‘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.
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-165-2012

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:

http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-038-2012
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-124-2011
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-136-2012
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FOL-015-2011
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FAT-008-2012

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.http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-146-2012

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. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-154-2012

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. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-252-2011/

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. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-057-2012/

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. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-165-2012

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 Taseerhttp://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-025-2012/

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. http://www.humanrights.asia/news/forwarded-news/AHRC-FPR-001-2012/

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)
baseer.naweed@ahrc.asia
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
AHRC-ART-078-2012
August 29, 2012

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Urgent Appeal: Release Sarabjit Singh from Pakistani Jail

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
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.

CASE NARRATIVE
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.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
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.

CONCERNING MANJIT SINGH
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.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/review petition.pdf

News clippings about Manjit Singh:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/Sarabjit-news-1.pdf
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/Sarabjit-news-2.pdf

Affidavit from Muhammad Islam Shah, former Deputy Controller, Radio Pakistan:
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/pdf/affidavit.pdf

SUGGESTED ACTION
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
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ASIA: Unabated violence against women impedes social change

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-037-2011
March 8, 2011

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the International Women’s Day

ASIA: Unabated violence against women impedes social change

For 100 years now, a strong struggle for equal rights between genders has been taking place in the world. International women’s day is the opportunity to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements. It is the day to acknowledge the enormous potential of women in service of the prosperity of their communities and the core societal role they have to play for peace and political and economic development in their countries. Having educated and empowered women actively participating in every sphere of the public life of their country has for long been acknowledged as the key to development and prosperity in all the countries of the world. Discrimination against women has been formally recognized as a violation of human dignity and as riding roughshod over the concept that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights. Nevertheless, in numerous corners of the Asian region, direct and indirect violence and discrimination, under various forms continue to oppress women and prevent them from fully achieving their potential for change. Through 2010 and since the beginning of 2011, the Asian Human Rights Commission has been aware of numerous cases of such oppression. The diversity of Asia clearly illustrates that the formal recognition of equal rights without discrimination based on gender and criminalization of gender-based violence has failed to materialize in practice. Violence against women is sometimes justified through the evocation of tradition and religion and is exploiting the weak rule of law framework of numerous Asian countries to the advantage of the male-dominated society. It is used to control the behaviour of women, prevent them from freely taking part in public debate and continuously undermines the expression of women’s potential for change in Asia.

The Global Gender Gap Index of 2010 offered a clear overview of the disparities which exists in the Asian region with regard to the country level of advancement in terms of equality of rights and opportunities between genders. The Philippines and Sri Lanka rank respectively as 9th and 16th out of 134 countries in terms of gender equality, mostly due to the achievements of those two countries in reducing the gender-gap in education and health while Pakistan ranks the third worst country in the world in terms of gender equality. Thailand ranks 57th globally but ranks among the best countries in terms of maternal health and 36th in terms of economic opportunity for the women, with women representing the majority (51%) of the non-agricultural labour force, a rarity in the Asian context. The gender situation in Bangladesh and Indonesia is less optimistic: ranking respectively as 82th and 87th. The scores of both countries are increased only by the fact that they have women as their head of State, but their scores in terms of economic empowerment, access to education and health are very low. Closing this ranking are India (112th), Nepal (114th) and Pakistan (132th) with extremely important discrepancies between genders in all spheres of life.

In a number of Asian countries patriarchal cultural and religious traditions are invoked to systematically control women’s lives, their free will and even their bodies and hamper the full realization of their potential. In India, discrimination rooted in gender prejudices that foster stereotypical roles for the girl child and women is one of the reasons for the poor state of affairs of women. The concept of purity and submission superimposed upon women by cultural and religious practices, restrict their access to education and limits their freedom to choose the employment of their choice. The continuing practice of demanding and paying dowry, though prohibited by the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 limits the parents’ interest to educate a girl child.

Another example is the common practice in some communities in Pakistan that at the time of birth of a girl, she is declared engaged to be married to a boy which will prevent the ‘engaged’ girl from freely choosing her future as her fate is sealed from the day of her birth.

Similarly, honour killings remain a strong issue in South Asia. The women being seen as carrying the honour of the family can be murdered if a family or the community considers that she is following a path different to what was expected of her. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that 5,000 women die each year in honour killings worldwide. However, the actual number is likely to be much higher as the cases largely go unreported.

Another example of religion or tradition being invoked by the community to control the lives of the women was seen in a case reported in August 2010 from Sri Lanka. A husband was forced by community members of the local mosque to sign a document agreeing to the punishment of his 17-year-old wife for having given birth to a child as a result of an extra-marital relationship. The woman, who was sick, was then beaten 100 times with the hard centre stem of a coconut frond.

Similarly, in Bangladesh, the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women expressed its concern in February 2011 that “despite the High Court’s decision that the extra-judicial punishments, fatwas, are illegal, there are reports of illegal penalties being enforced through shalish rulings to punish “anti-social and immoral behaviour”. In January 2011, a 14-year-old girl was “lashed to death” following a punishment given by a village court consisting of elders and clerics under the Shari’ah law, after being accused of having an affair with a married man.

In some countries the “traditions” invoked to maintain the women in a state of oppression benefit from the support of the authorities, like in Pakistan, or are even reflected in the legal framework like in Aceh where some of the criminal laws are based on the misinterpretation of the Shari’ah. A 2010 report by Human Rights Watch “Policing morality” on the law related to “seclusion” which makes association with a unmarried member of the opposite sex a criminal offense punishable by caning and a fine and to public dress requirement, two of the five Shari’ah laws in Aceh, revealed that these laws are abusively implemented by the authorities and document cases of aggressive interrogation, including beating of the suspects, forcing the suspects to marry and forcing women and girls to submit to virginity examinations as part of the investigation.

The Jirga courts in Pakistan oppress women’s rights and, though illegal, are tolerated or even supported by the authorities. Jirgas deny the equality between women and men, apply corporal or capital punishments upon women whose behaviour is seen as deviating from traditional standards and lack standards of fair trial. In July 2010, a woman was condemned to stoning to death by a Jirga merely for having been seen as walking alone with a man. In May 2010, a young couple was marked for death by a Jirga that included police officers because the woman had denied a suitor selected by her family in favour of her husband, who came from outside of the tribe. Despite an eventual Sindh High Court ruling in favour of the couple, community members and police continued to persecute the couple and the groom’s family. Legal and social complicity results in near impunity for those who continue to abide by the Jirga rather than law and perpetrates honour killings. The government has not been seen to take any sort of action to pronounce the Jirgas’ ruling as illegal and to dismantle them by taking action against the individuals engaged in running them.

Those cultural and religious representations remain strong obstacles in the way of women who want to take an active part in the future of their communities. Even in countries which are trying to achieve a 33% representation of women in the Parliament, such target remains very hard to reach; Nepal being the only Asian country to have achieved that goal so far. Women seeking emancipation are the target of those who want to maintain the patriarchal order of the society and see female emancipation as a direct threat to their own power and social status.

Acid attacks in Bangladesh and Pakistan against women who dare to say “no” to a marriage or a relationship are a case in point. Threats and harassment against women human rights defenders in Nepal further show the society resistance to those seen as challenging the established social order.

In some countries, women are considered as simple chattel that can be exchanged to maintain the relationship between families; to settle conflicts or a commodity that can, more simply, be sold. In February 2011, the AHRC documented a case of marriage which was opposed by the 70-year-old father of the bride in Pakistan. As “compensation” for the marriage and the loss of his daughter, the father demanded the barter of a girl from the groom’s family.

In South Asia, cases of dowry disputes and dowry deaths also reveal the value placed upon a woman’s life. These are cases where the groom’s family claims that they had not received enough material benefits to accept the woman into the family. Those claims may result in assault, mental and physical harassment of the bride, and ultimately, in her killing.

Further, Asia continues to suffer from a massive phenomenon of trafficking in women. In many cases the authorities cooperate with trafficking rings and brothels were women are kept, effectively imprisoned for sex work. Due to the irregular immigration of trafficked women, the victims often have no legal status in the country where they are trafficked to and risk detention should they try to escape or lodge a complaint with the local authorities. In Thailand, sex workers are particularly at risk of exploitation and stigmatisation with cases of arrest and humiliation commonly reported, while rape cases of women sex workers are not properly dealt with.

All the cases mentioned above clearly show a pattern that, although the attitude of state actors is primordial in dealing with cases of violence against women, the functioning of law enforcement agencies in practice reflects the patriarchal values of the society and further contribute to oppress the women. The systematic failures of the criminal justice systems have been exploited by perpetrators to deny justice and protection to the victims of gender-based violence and to maintain the women in a situation of vulnerability. For instance, in almost all the countries in Asia, authorities at all levels of the judicial system have denied assistance and justice to rape victims and protected the perpetrators, resulting in a de facto “decriminalisation of rape”. Victims of rape and gender-based violence seeking legal redress face harassment, threats from the authorities and community members and often the courage required to confront such obstacles to get justice is only rewarded with impunity for the perpetrators. This starts from the moment the victim makes the complaint of rape. In almost all of Asia there are incidents of police officers refusing to accept the complaint, forcing the victim to negotiate a settlement with the perpetrators or in specific countries even to marry the perpetrators.

Collusion between the perpetrators of rape and police officers is common. Further, the social stigma surrounding rape and women filing cases in the police station and economic dependency of women are the most important of all obstacles hampering the women’s access to redress.

In a case in Nepal last July, the police took the rape victim in custody twice at the demand of the perpetrators which resulted in having all the physical traces of rape disappear. In Sri Lanka, in January 2011, the family of a 23-year-old physically and mentally disabled rape victim was forced by the police to accept monetary compensation from the perpetrator as a settlement for the case. In Pakistan, in December 2010, a woman was raped by a local gangster with the help of two police informers and was forced by the police to withdraw her complaint. In India, women face additional risks at the hands of law enforcement officers than their male counterparts due to the risk of sexual harassment and even custodial rape. In a case reported on 1 February this year, once again from Assam state, the police officers assaulted and sexually abused a woman and her mother when the officers came to their house in search of a male suspect. In this case too, the police have refused to register a case against the accused despite written complaints.

These cases, from different corners of Asia, illustrate that protecting the right of women is intrinsically linked to the state of rule of law in the country, in particular to a sensitisation of the police and to the introduction of accountability within the ranks of law enforcement agencies.

All over Asia, the situation of women belonging to communities which are traditionally marginalized and discriminated against deserves a special mention as those women will be exploited at several levels with even less access to judiciary and state institutions than women belonging to the dominant majority in the country.

In India and Nepal for instance, women belonging to the Dalit or tribal communities are more vulnerable to rape as their lives and dignity are seen as less valuable and they have less access to judicial institutions. Nepal has also recently seen an increase in cases of isolated women, often widows and often from the Dalit community, being trashed, violently beaten, tortured and forced to eat human excreta after being accused of “witchcraft” by villagers. The Women’s Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) has documented 82 such cases within two years. In Pakistan, women from religious minorities are targeted, abducted and forcibly married to convert them to Islam. It is estimated that 20 to 25 Hindu girls are abducted each month and forcibly converted to Islam. In March 2010, the family of a 17-year-old Hindu girl who was kidnapped by three influential Muslim brothers and raped by one of them, was pressured into accepting her wedding to her rapist and her conversion to Islam by a jirga. Judicial and police inaction went as far as arresting the victim’s father under a fake case and intense pressure from ruling party members and local landlords prevented the family from seeking further assistance.

The targeting of women from marginalized castes or classes or religious and ethnic minorities is not an aimless and insignificant act; on the contrary it has calculated implications and impact. Raping or abusing the women aims at not only destroying the victim but also, through her, the community. Rape and violence against women has become an instrument of power in the hands of the dominant majority. The victimization of women from marginalized castes or classes contributes to the maintenance of power and the domination of “upper” classes or castes while the victimization of women from minorities, religious or ethnic, aims at destroying the whole structure of that community, integrating them into the “mainstream” majority through the destruction of their identity. This aspect is particularly evident in the case of Burma, where women from ethnic minorities are the target of systematic, state-induced campaigns of rape and other forms of sexual abuses by soldiers in order to “spread the blood” of the ethnic majority and to humiliate and oppress. “Licence to Rape”, a June 2002 report by the Shan Women’s Action Network documented 173 cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence, with 625 Shan girls and women victimized by Burmese soldiers from 1996 to 2001 and showed that rape was condoned as a weapon of war from the Burmese state in order to subjugate and control ethnic minorities. Documentation by women’s groups shows that such cases of rape; torture and killings of women continue unabated in other areas of ethnic conflict.

More generally speaking, women in areas of conflict suffer from specific abuses and often find themselves deprived of any legal remedy; in the South of Thailand, women are facing unrest and loss but have not been provided any kind of remedies. The Victim Protection Scheme is inappropriately implemented, which deprives the victims seeking justice with any kind of remedy. In Nepal, during the decade-long conflict, the women faced gender-based violence and sexual violence but such victims have remained invisible and absent of the government relief programmes and compensation schemes for conflict victims, a joint report by Advocacy Forum and the International Center for Transitional Justice found.

Gender bias is also visible in larger issues like poverty and malnutrition. For instance, in South Asia and South-East Asia, in both urban and rural poverty, often the direct victim of poverty and malnutrition is the women and/or the girl child. In most cases reported by the AHRC, the pattern shows that it is the mother and the girl child which face the worst brunt of poverty.

Women therefore suffer from multi-layered, multi-facetted discrimination and forms of violence in Asia. The malfunctioning of the rule of law framework is exploited by those who want to prevent women from playing a major role in the public sphere.

Nevertheless, throughout Asia, women continue to gather, organise and defend their rights and the rights of their community. The fight of those thousands of anonymous women not only contributes to the promotion of the “rights of women” but also to the advancement of democracy in their community as a whole.

In countries where reservations were made to ensure the representation of women in elected bodies, especially at the local level, women have been able to make use of such arenas to raise concrete issues of tremendous importance for the community, such as access to water.

In Nepal, women have played a tremendously important role in the popular uprising of 2006 which lead to the end of the conflict and the establishment of democracy in the country. Similarly in India, it is a woman, Ms. Iron Chanu Sharmila of Manipur, who has today become the beacon of hope and peace. Sharmila has undergone a ten-year-long fast in protest against the ongoing violence and impunity in India, committed both by the state and non-state actors. The state attempted to stifle her protest by keeping Sharmila in arbitrary and solitary detention in a hospital room for the past ten years in which she is force fed through a nasal tube. In Burma, it is also the fight of a woman, Aung San Suu Kyi that has become the incarnation of the hopes for peace, human rights and democracy of the people. In Sri Lanka, women activists and lawyers are taking a great role in the fight against torture and support to the victims. In Pakistan, it is a woman parliamentarian who had the courage to deposit a law in the Parliament seeking to amend the Blasphemy law under which religious minorities face persecutions.

On Women International Day, the AHRC calls for comprehensive action, from all forces of the society, to create the conditions for women to fully express their potential for better change.

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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.

PAKISTAN: Involvement of Army and Judiciary in Disappeared Person Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-014-2011
January 25, 2011

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Army officers acknowledged that a disappeared person was in their custody but the courts failed to recover him

The case of the disappearance of a master tailor exposes how the army is involved and the weaknesses of the judicial system

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received the details of the saga of disappearance of a master tailor who was arrested on two occasions by army personnel and how since October 2001 his whereabouts are unknown. The high officials of the Pakistan army including Corps Commander of Balochistan province, a major general, the governor of the province and above all of them, the chief of the Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) had confessed on the holy Quran in 2003 that the victim was in the custody of the ISI and that he would be released after the investigation.

The Judicial Commission to probe the cases of missing persons has also submitted a report to the Supreme Court of Pakistan that Mr. Bangulzai, the master tailor, was in the custody of secret services of Pakistan.

The dilemma is that since 2001 to date, the higher courts, the governments of the federation and Balochistan have failed to recover him because of the involvement of the army and its intelligence agencies in his disappearance.

Mr. Ali Asghar Bangulzai 50, the son of Ghulam Nabi was arrested the first time by secret services on June 1, 2000 from his tailoring shop. After 14 days he was released. After his release it was found that he had lost his memory because of the severe torture he had endured. He could not even recognise his own house where he was born. After his recovery he revealed to his family that he was kept in a torture cell at the basement of army’s Kulli camp situated at Quetta cantonment. During his confinement he was kept blindfolded at all times; his hands were cuffed and he was frequently suspended by the wrists by officials of ISI. This is according to his family members whom he later told them. After his release for almost one year he was not able to run his tailoring shop.

Mr. Bangulzai was the resident of Chaki Shahwani, Sariab Road, Quetta, capital of Balochistan province. His tailor shop was in walking distance from his home. The army was suspicious that many people were visiting his shop and that he must be involved in militant activities.

Again, on October 18, 2001 Bangulzai was arrested along with his friend Mohammad Iqbal by men who came in army vehicles. Iqbal was released after 22 days he told Bangulzai’s family members that he was in an army torture cell. The family tried to contact the local officials and army command office for his whereabouts but they refused to meet the family. In early 2002, a constitutional petition was filed in the Balochistan high court, during hearing Mr. Iqbal recorded his statement that Bangulzai was in Kulli Army camp. He also took part in a press conference in Quetta Press Club with Bangulzai family members with regard to his arrest .The family members also submitted an application to SHO (Station head officer) Sariab Police Station with a request to lodge an FIR (First information report) about his illegal arrest and disappearance but the police refused to file the FIR because of the involvement of military intelligence agencies. The family of the victim also filed an applic ation before the High Court to order police to file the FIR but the court could not help the family.

On April 27, 2002 family members of Bangulzai met the then Major General Abdul Qadir Baloch, who was Corp Commander of the province to inquire about the whereabouts of the Bagulzai. The family was given assurance that they would be informed about his whereabouts. The Corps Commander sent two officers from military intelligence to the house of victim on May 15, 2002 who told the family that Bangulzai was safe and in the custody of the ISI. As the interrogation is completed he would be released but officials refused to allow the family members to meet him.

In the meantime the family members in desperation tried to meet members of the parliament. They were able to meet Mr. Hafiz Hussain Ahmad MNA (Member of National Assembly) who took the family members to meet with the head of ISI (Inter services intelligence) Baluchistan, Brigadier Siddique. During the meeting Brigadier called Colonel Bangush and asked him to bring the file of Bangulzai. After seeing the file Brigadier Siddique congratulated the family and said that Banguzai was in their custody. During different meetings the family members of Bangulzai insisted that they wanted to meet with him but every time they were told that there was no need as he would be released soon.

On October 4, 2003 Brigadier Siddique asked the family members of the victim to provide clothes for him because all arrangements had been made for his release.

For the whole one year family members waited for his release and then they adopted the peaceful protest. Bangulzai’s children left their studies and went on a token hunger strike camp in front of Quetta Press Club for the safe recovery of their father and to record their peaceful protest. The camp was there for one year.

On July 14, 2005 the Baluchistan High Court on the pressure from lawyers and civil society took suo motto notice and directed the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Chilton Town, Mr. Wazeer khan, to investigate and register an FIR for Bangulzai’s disappearance by the state intelligence agencies. During the hearing seven persons recorded their statements that army personnel had arrested him and that had assured them many times he would be released from army custody. As usual on the pressure from army Sariab Police Station Quetta refused to register the FIR.

On March 2006 Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, the member of national assembly, visited the token hunger strike camp of family members of Bangulzai and told the local news papers representatives that the head of ISI (Inter services intelligence) Brigadier Siddique has himself acknowledge before him that Bangulzai is in their custody and also assured him that he will be released soon. Hafiz deplored the attitude of ISI officers for lying and misguiding the people.

On February 2007 the family members of Bangulzai submitted a petition in Supreme Court of Pakistan, in which Hafiz Hussain Ahmad’s written statement was submitted in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

In continuation of their efforts the family members filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in February 2007 where Mr. Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, the MNA, has submitted his written statement that ISI had assured him several times that Bangulzai is in their custody. The Supreme Court then ordered on January 31, 2010 that the FIR of his disappearance should be filed. The court also directed the police to file the FIRs of other disappeared persons also.

The Joint Investigation Team to probe the cases of disappeared persons, formed by the government of Pakistan, has also submitted a report to the Supreme Court that according to the testimonies of the eye witnesses and other supportive statements Bangulzai was in the custody of state intelligence agencies.

A Judicial commission to probe the cases of the missing persons, formed by the Federal Government on the instruction from Supreme Court has also came to the conclusion in the March 2010 that after recording all the witnesses that Bangulzai was arrested by the Pakistan secret services and that he was in its custody. The report was duly submitted to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

During the hearing of the Judicial Commission, Mr.Hafiz Hussain Ahmad (MNA) has recorded his statement that the Brigadier Siddique, head of the ISI in Balochistan province, has acknowledge to him that Bangulzai was in their custody and soon he would be released. Mohammad Iqbal who was arrested with Bangulzai also recorded his statement that they were arrested by secret services and that Bangulzai was in their custody. The other witnesses as well recorded their statements that Brigadier has several times accepted in front of them, and Corps commander Qadir Baloch sent his two (MI) (Military intelligence) personnel to the victim’s family and said that he was in the custody of an Intelligence Agency.

It is appalling that 11 years after his arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention by the intelligence agencies Bangulzai’s whereabouts are still unknown. None of the institutions and officials who were involved in his disappearance has been put on trial despite the fact that they have admitted his detention 11 years ago! Judges hearing disappearances cases have stated in court that any intelligence officer involved in the disappearance of an individual should be placed on trial but this has never happened. Not one has ever been punished.

In the presence of all the evidence that he was illegally arrested and kept incommunicado in an army torture cell by the ISI, the weakness of the country’s justice system is blatantly evident before the powerful military and security agencies. His disappearance by the military is contravention of the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan for example:

Article 4 — The right of individuals to be dealt with by law, Article 10–safe guards as to arrest and detention — the arrested person should be produced within 24 of his arrest before the magistrate, Article 14 — no person should be tortured, Article 15 — freedom of movement and Article 25- all citizens are equal before the law.

The case of Bangulzai is a clear demonstration that the laws of the country do not apply to the military and intelligence agencies. When it comes to providing justice to the ordinary citizen in the face of these institutions the judiciary remains silent.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges that Mr. Bangulzai should be released immediately from the captivity by the army and its intelligence agencies and that the officials responsible for this arrest and disappearance are prosecuted. Furthermore, the compensation must be paid to his family for the ordeal suffered by him and his family members.

Asian Human Rights Commission
#701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon,
Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367

URL: humanrights.asia
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Urgent Appeal: Support Pakistan’s Christian community in Punjab

Update July 19, 2010

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-102-2010
14 July 2010

PAKISTAN: The Christian community in Punjab is under threat from extremist groups again; two brothers are illegally charged with blasphemy

ISSUE: Religious minorities, blasphemy law, threats, arbitrary detention

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that two Christian men are in imminent danger after they were arrested, without a legitimate investigation, for blasphemy. The police officers involved have not followed the penal code, which only allows such charges to be made after an investigation by the superintendent of police. Blasphemy can still be met with the death penalty in Pakistan.

Violent rallies by radical Muslims in the area have called for the men’s deaths, 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; six were set alight and burned to death. Mosque loudspeakers are also being freely used to incite the violence, which is illegal.

Immediate action must be taken to remove the men from danger, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community.

CASE NARRATIVE
Mr. Rashid Emmanuel, 32, is a pastor. On the evening of 2 July he received a telephone call from a man who claimed to be from the La Salle School, a prominent Christian educational centre. He asked to meet Mr. Rashid about an urgent matter at Zilla Council chowk (crossroads) in Faisalabad. When Rashid arrived later that evening he saw four persons standing in the dark; before ten uniformed police officers reportedly emerged and arrested him.

He was taken to the Civil Lines Police Station nearby and shown a photocopy of a four-page handwritten pamphlet that criticized Islam and its last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The pamphlet appeared to be signed by Rashid and his younger brother Sajid Emmanuel, and instructed the reader to contact them for further information. It featured their cell phone numbers and national identity card numbers.

The police detained Rashid and released a boy who they had mistakenly thought to be Rashid’s brother. The blasphemy complaint was filed by Mr. Mohammad Khurram Shehzad, a printer who reportedly declared that his assistant had seen a man distributing the pamphlets at Lari Adda, the city’s main bus terminus, on 1 July. Based on this information the police filed a First Information Report (FIR), a legal document for case proceeding in the court).

However the blasphemy law was amended in 2004 specifically to avoid its abuse via baseless charges. As details below the blasphemy charge can still be met with the death penalty, yet it often arises amid neighbourhood vendettas. Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) now states that no case of blasphemy can be filed without the investigation of the superintendent of police.

A representative of the Christian community – Mr. Atif Jamil Pagan, the Chief of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Harmony Foundation – contacted the police and was told by the SHO that a sub inspector and an assistant superintendent had been chosen for the investigation; he allegedly acknowledged that they were not complying with section 295C of the PPC because they were under pressure from extremist Muslim groups in the community. The sub inspector, a Mr. Mohammad Hessian, later told Atif that the accused was being detained without evidence against him because the case was a sensitive one.

On 3 July we are told that the police took Rashid to the Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) for police remand, where the case was correctly refused. Religious matters are no longer under the authority of the ATC, as maintained in clause 780 of the Anti Terrorist Act (ATA) 1997. Rashid was taken to a duty magistrate in the Civil Lines jurisdiction, who agreed to his two-day remand in police custody, despite the breach of procedure.

We are told that during this time the sub inspector summoned Atif Pagan to the police station and asked that he produce Rashid’s young brother. For his protection, Pagan arranged for Sajid to be handed to the police in the presence of Bishop Joseph Couetts of Faisalabad. The police then asked the brothers to handwrite each pamphlets three times. On 7 July the writing samples were sent to experts in Lahore, around 200km from Faisalabad, but the experts reportedly replied that they could not work from the photocopied pamphlets.

During this time groups of organized Muslim activists started to rally against the brothers in public: we are told that the loudspeakers from a number of mosques were used illegally to do so, and to incite violence against local Christians (in breach, as noted below, of Section 3 of the Loud Speaker Act 1965). On 7 July a procession in Warispura saw local Muslim residents chanting threatening slogans against Christians; one chant called for the hanging of Rashid and Sajid, and we are informed that the mob attacked a Catholic Church, breaking its windows and doors. On 10 July persons in another procession burnt tires on the streets; a call went up declaring that Christians would not be allowed to live in Warispura. At 1am that night a procession of motorbikes took place, with riders allegedly harassing Christians who were leaving their homes with their belongings. The protestors announced that a meeting would be held at Ghanta Chowk on 11 July, a central gathering place for su ch rallies.

We are told that the police began efforts to address the protestors on the evening of 10 July, and that after a number of meetings it was agreed that the rallies and threats should stop.

However protest gatherings continued on 11 July, and united into a large meeting at noon, at which Muslim leaders from various religious political parties, among them Khatme-e-Nabowat, Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan and Namoos-e-Risalat reportedly reiterated death threats against the brothers, because the government had not sentenced them to death. We are told that among the speakers were Sahibzada Abulkhair Mahumed Zubair and Syed Hidayat Hussain Shah, who are known for inciting violence in the area. At the meeting it was announced that a set of gallows had been set up at the tower of Ghanta Ghar (in the centre of Faisalabad), in preparation for the hanging of blasphemous Christians.

We are told that the brothers remain in detention at the police station without adequate protection against mob violence. There are strong fears that they could be attacked. The men have reported that co-detainees are also threatening them. Immediate action must be taken to remove them from danger, provide strong state protection, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Almost a year ago six Christians, two of them women, were set alight and burned to death under similar circumstances just 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra, as reported in urgent appeal: A human rights activist faces terrorism charges for publicising the murder of Christians, while the mullahs who encouraged the violence remain free and mentioned again in: Newspaper advertisements call for the murder of a human rights lawyer in Punjab; police silently spectate. Houses were also set on fire. The Christian community in Wasapura is extremely concerned that a similar attack could be planned around the anniversary of the Gojra violence, on 31 July. With such incidents already proven to be possible, it is imperative that these concerns are acted on, and the greatest efforts are taken by the administration to protect these Pakistanis from potent ial attack, and reassure them of their security and their rights.

Religious minority groups in Pakistan remain vulnerable due to the continued use and abuse of blasphemy charges, despite section 295C of the PPC. This must be strongly implemented if minorities are to be protected. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directive 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 is also aware of several recent cases in which mosques have used loud speakers to provoke anger against religious minorities. Section 3 of Loud Speaker Act 1965 bans all types of speeches other than Azan (the call to prayer) and the Friday sermon in Arabic. Charges must be taken against those who allow the mosques to be used illegally to incite violence.

SUGGESTED ACTION
Please write letters to the authorities to remind them of their immediate responsibility to protect a threatened population of Christians in Faisalabad, Punjab province, and to urge immediate legal action against those inciting violence against them.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has written to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and the Independent Expert on minority issues

To support this appeal please click here
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAC-102-2010

SAMPLE LETTER
Dear __________,
PAKISTAN: The Christian community in Punjab is under threat from extremist groups again; two brothers are illegally charged with blasphemy
Names of victims:
1. Mr. Rashid Emmanuel, son of Emmanuel
2. Mr. Sajid Emmanuel, son of Emmanuel
Both residents of house number T230, Galli number 5, Daud Nagar, Warispura, Faisalabad, Punjab
Names of those allegedly inciting religious violence:
1. Mr. Muhammad Khuram Shahzad, printer, Faisalabad, Punjab
2. Mr. Sahibzada Abulkhair Muhammad Zubair, Leader of Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan, Faisalabad, Punjab province
3. Mr. Syed Hidayat Huassain Shah, leader of Khatm-e-Nabowat, Faisalabad, Punjab province
4. Mr. Mufti Abdul Shakoor Rizvi, former member of Punjab assembly, Faisalabad, Punjab province
5. Mr. Mushtaq Ansari, Councilor of Union Council Warispura, Faisalabad, Punjab province
Date of incident: July 2, 2010
Place of incident: Warispura, Samandri, Faisalabad, Punjab province.

I am writing to voice my deep concern for the safety of two Christian men and their minority community, after they were arrested for blasphemy without a legitimate reason. I am told that the police officers involved have not followed the penal code, which only allows such charges to be made after an investigation by the superintendent of police, and that public rallies from radical Muslims in the area have called for the deaths of the men, and other Christians in the neighbourhood.

On the evening of 2 July Mr. Rashid Emmanuel received a telephone call from a man who claimed to be from a prominent Christian educational centre. He asked to meet Mr. Rashid about an urgent matter at Zilla Council chowk (crossroads) in Faisalabad. When Mr. Rashid arrived later that evening he reports that ten uniformed police officers emerged and arrested him. He was taken to the Civil Lines Police Station nearby and shown a photocopy of a four-page handwritten pamphlet that criticized Islam and its last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). The pamphlet appeared to be signed by Mr. Rashid and his younger brother Sajid Emmanuel, and instructed the reader to contact them for further information. It featured their cell phone numbers and national identity card numbers.

I am told that the police detained Mr. Rashid and released a boy who they had mistakenly thought to be Mr. Rashid’s brother. The blasphemy complaint was filed by Mr. Mohammad Khurram Shehzad, a printer who reportedly declared that his assistant had seen a man distributing the pamphlets at Lari Adda, the city’s main bus terminus, on 1 July. Based on this information the police filed a First Information Report (FIR), a legal document for case proceeding in the court). However as you must be aware, the blasphemy law was amended in 2004 specifically to avoid its abuse via baseless charges.

Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPP) now states that no case of blasphemy can be filed without the investigation of the superintendent of police.

A representative of the Christian community – Mr. Atif Jamil Pagan, the Chief of Pakistan Minorities Democratic Harmony Foundation – contacted the police and was told by station head officer (SHO) Aamir that a sub inspector and an assistant superintendent had been chosen for investigation; he apparently acknowledged that they were not complying with section 295C of the PPC because they were under pressure from extremist Muslim groups in the community.

On 3 July I am told that the police took Mr. Rashid to the Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) for police remand, where the case was correctly refused, and Mr. Rashid was taken to a duty magistrate in the Civil Lines jurisdiction, who agreed to his two-day remand in police custody.

In the mean time Mr. Sajid was handed to the police in the presence of Bishop Joseph Couetts of Faisalabad. The police have sent copies of their handwriting to experts in Lahore, but I understand that the experts reportedly replied that they could not work with the photocopy of the pamphlet.

I am concerned that during this time groups of organized Muslim activists were able to rally against the brothers in public, while inciting violence against Christians, and that loudspeakers from a number of mosques were used illegally to do so (this is illegal under Section 3 of the Loud Speaker Act 1965). On 7 July a procession in Warispura saw local Muslim residents chanting threatening slogans against Christians; one chant called for the hanging of Mr. Rashid and Sajid, and a mob attacked a Catholic Church, breaking its windows and doors.

On 10 July persons in another procession burnt tires on the streets; the threats escalated and a call went up declaring that Christians would not be allowed to live in Warispura. At 1am that night a procession of motorbikes took place, with riders allegedly harassing Christians who were leaving their homes with their belongings. The protestors announced that a meeting would be held at Ghanta Chowk on 11 July, a central gathering place for such rallies.

I understand that the police began efforts to address the protestors on the evening of 10 July, and after a number of meetings were held, it was agreed that the rallies and threats should stop.
However various public gatherings formed on 11 July, and a public meeting took place at noon, in which Muslim leaders from various religious political parties, among them Khatme-e-Nabowat, Jamiat Ulema-ePakistan and Namoos-e-Risalat reiterated death threats against the brothers due to the failure of the government to sentence them. Among the speakers were Sahibzada Abulkhair Mahumed Zubair and Syed Hidayat Hussain Shah, who are known for inciting violence in the area. At the meeting it was announced that a set of gallows had been set up at the tower of Ghanta Ghar (in the centre of Faisalabad), in preparation for the hanging of blasphemous Christians.

I am told that both men remain in detention at the police station, without adequate protection against mob violence. There are strong fears that the men could be attacked at any time. The men have reported that co-detainees are also threatening them. Immediate action must be taken to remove the men from danger, take up their case according to the laws and procedures of the country, and quell the rising tide of violence against the Christian community, members of which have begun to leave the neighbourhood.

Please note that there are real concerns about the possibility of violence due to the upcoming anniversary of a violent incident, in which police failed to act in time to protect the community, and have not sufficiently investigated since. On July 31 six Christians, two of them women, were set alight and burned to death under similar circumstances, just 50km away in Korian village, Tehsil Gojra. Houses were also set on fire. It is imperative that these concerns are acted on, and the greatest efforts are taken by the administration to protect these citizens from potential attack, and reassure them of their security and their rights.

As a final note, I would like to urge that stronger efforts go into the implementation of section 295C of the PPC. Police who fail to follow the code and who operate under the directive of extremists in the community must face strong legal action; as must those who break the law by allowing the loud speakers of mosques to be used to provoke anger against religious minorities.

Yours sincerely,
—————-

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO
1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad, PAKISTAN,
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk
Phone 92-51-9204801-9214171
Fax 92-51-9207458

2. Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

3. Mr. Salman Taseer
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 99203044
Email: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

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

5. Minister of Law
Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-99212004
E-mail: law@punjab.gov.pk

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

7. Mr. Tariq Saleem
Inspector-General of Police, Punjab
Police Head Office, Lahore, Punjab province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92-42-99210064

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

Also view Pakistani Christians face Blasphemy Laws again

Update July 19, 2010
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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

PAKISTAN: Police forced to release eight women and four children after holding them as hostages for 16 days – arrestees allegedly manhandled by officers in captivity

AHRC-STM-316-2008
December 11, 2008

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Police forced to release eight women and four children after holding them as hostages for 16 days – arrestees allegedly manhandled by officers in captivity

The Sindh police have at last early this morning released the eight women and four children whom they took hostage in order to secure the surrender of a suspected bandit. The illegal arrest and detention of the women and children were apparently ordered by top ranking officials of the Sindh police. The victims were held incommunicado, allegedly manhandled during custody and were moved constantly. Only one meal a day was provided and the children are unwell with fevers and dehydration.

The Asian Human Rights Commission closely followed the case which exposed the criminal acts and working of the police and constantly urged the police to release the arrestees. Yesterday, December 10, the AHRC sent an application to the chief justice of Sindh high court asking for a sou moto action to ask police to release the hostages and also take action against the police for keeping them in illegal detention. However, before the honourable chief justice of Sindh could take action the police has released them.

The police officers allegedly involved in the heinous crimes of arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and physical abuse of the arrestees are: Mr. Sana Ullah Abbasi, Deputy Inspector, Hyderabad region, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Memon, District Police Officer, Hyderabad District, Mr. Rukhsar Khawarh, District Police Officer, Nawab Shah, Mr. Azeem Tunio, District Police Officer of Tando Allahyar, Mr. Hussain Bux Dal, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Tando Allahyar, Mr. Jam Qurban Mallah, Station House Officer (SHO) Tando Jam and Mr. Usman Laghari, ex- SHO of Tando Allahyar along with other officials of the Sindh police.

The AHRC condemns the action of the Sindh police in keeping innocent women and children in illegal detention for 16 days and making them hostage in return for the surrender of a suspected bandit. The act of the Sindh police is no better than the behaviour of the bandits, or dacoits that take people hostages for ransom. The police are duty bound to implement the law, not to violate the law or take it into their own hands. How can the criminals be expected to mend their ways when they see the police acting in contradiction of the law they have sworn to protect.

The Sindh government must share the responsibility for this same crime which was carried out by their own police officers as they took no notice of the abduction of 12 innocent persons. The question that arises now is to how the provincial government can keep or maintain the rule of law and order when it allows powerful people to break it with seeming impunity. The fact that the real criminals in this case are high ranking police and government officers makes it very much worse.

The AHRC urges President Mr. Asif Zardari to take strong action against the police officers responsible for this act and bring them before the law. Immediate inquiries must be made as to, not only how this was allowed to happen, but why little or no action was taken to rectify the situation. The victims should be offered medical assistance and compensated for their ordeal.

Posted on 2008-12-11

ahrchk.net

Shaheed Bibi Taslim Solangi: Investigation Update on ‘Property’ Killing

Following is a statement from Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) regarding the Zardari/Nafisa Shah probe into the abhorent ‘honour’ killing of a teenager carried out by her uncle/father-in-law in March 2008 to get her property.

The barriers indicated below by the AHRC regarding this investigation are indicative of the barriers faced by investigators and human rights activists in other cases of ‘property’ killings where women were ruthlessly murdered by their male family members; for example, in the investigation of the Alive Burials of Eight Baloch women this July.

As in most cases of ‘Property’ killings, male family members do it in connivance with local officials and dignitaries; and, the ‘punishments’ are often sanctioned by a Jirga (usually a group of influential men of the area/clans) to preclude any possibility of legal consequences for the individuals who order and perform murders for greed.

Because such crimes of greed and revenge are committed after manipulating the local community with favors and threats, the code of silence is observed with fastidiousness.

Shaheed Bibi Taslim Solangi was murdered in March, we come to know of it in October. The Eight Shaheed BibiaN were buried alive in Baba Kot in July, we came to know of it at the end of August. Still, all the graves have not been found, and so all autopsies have not yet been performed. In both cases, the perpetrators, the psychopaths who killed their daughters, sisters and aunts are roaming free enjoying the influence of their protectors that reside at all levels of the government and society. From the local council, local police official and the local religious conservative formations, to the provincial government, the Senate and the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, the criminals and the abusers are being protected.

Another curious aspect is that the ‘overseas’ organizations that i have seen working with exemplary zeal to fight for justice are either silent or paying lip service against these worst breaches of human rights, the loss of innocent lives. For example, the people who had done a great job in North America regarding the disappearance of Sindhi American political activist Dr. Safdar Sarki, are silent about the familial murder of Taslim Solangi in Sind; and, the organizations who were raising hell to get Bibi MukhtaraN Mai the permission to visit United States of America, are silent about the alive burials of eight women in Balochistan. And the members of an online list who were earlier taken by Zardari/Palin vicariousness, are now happily engrossed into the outcomes of the recent US presidential elections.

Meanwhile, women are being killed for property by their male family members at the minimum rate of Five per Day, the cases come to surface months after the murders happen obscuring conclusive evidence against the killers, the witnesses are coerced and killed for speaking out, the murderers enjoy the support and protection of the influentials.

This cycle of violence, theft and control that is taking so many lives of women in Pakistan, is perpetuated by and in the interest of privileged Muslim men of (mainly) conservative viewpoints and propertied classes against either women of their own families or against women of lesser social status. The following update shows how efficiently this privileged group is able to safeguard its interests against victimized members of their own families.

Fauzia Rafiq
Nov 8/08

Government tries to derail the case of a young girl who was shot dead after being mauled by the murderer’s dogs*

The special representative of President Asif Zardari has completed her probe into a brutal murder of a 17-year-old girl that came to light late October and she will submit report in a day or two.

The case, which may be seen at ahrchk.net/statements involved the killing of Ms Taslim Solangi in Sindh Province in March 2008 by her uncle/father-in-law (the irregularity of the uncle being the father-in-law is due to the Muslim custom that allows marriage among cousins).

The girl was mauled by dogs and then shot dead in front of her father after he refused to hand over land to her husband’s family. The report, which has been sent to the president, is gravely flawed.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is not satisfied with the probe, firstly, because it was carried out in the presence of the same officials who allowed the case go un-investigated for several months (during which time a Jirga court was held, the murderers vindicated and an unrelated person punished).
Mr. Liaquat Ali Abbasi, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) is still performing his duties, he was holding the same office on March 6 when the murder of Taslim Solangi happened and he was not prepared to take action against perpetrators of an honour killing.
The Sub Inspector, Mr. Yar Mohammad Phalpoto, the investigation officer of the case, is also still at his post even though he has yet to carry out any investigation. His presence is itself a good demonstration of intimidation and misuse of power.
Mr. Pir Mohammad Shah, the District Police Officer (DPO) has been in the district since August and is fully aware of the honour killing of a 17-year-old girl but has not initiated any inquiry in to the case. During his presence the father of the girl was kept in detention and on more than one occasion was paraded naked in the village. Once again the DPO has done nothing.
The girl’s father-in-law, Mr. Zameer Solangi, and his brother Mr. Habib Solangi are still at large and living openly in the neighbourhood where the crime took place (Shah Jana and Ahmedpur). The former has openly threatened to kill the parents of the girl.

In such a situation such a probe cannot be impartial and it is surprising that the representative, Ms Nafisa Shah, did not consider this. As a result it is unsurprising that evidence has been so scant and legitimate witnesses hard to come by.

The parents and other family members of the dead girl have been taken 500km away to Khairpur Mirs, where they were kept for some days in a vocational school by the police. There, with the connivance of local administration the family members and friends of the killers arranged demonstrations against the parents of victim. Police officials who have visited Taslim’s detained
relatives at vocational institution at Khairpur city have indicated that they (Parents of Taslim) will be arrested for murder of their daughter, once Ms. Shah completes her probe and leaves the area.

Sindh police seem to be giving unusual credence to a first information report (FIR) filed by Zameer, the girl’s murderer, on March 6, 2008, in which he names her parents as the killers. Some other pieces of evidence, such as that provided by a journalist, Mr. Ajeeb Lakho, from Daily Koshish (who saw bite injuries on the girl’s body just after the incident) has not been accepted by Ms. Shah, the probe officer.

The AHRC would also like to point out that this incident occurred in Ms Shah’s electoral constituency, and that she – considering her position as a defender of woman’s rights – may find it embarrassing to concede that such atrocities can take place and remain un-investigated for half a year on her patch.

In terms of evidence and of witnesses, it should be known that while statements were being taken from local residents, the main question being pushed was the identity of the person who released the information to the outside world. Such people, should they become known, would be in danger.

All such statements were taken before the area’s district police officer or members of the local administration. The officials did not accept the eyewitness testimony of the victim’s father, who was detained and forced to watch as his daughter was mauled. On the other hand they have stood by a report offered by the perpetrators themselves. It is also curious that the administration has not yet been able to find Taslim’s grave, and therefore cannot perform an autopsy.

The AHRC demands that:
– The probe of the incident should be conducted by such a person who should belong to an unrelated area and who has no vested interest in the case.
– All high officials of the administration and police who have been involved in the case or who have been located there since several months should be replaced, since their presence is contrary to an independent and impartial inquiry.
– A new board of doctors must be formed to conduct the autopsy of the body of Taslim Solangi, when located, and
– All those with suspected involvement in this most brutal murder must be arrested, to allow witnesses to come forward in safety.
– Taslim’s family is currently in a vulnerable position. They must be provided with legitimate
security, while remaining involved in the case.

From Baseer Naveed at baseer.naweed@ahrc.asia
Nov 7, 2008

cmkp_pk

Send an Appeal Letter for Three Minors Handed Over to an Honor Killer

21 October 2008

PAKISTAN: Three girls handed over to a man who killed his wife on the pretext of honour killing as compensation

Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a man who killed his second wife for allegedly having an illicit relationship with another received impunity on the pretext of an honour killing by the ‘Jirga’, the illegal tribal justice system on October 20, 2008. The Jirga has also ordered the other party who allegedly had the relationship with the deceased wife to hand over three girls together with 20 buffaloes as compensation to the husband. Police arrested the killer but soon released him and have respected the decision of the Jirga.

CASE DETAILS:
According to the information received, Mr. Sher Dil Jatoi, 62 years old, killed his second wife in an honour killing for allegedly having an illicit relationship with a person named Mr. Shahoo Jatoi. The honour killing occurred in August this year. Based on this case, Mr. Mir Hassan Jatoi, one of the chiefs of Jatoi tribe, a powerful tribe in the area held a ‘Jirga’, a court which has been declared as illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, at Lucky Ghulam Shah, Shikarpur district, Sindh province on October 20, 2008 in order to make a decision on the murder case.

Several elites of the Jatoi tribe who have remained in power in both the military and civilian governments took part in the Jirga. The decision said Sher Dil Jatoi was the victim of honour and innocent in killing his second wife. It further said, “as Shahoo Jatoi developed the illicit relationship with the wife of Sher Dil Jatoi, Sher Dil had the right to murder his wife. Shahoo Jatoi was order to compensate Sher Dil by handing over his three minor daughers”. Since Shahoo has only one girl, a 10-year-old daughter, the Jirga decided that the brothers Mr. Miro Jatoi and Mr. Khanan Jatoi should give their daughters of ages between 13 and 11 years to Sher Dil. Besides, it also ordered Shahoo’s family to deliver 20 buffaloes, costing more than 100,000 rupees (around USD 1,400) each, as a fine for having the relationship.

When this incident took place, the people in the area were resentful and pressured the police to arrest him as he was known as a habitual killer of his wives. Due to the pressure, the police arrested and kept him in the police custody but released him after 15 days as the people’s feelings settled down after his arrest. Dr. Ibrahim Jatoi, the chief of the tribe and former minister in the regime of General Zia Ul Haq helped Sher Dil to be released in 2001 when he killed his first wife also on the pretext of an honour killing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
It is reported that more than 100 women are murdered on the pretext of honour killings in Sindh province where the areas bordering Balochistan province. The tribal traditions of killing women on the pretext of honour killings are a common practice as the tribes having a great deal of influence in the area. Four districts are under this tradition.

According to the report made by the Commission on Women, killings are carried out by men to protect their family’s honor for so called immoral behavior such as sex outside marriage, taking to or dating men, being a victim of rape and even bad cooking skills.

The AHRC has continued reporting the cases where prime perpetrators are provided of impunity by the decision of the ‘Jirga’. Please refer to AHRC-UAC-215-2008, AHRC-UAC-193-2008 and AHRC-UAC-182-2008.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities urging them to investigate the case of killing and take necessary action to ensure that the perpetrator is brought before the court and those three girls are immediately brought to their parents.

Please be informed that the AHRC has also written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women calling for intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:
SEND AN APPEAL LETTER

Send An Appeal Letter: Support Shaheed Women Buried Alive in Balochistan

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has evolved a great system of sending appeal letters to Pakistan and UN authorities to assure that the systems and individuals involved in this crime are brought to scrutiny and justice. This is the link to it:
Send An Appeal Letter

For more information and links on the case:
‘Violence Against Women’? No! GENDER-CIDE in Pakistan!

We must send letters to build strength for movements for human rights, democracy and equality in Pakistan.

Please Keep sending these letters even if the email boxes of Pakistan Government officials are full, and your emails are returning toyou. The action in itself records the support needed, and sends it to a UN Reporteur.

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