custody. The court ordered that Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjid Emmanuel be held in Judicial custody until the next date to issue further orders.

As both the brothers came out from the court suddenly some persons emerged from the crowd and opened fire at them. The elder brother Rashid died instantly whereas the younger one Sajjid died on the way to hospital. The police officer, Muhammad Hussain also received a bullet injury and is in critical condition.

Despite the threats by extremist elements from the banned Muslim militant groups to kill the Christian brothers the administration of Faisalabad city and the Punjab government did not take any security measures for their protection. Only three police officials, including the investigation officer, were assigned for the production of the accused brothers at the court whereas the Christian community had already asked the administration to provide sufficient policemen to protect them.

The AHRC has also mentioned in its Urgent Appeal that violent rallies by radical Muslims in the area have called for the men’s death, and Christians have reportedly begun to leave the neighbourhood. They fear that a new attack is planned for the end of the month, around the anniversary of a deadly attack on Christians 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra where six people were set alight and burned to death. Mosque loudspeakers are also being freely used to incite violence, which is illegal.

The killing of the Christian brothers in broad daylight was due to the sheer negligence and biased attitude of the Punjab provincial government and police. The Punjab government is notorious in appeasing the banned Muslim militant organisations. The Punjab provincial government, during the bye elections in 2009 has released some extremist leaders from the jails, who were involved in sectarian violence and killings, which helped them to win the elections. The younger brother of the Chief Minister of Punjab is also associated with one of the banned militant Muslim groups and is involved in spreading communal and sectarian violence.

It is very sad that after the killing of the two brothers some groups have attacked the Daud Nagar of Warispura, Faisalabad where there is 100,000 strong Christian communities. Different groups carried out processions inside the Christian area until the late hours of the night and threatened the residents. They warned them that they will face the same fate as happened in Gojra last year where nine people were killed and six were burned to death.

The other factor which suppresses the freedom of religious minority groups in Pakistan is the illegal use of loudspeakers from the mosques against the religious minorities as the easiest tool to instigate the Muslim population. The government is not taking any action against the misuse of loudspeakers. According to the law it is illegal for the loudspeakers in mosques to be used for anything other than Friday sermons in Arabic and the call to prayer.

Religious minority groups in Pakistan remain vulnerable due to the continued use and abuse of blasphemy charges, despite section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code. This must be strongly implemented if minorities are to be protected. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directives of extremists in the community must face strong legal action. Charges of blasphemy are still met with the death penalty in Pakistan, and desecrating the Quran carries a life sentence.

The AHRC urges the government to appoint a judicial commission to probe the incident of killing of the two Christian brothers and the attacks on the Christian community, the high police officials must be prosecuted for their negligence in providing security to the Christians when it was very obvious that the extremists would attack them.

The government should immediately abolish the Blasphemy law which was introduced by a fundamentalist military dictator in the 1980s for the purpose of prosecuting religious minorities. The government should also follow the amendment made in the Blasphemy law that no FIR for Blasphemy can be filed without an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police. Therefore the government should take action against the responsible police officers who, without proper investigations, filed the FIR for Blasphemy at the pressure from some Muslim extremist groups.

The government should also provide compensation to the family of the assassinated brothers.

Asian Human Rights Commission
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367
twitter/youtube/facebook: humanrightsasia

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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Citizens of the World against Stoning

24 July 2010 – International Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani Day
In Vancouver @5 Pm
Art Gallery Robson St.
Pls. Join Us!

We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned about the fate of 43 year old Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani and fear she may be executed in Iran at any time for ‘having an illicit relationship.’

We call on people everywhere to intensify their protests by marking Saturday 24 July as the International Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani Day. On the Saturday, we ask you to come out on to the streets and in city centres across the globe at 2pm local time bringing photos of Sakine and messages in her defence and against stoning and execution. Other measures that can be taken include highlighting her case wherever possible, signing petitions (http://stopstonningnow.com/), (http://www.avaaz.org/) and (http://freesakineh.org/), joining rallies, and keeping pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The mother of two has already received 99 lashes and been sentenced to death by stoning. Sajjad, her 22-year-old son, who raised the alarm of her imminent stoning when there was no further legal recourse via an open letter to the people of the world (http://notonemoreexecution.org/) and said ‘there is no justice’ in Iran (www.notonemoreexecution.org/-sajjad) has been summoned to the Ministry of Intelligence for his brave efforts to secure his mother’s freedom (http://notonemoreexecution.org/press-release).

As a result of the public outcry, the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in London has issued a press release stating that the regime did not intend to stone her, that stoning in Iran was rare and that there was no truth to the reports (http://iransolidarity.blogspot.com). Her lawyer, however, has made it clear that ‘Iranian embassies are not a part of the judiciary system, and it is the judiciary which should cancel this sentence’ (http://notonemoreexecution.org/-sakineh4/). Rather than being rare, a new report has found that over 100 known stonings have already taken place and another 25 known cases await death by stoning in Iran (http://countmein-iran.com/Sangsarha). Since the global protests, families of others held in Tabriz prison have come forward with news of 170 people sentenced to death, including children, youth, and 18 men and women for being gay. Two other women also await death by stoning in the same prison including Azar Bagheri who was 15 when she was arrested and 25 year old Maryam Ghorbanzadeh who is currently pregnant (http://notonemoreexecution.org/press-release-no-13/).

On 24 July 2010 at 2pm join us and make the world stand still in its rage against medievalism and barbarity and in its support of humanity. Sakine, her children and the many others awaiting death by stoning and execution deserve nothing less.

Signatories
Mina Ahadi, International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions (Germany)
Maryam Namazie, Iran Solidarity, Equal Rights Now – Organisation against Women’s Discrimination in Iran and One Law for All (UK)
Maria Rohaly, Mission Free Iran (USA)
Shahla Abgari, Human Rights Activist (USA)
Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Stop Child Executions (Canada)
Russell Blackford, University of Newcastle (Australia)
Caroline Brancher, Union des Familles Laïques (France)
Helle Merete Brix, Journalist and Writer (Denmark)
Roy Brown, International Humanist and Ethical Union (Switzerland)
Ed Buckner, President, American Atheists (USA)
Peter Calluy, Belgian Humanist Society (Belgium)
Pierre Cassen, Riposte Laïque (France)
Megan Cornish, Seattle Radical Women (USA)
Parvin Darabi, Dr. Homa Darabi Foundation (USA)
Richard Dawkins, Scientist (UK)
Sanal Edamaruku, Rationalist International (India)
Bill Flanagan, Queen’s University (Canada)
Tahir Aslam Gora, Writer and Journalist (Canada)
AC Grayling, Writer and Philosopher (UK)
Laura Guidetti, Marea Association (Italy)
Maria Hagberg, Network against Honour-Related Violence (Sweden)
Johann Hari, Journalist (UK)
Farzana Hassan, Author (Canada)
Tasneem Khalil, Independent World Report (Sweden)
Hope Knutsson, Sidmennt, the Icelandic Ethical Humanist Association (Iceland)
Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement (Nigeria)
Sonia Jabbar, Journalist (India)
Trefor Jenkins, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)
Ghulam Mustafa Lakho, High Court Advocate (Pakistan)
Monica Lanfranco, Marea Feminist Review (Italy)
Anne-marie Lizin, Belgian Senate Honorary Speaker (Belgium)
Marieme Helie Lucas, Secularism Is A Women’s Issue (France)
Kinga Lohmann, KARAT Coalition (Poland)
Mohamed Mahmoud, Centre for Critical Studies of Religion (UK)
Irshad Manji, European Foundation for Democracy and New York University (USA)
Caspar Melville, Rationalist Association (UK)
Behnaz Parman, Artist (Germany)
Angela Payne, Anti-Injustice Movement (UK)
Clancy Pegg, Bioethics Journal (UK)
Naomi Phillips, British Humanist Association (UK)
David Pollock, European Humanist Federation (UK)
Venita Popovic, Zenicke Sveske Journal (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Gita Sahgal, Human Rights Campaigner (UK)
Terry Sanderson, National Secular Society (UK)
Nina Sankari, European Feminist Initiative (Poland)
Udo Schuklenk, Queen’s University (Canada)
Aisha Lee Shaheed, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (UK)
Issam Shukri, Defense of Secularism and Civil Rights in Iraq (Canada)
Elizabeth Sidney, Women Worldwide Advancing Freedom and Equality (UK)
Joan Smith, Writer and Activist (UK)
Roy Speckhardt, American Humanist Association (USA)
Annie Sugier, Ligue du Droit International Des Femmes (France)
Richy Thompson, National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies (UK)
Christine Tasin, Résistance Républicaine (France)
Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner UK)
Giti Thadani, Writer and Filmmaker (India)
Shishir Thadani, South Asian Voice (India)
Gianni Verdoliva, Journalist (Italy)

Notes
1. The new and comprehensive list of persons stoned to death or awaiting death by stoning in Iran compiled by Farshad Hosseini of the ICAE is available in Persian: http://countmein-iran.com/Sangsarha. It is being translated into English.

2. See a 17 July article in the Times calling for the eviction of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the UN Commission on the Status of Women: http://iransolidarity.blogspot.com/

3. For more information, please contact:
Mina Ahadi, Germany, ICAE and ICAS Coordinator
minaahadi@aol.com
0049 1775692413
Ahmad Fatemi, ICAE Public Relations
fatemimark@gmail.com
0046 0735203817
Maryam Namazie, UK, Iran Solidarity Spokesperson iransolidaritynow@gmail.com
0044 7719166731

4. To donate to the important work of the International Committee Against Stoning and International Committee Against Executions, please make your cheque payable to ‘Count Me In – Iran’ and send to BM Box 6754, London WC1N 3XX, UK. You can also pay via Paypal (http://countmein-iran.com/donate.html). Please earmark your donation.

5. You can also find the latest news on the following websites:
International Committee Against Executions
http://notonemoreexecution.org/
International Committee Against Stoning
http://stopstonningnow.com/wpress/
Facebook Page of Save Sakine Mohamadi Ashtiani: http://www.facebook.com/

RSVP
Friends of Women In The Middle East (FWME)
http://www.equal-rights-now.com/
Zahra A.

Pakistan: Statement on Constitutional Petition on the 18th Amendment

Statement Issued by the Civil Society Representatives at a Joint Press Conference on Constitutional Petition on the 18th Amendment

Venue: The Lahore Press Club
Date: July 10, 2010

Dear Journalists
Thank you very much for sparing some time to attend our press conference. We wish to talk about the constitutional petition filed by various civil society organizations and activists in their individual capacity in the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) on Wednesday, July 8, 2010 to become interveners in the petitions against the recently passed 18th Amendment of Constitution. The Petition has been filed by senior lawyer Salman Akram Raja in favour of the 18th Amendment with an attempt to place a broad‐based civil society perspective before the apex court.

Prominent petitioners include Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, President Workers’ Party Pakistan Abid Hasan Minto, Shirkat Ghah Women’s Resource Centre’s Khawar Mumtaz, Senior columnist Kamran Shafi, Principal, St. Mary’s Academy, Rawalpindi Cecil Chaudhry, President Pakistan Peace Coalition Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar, Syed Mukhtar Bacha, Muhammad Osama Siddique, the All Pakistan Trade Unions Federation (APTUF), the Omar Asghar Khan Foundation, the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), the Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, the Sungi Development Foundation, the Institute for Social Movements (ISM), the South Asia Partnership (Pakistan), the Awami Party, the Labour Party Pakistan, and the We Journalists.

All these individuals and institutions have a long history of struggle for the rule of law, democracy and the independence of judiciary. They consider the sovereignty of the parliament as well as judicial independence and rule of law are equally important for democracy and progress and prosperity of the country. We firmly believe that for unhindered independence of judiciary a democratic process for appointment of judges in the superior courts is essential. Such a process should be transparent and with oversight of public representatives. We consider the inclusion of Article 175A of the Constitution as an attempt by the Parliament to put in place a process that is transparent and aimed at generating broad‐based agreement between various stakeholders with respect to appointment of the superior judiciary.

In fact, the role of the Parliamentary Committee is subsidiary to that of the Judicial Commission in so far as the Parliamentary Committee may only disapprove a name forwarded by the Judicial Commission with a super majority of six out of eight drawn from across the various political divides in the Parliament. The fact that the Parliamentary Committee may not suggest any names of its own ensures that no person may be appointed to the superior judiciary of the country without enjoying the support of the Judicial Commission.

Consequently, only those persons will be elevated to the Bench whose professional competence and character have passed the test of scrutiny by the Judicial Commission and were not unacceptable to an overwhelming majority of the members of the Parliamentary Committee. The petitions challenging various aspects of the Eighteenth Amendment to the 1973 Constitution are all based on the premise that the Supreme Court possesses the jurisdiction to declare void procedural amendments to the Constitution on the grounds of violation of the Basic Structure or the Basic Features of the Constitution. In our view, this is a theory of substantive rather than procedural review of the constitutional amendments and remains the single most controversial theory of constitutional law globally.

We believe that an elected Parliament represents the will of people. And that the Parliament and no other institution has the competence to frame laws and effect amendments to the Constitution in the broader interest of the people. We have submitted that recourse to the Objectives Resolution of 1949 for finding support for the principle of independence of the judiciary is unnecessary. In our view, the Objective Resolution is controversial political document. The independence of the judiciary was a venerated principle in Pakistan’s
constitutionalism long before the Objectives Resolution was made a substantive part of the Constitution by the dictator who had chosen to redraw the ‘ideological frontiers’ of this nation and had appointed himself the guardian of his self‐conceived ideological domain. Several judgments of the superior courts of the country provide rousing testimony to this fact.

We condemn the letter by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to the Chief Justice of Pakistan saying that the restoration of the Chief Justice and other judges through an executive order had been unconstitutional. We believe that judges were neither removed nor restored and all the orders regarding removal of judges including the proclamation of emergency by the dictator General Musharraf were actually illegal. The Supreme Court had already issued verdicts declaring the removal of judges and state of emergency as illegal. We are of the view that the NAB letter at this time has been issued to subvert the
constitutional reforms process. We demand that the government should take stern action against all responsible officials of NAB for writing the letter to the Supreme Court.

We strongly condemn the resolution adopted by the Punjab Assembly accusing the media for unfounded wrong doings. We think it is highly deplorable and would like to remind our legislatures that they are there in the assemblies because of the struggle and sacrifices made by the media for democracy and freedom of expression in Pakistan. The media in Pakistan has always stood against dictatorship and the role of media needs to be appreciated. We very strongly condemn the Punjab Government in patronizing anti media campaign. We think it is a conspiracy against the democratic set up in the country, and the people who are responsible for such a campaign against media must be exposed and punished. We, the members of civil society of Pakistan, show our solidarity with the media and warn the Punjab Government or such powers that we will not allow them to defame media and undermine the important role of media in instituting strong democratic dispensation in Pakistan. Our petition is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on Monday, July 12, 2010.
Thanks

Participants:
1. Neelam Hussain, Simorgh Women’s Resource and Publication Centre
2. Mohammad Tahseen, South Asia Partnership Pakistan
3. Khawar Mumtaz, Shirkat Gah Women’s Resource Centre
4. Farooq Tariq, Spokesperson, Labour Party Pakistan

Copy of the write petition.

More information: Farooq Tariq
Spokesperson, Labour Party Pakistan
40-Abbot Road Lahore, Pakistan
Tel: 92 42 6315162 Fax: 92 42 6271149 Mobile: 92 300 8411945
labour_party@yahoo.com
www.laborpakistan.org
www.jeddojuhd.com

WAF outraged at jirga’s judgment of stoning to death

Staff Report

LAHORE: Women’s Action Forum (WAF) is outraged at reports of yet another “judgement of stoning to death due to illicit relations”, pronounced by a self-styled jirga convened in Kala Dhaka, wherein it was alleged that a man and a woman were seen walking together in a field in Madakhail.

WAF noted that Kala Dhaka was a Provincially Administered Tribal Area (PATA) until it was converted into a settled area and renamed ‘Torghar’ last week, after which it might be excused for demanding the writ of the state, the pronouncements of the judiciary, and the provincial law enforcement system to be de jure and de facto functional.

WAF states that there appears to be no law enforcement and no heed paid to the higher judiciary (including the Supreme Court’s) declaring jirgas and panchayats to be illegal parallel systems of “justice” and instructing the respective federal and provincial governments to eradicate them, and to punish those who participate in them.

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=201079\story_9-7-2010_pg7_17

PAKISTAN: No investigation into Police-participated rape/murder case

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-084-2009
21 July 2009

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that no investigation is being done into the rape and murder of a woman last year by a group of men, which included two police officers. Station heads have allegedly requested bribes from the victim’s family and accepted large sums from the accused, and no investigation has been done. The family has reported an escalation in threats pressuring them to withdraw their case, one being that the victim’s daughters will soon suffer her fate. They have asked for protection but have received none. The AHRC is gravely concerned for their safety, and for those living under the jurisdiction of Cantt police station, where there appears to be gross corruption and scant regard for the rule of law.

CASE DETAILS: (According to relatives of the victim and staff at a local NGO)
On August 23, 2008, the Aslam family realised that Shehnaz Bibi, a local matchmaker and mother of six, had gone missing. When they called her mobile phone an angry former client answered, instructing them to take Rs 100,000 to an address (11 Mohamdi Colony Street) in return for their mother’s safe release, but they later found no one there.

The next day, after questioning the client’s estranged wife Abida, the victim’s husband and a welding shop worker, Mr. Muhammad Aslam, lodged FIR (First Information Report: a first step for filing cases) number 271/08 at Cantt Police Station in Sargodha. It reported the information given to him by Abida: that his wife had been kidnapped by Ghulam Hussain Gujjar with the help of various other men, including two police officers: Elite Force head constable Zia Ulhassan and Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, an officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police. The others were named as Arshad and Ghulam (the latter also known as Boota Gujjar).

According to the Star Welfare Organisation in Sargodha, police briefly brought all the accused except the main perpetrator to the station, where the missing woman’s family were assured that she and Hussain would be found and brought in within 15 days if the four were allowed to leave and find them, after which they would all be arrested. A Muslim religious leader was brought in and the four perpetrators swore on a Quran before being released.

On August 27 Mohammad Aslam was sitting with the Cantt station head officer (SHO) when a call came in from village Chak123 to report that a bad smell was coming from the house of Ghulam Hussain. A police search found the body of Shehnaz Bibi wrapped in quilts. The district civil hospital in Sargodha conducted an autopsy and reported that her skull had been broken with an axe; the case was changed to a murder case. Hussain’s wife Abida was also taken into custody where she retold her story, also reporting that Hussain and his friends had raped Shenaz after she taunted them about their caste. Neighbours reported hearing the screams of the woman as she was being raped.

Since then the victim’s family and the Star Welfare Organisation report that no investigation has been carried out. On the contrary, Mohammad Aslam has been asked for bribes by five successive station head officers at Cantt over the year. In one incident the accused men allegedly offered two million rupees to Aslam in front of SHO Amir Shah, but when he refused to settle they announced that it would instead be used as payment for the police to not pursue the case. Aslam believes about 1.5 million rupees have changed hands so far between the police and the suspects.

The family of the murdered woman are now facing regular threats to deter them from following through with the case, particularly from Zia Ulhassan and Arif, the accused police officers. One repeated threat is that the five Aslam daughters will suffer the same fate as their mother. Reports to the station and requests for protection have not been acted on.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Miss Shehnaz Bibi had been hired to arrange a marriage for Ghulam Hussain, and had matched him with Abida. Shortly after the marriage Abida’s parents lost contact with her and Shehnaz was asked to help resolve the dispute. Hussain was allegedly demanding his money back and the victim was last seen on her way to Abida’s parents to meet with them and Hussain.

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please write letters to the authorities asking them to intervene immediately into this case by arranging protection for the family of Shehnaz Bibi and taking the accused named in FIR 271/08 Cantt into custody for a thorough investigation. Please also urge to the authorities to probe into the allegations of bribery and corruption taking place at Cantt station, with legal measures taken against those proven guilty of graft and negligence in this case.

The AHRC has written a seperate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women regarding this case.

To support this appeal please click here

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Police officers participate in the rape and murder of a woman and no investigation is carried out

Names of the victims:
1. Mrs. Shehnaz Bibi, 42, wife of Mohammad Aslam.
2. Mr. Mohammad Aslam son of Allah Ditta, Mughal caste.
Both resident of 4/38 Mohalla Rehmanpura number 4,
Bajwa colony, Sargodha, Punjab province.

Names of the perpetrators:
1. Ghulam Hussain Gujjar, son of Kamal Hussain, main perpetrator,
2. Zia Ulhassan son of Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, a Punjab Elite Force head constable
3. Arif son of Tufail Gujjar, officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police
4. Arshad son of Ali Mohammad Gujjar
5. Ghulam alias Boota Gujjar son of Wali Mohammad Gujjar, supervisor at a stone crushing factory.
All resident of Chak number 123, Junubi Sargodha, Sargodha district, Punjab province.
6. Various district police officers and station house officers of Cantt police station, Sargodha, Punjab province, including one Amir Shah.

Date of Incident: Since August 24, 2008
Place of incident: Chak number 123, Sargodha district

I am writing to call for an immediate investigation into the rape and murder of a woman last year by a group of men, including two police officers, and into allegations of bribery and negligence against officers at Cantt Police Station, Sargodha.

Station heads have reportedly requested bribes from the victim’s family and accepted large sums from the accused, while neglecting to investigate the case. The family has reported a recent escalation in threats pressuring them to withdraw their case, one being that the victim’s daughters will soon suffer her fate: rape and murder. The family have asked for protection but have received none. I am gravely concerned for their safety, and for the welfare of those living under the jurisdiction of Cantt police station, where there appears to be gross corruption and scant regard for the rule of law.

According to the information I have received Mr. Muhammad Aslam lodged FIR 271/08 at Cantt Police Station in Sargodha, reporting his wife’s abduction by Ghulam Hussain Gujjar with the help of Elite Force head constable Zia Ulhassan and Mohammad Sardar Gujjar, an officer at the licensing branch of the Sargodha police, and Arshad and Ghulam.

According to the Star Welfare Organisation in Sargodha, police briefly brought all the accused except the main perpetrator to the station, and then quickly released them.

On August 27 police found the body of Shehnaz Bibi in village Chak123 at the house of Ghulam Hussain, and the district civil hospital reported that her skull had been broken with an axe. Hussain’s wife Abida reported that Hussain and his friends had raped Shenaz before murdering her. Neighbours reported hearing the woman’s screams.

Since then the victim’s family and the Star Welfare Organisation report that no investigation has been carried out. On the contrary, Mohammad Aslam has been asked for bribes by five successive station head officers at Cantt over the year. In one incident the accused allegedly offered two million rupees to Aslam in front of SHO Amir Shah, but when Aslam refused to settle they announced that it would instead be used as payment for the police to not pursue the case. Aslam believes about 1.5 million rupees have changed hands so far between the police and the suspects.

I am writing to voice my disbelief at the sheer extent of the corruption and the impunity being demonstrated by law enforcers in Cantt, where it appears that rape and murder cases do not receive attention if large enough bribes are paid. That no higher figure of authority has intervened and that the officers involved have been allowed to keep their jobs and threaten the family of the dead woman, says volumes about the quality of the policing here, and the frailty of the rule of law in this area. There is a clear and pressing need for high level intervention.

I therefore demand that the accused named in FIR 271/08 Cantt be taken into custody immediately for a thorough investigation, as warranted by the law. Protection must be arranged for the family of Shehnaz Bibi. I also expect the allegations of bribery and corruption taking place at Cantt station to be seriously investigated, with legal measures taken against those proven guilty of graft and negligence.

Yours sincerely

————

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111

2. Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

3. Mr. Mian Shahbaz Sharif
Chief Minister of Punjab
H-180 Model Town
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 5881383

4. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

5. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E-mail: chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

6. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN

7. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission
ua@ahrc.asia

SEND AN APPEAL LETTER

Blast at Rehman Baba’s mausoleum shocks HRCP

Press Release, March 5

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned a bombing at the mausoleum of renowned poet Rehman Baba on the outskirts of Peshawar.

In a statement issued on Thursday, HRCP said: “The bombing at the mausoleum cannot be condemned strongly enough. Rehman Baba is the national poet not only of the Pashtun people, but of the whole of Pakistan. It is ironic that the mausoleum of a poet revered for opposing oppression and advocating peace and tolerance has been targeted by the militants. But then may be it is not that strange after all. The bombing demonstrates the kind of country Taliban fanatics want to turn Pakistan into.

Militants had apparently asked people to stop women from visiting the shrine. Barring women stepping out of their houses is apparently something that no agreement with the government can talk the militants out of. Today it was Rehman Baba’s mausoleum. Tomorrow it will be girls’ colleges. Girls’ schools are already a regular target.

The deterioration of the security situation across the country is alarming. It is not a simple law and order issue any more, but needs much greater attention and urgency.”

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson

PAKISTAN: Police gang rape a teenage boy in custody and distribute footage on the Internet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-060-2009
March 14, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The law enforcement community in Pakistan has been shamed once more by an incident in which three officers arrested a boy, beat and raped him in custody, and distributed a video of the rape. A year later the boy is still in remand and the policemen have not been charged.

According to the national manager of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Ms Sadia Baloch, seventeen-year-old Zeeshan Budd was picked up on the evening of January 17, 2008, between his grandmother’s and his parent’s house in the jurisdiction of Shah Lateef Town in Punjab. The boy says he had asked to hitch a ride on a motorbike and had been arrested along with the driver, who was apparently wanted by the police. Police tell a different story: that they responded to a complaint about a stolen bike and mobile phone, and picked up the boy alone.

Ms Baloch says that Zeeshan was not informed of his charges, his family was not told of his arrest that night and he was neither sent to a remand home nor appointed a probation officer, which is required under Pakistan’s Juvenile Justice System Ordinance. Instead he was stripped at the police station, beaten and interrogated, during which the three officers raped him, including Head Constable Arif Sharr and Constable Mohammad Ashraf. Video of the rape was recorded on an officer’s mobile phone. When the police contacted the family the next day, Zeeshan’s grandmother Kulsoom Akhter agreed to pay half the requested bribe — Rs 50,000 — so that he’d be released. However the boy was kept, sent to court and the officers distributed parts of the video of his rape to internet cafes close to the boy’s family’s home.

The officers’ actions are a clear and severe violation of child rights and human rights. They contravene the Constitution of Pakistan, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance and the UN Conventions of the Rights of the Child, which Pakistan ratified in 1990. (Under the Majority Act 1875, a child is defined as a person under 18 years of age; the voting age is 18 years and the national identity card is also issued at this age.)

Akhter appeared at her grandson’s court case with evidence of his rape, but a medical check up ordered by the judge was delayed for a week by the police, reducing the chance of medical evidence being found. Despite harassment and a smear campaign from police, and despite being ostracised in their community, Zeeshan’s relatives filed petition 601-602 in the Malir Court at the end of 2008, demanding that an FIR be lodged against the officers. In the meantime eight cases of robbery were taken against Zeeshan, still in jail, which his family claims are clumsily fabricated. A judge has ordered an investigation into his abuse, but the FIR report has yet to be signed.

Since its formation, the AHRC has publicised countless violent crimes committed by Pakistan police officers against detainees and there are common threads running through them all: they are usually creatively brutal, the victims young and poor, and the crimes barely covered up; officers appear confident that their actions will not be called into question. This can be seen in the case of a 17-year-old girl last year who was kept offsite by a police station sub-inspector after her arrest and raped repeatedly (AHRC-UAC-164-2008), and in the case of Hazoor Buksh, who had his penis severed by a drunk officer in 2007 (UA-032-2007) before being forced to claim that he did it himself with a broken tea cup in a suicide attempt. Zeeshan’s case is remarkable only for the security clearly felt by police when they publicised the torture themselves on video.

The AHRC insists that an FIR be lodged against Zeeshan’s rapists, and against the officers in the vicinity of the crime who did nothing to stop it. A thorough investigation must be launched. The boy must be released and he and his family offered protection for the duration of the case, and given appropriate rehabilitation and compensation.

But much more must be done. The many rapes, torture and murders that happen in police custody in Pakistan must stop. A scrupulous and unremitting sweep of the policing system is long overdue. Individuals entering into police custody too often emerge brutally scarred — emotionally and physically — and the government must determine how the situation has become so bad, and what can be done to rectify it. Officers themselves must be placed under observation, and those implicated in brutal crimes must be fired, not transferred. A nation-wide clarification of acceptable interrogation methods is necessary, and strict re-training is clearly in order.

Without a legitimate police force — which is often the front line of the legal process — a country is weakened and its citizens made vulnerable. Without law and order, vigilante justice and corruption thrive; Pakistan has a reputation for both. The fact that children can be brutally raped by police on camera and still nothing is done, should be a matter of deep shame.

The authorities need to combat this widely held notion, in and outside the country, that being a policeman in Pakistan simply gives you a greater license to commit crime.

ahrchk.net

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Ahmadis held without any evidence of blasphemy: HRCP

Press Release, February 12, 2009

LAHORE: Five Ahmadis detained on charges of blasphemy in Layyah district have been held without virtually any proof or witnesses, the Human Rights Commission (HRCP) said on Thursday.

The commission, which had sent a fact-finding team to Layyah district last week, said its findings concluded that an investigation, mandated by law prior to the registration of a blasphemy case, was also not held.

The HRCP team learned that a prayer leader in the village had allowed Ahmadi students from a nearby tuition centre to offer prayers in his mosque. The students were later threatened by a government schoolteacher and never went to the mosque again. Around 10 days later, some villagers claimed finding blasphemous writings in the mosque’s toilet.

In the First Information Report (FIR), the complainant said: “Since these Ahmadis are the only non-Muslims coming to the mosque, therefore they must have committed the offence.” The ‘argument’ was heard time and again during the HRCP team’s interviews with the mosque administration, some villagers and the local police.

The police and villagers conceded that there were no witnesses or evidence of the Ahmadis’ involvement. The HRCP team found elements belonging to banned extremist organizations and a relative of the National Assembly member from the area had pressurised the police to register a case. “It is clear that a local politician has also used his influence” to book the Ahmadis, the commission’s report said.

HRCP said the complainant and his extremist supporters are adamant that the Ahmadis should be punished on the basis of presumption.

HRCP has demanded a prompt and transparent investigation into the matter to ensure that innocent people are not victimised. It has also demanded the government must ensure that the Ahmadiyya community in the village is not harassed or ostracized. The Commission has also asked the government to take prompt measures to rule out misuse of the blasphemy law.

The detailed fact-finding report can be accessed at the HRCP website: http://www.hrcp-web.org

FACT-FINDING REPORT: Filing of blasphemy charges against 5 Ahmadis in Layyah district

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson