‘For Amnesty International occupation is women-liberation’ by Sahar Saba

The NATO summit held at Chicago May 20-21, was preceded by a controversy generated by Amnesty International’s poster-campaign aimed at NATO-summit. “NATO: Keep the progress going” reads the Amnesty poster.

When criticized, Amnesty USA issued a clarification (excerpt): “Some are asking, is Amnesty now a cheerleader for NATO? Does Amnesty support the war? What was Amnesty thinking?! The shadow summit — and the poster — is directed at NATO, not to praise it, but to remind the leaders who will be discussing Afghanistan’s future this weekend about what is really at stake if women’s rights to security, political participation and justice are traded away or compromised.

We were thinking about the hard won gains Afghan women have made since the fall of the Taliban. Ten years ago, Afghanistan had one of the worst human rights records in the world in terms of women’s and girls’ rights. The Taliban banned women from working, going to school or even leaving home without a male relative.

Today, three million girls go to school, compared to virtually none under the Taliban. Women make up 20 percent of university graduates. Maternal mortality and infant mortality have declined. Ten percent of all prosecutors and judges are women, compared to none under the Taliban regime. This is what we meant by progress: the gains Afghan women have struggled to achieve over the past decade” [full text at: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/asia/we-get-it/%5D.

Flawed argument
No doubt, Afghan women now enjoy freedoms in certain parts unheard of under Taliban. But, firstly, a comparison with Taliban-era is a false analogy. Even in the early 1990s, large numbers of Afghan women in urban centers participated in the public life. Afghanistan’s Constitution, since 1964, ensured basic rights for women such as universal suffrage and equal pay. Since the 1950s, girls in Kabul and other cities attended schools. Half of university students were women, and women made up 40 percent of Afghanistan’s doctors, 70 percent of its teachers and 30 percent of its civil servants. A small number of women even held important political posts as MPs and judges. Most urbanised women did not wear the burqa (Smeal 2001).

Secondly, the present gains are backed by an occupation that legitimizes itself in the name of women rights. Can women in a country be free when country itself is occupied? However, the reality of women empowerment is further exposed when judged against the power delegated to Northern Alliance by the US occupation. The Northern Alliance [Mujahideen] when in control of Kabul, proved as misogynist as Taliban [as will be discussed below].

Thirdly, the US occupation has created a third enemy for Afghan women. Earlier, we as Afghan women were threatened, and had to struggle against, Taliban and Mujahideen. Now we bear the brunt of occupation too.
Finally, the gains should not be judged in view of their present status. It is equally important to analyse a certain achievement with a futuristic perspective. The uncertainty regarding future is such that even Amnesty International is begging NATO to guard women rights. How incredible!

Contextualising Afghan women struggle
It was during the reign of Amir Habibullah (1901-1919) [although an oppressor himself, with a large women harem] that women were given a role outside that of motherhood and a housewife. At that time, a famous reformer, Mahmood Beg Tarzi, argued against overly protective restrictions on women (Dupree 1981:1).

The second and an important period was King Amanullah’s reign (1919-1929). He allowed and encouraged compulsory education for girls, banned child marriages, and prohibited polygamy. These measures were perceived as a threat to Islam and were strongly opposed by mullahs and conservative tribal chiefs (Christensen 1995). Amanullah was inspired by Kemal Ataturk as well as Bolshevik revolution.

For the first time, coeducational schools were established in Kabul. Malalai school was established in 1921 for girls (Rahimi1991:40). The majority of these girls belonged to the upper strata of the population though. In the same year, a special theatre for women was set-up in Paghman. Also in 1921, a newspaper for women, Irshadun-nisa [Guidance for Women], began its publication. The legislation on abolishing Purdah (veil) and the law of improving women’s living conditions was adopted during 1927-1928. Also, an office for ‘Women’s Support’ was established. It, however, remained limited to cultural affairs.

With the fall of Amanullah, all women-friendly reforms were abolished. Until the late 1940s, women made negligible gains. However, an important measure was the establishment of ‘Women’s Welfare Association’ by the Ministry of Finance in 1946 in Kabul city (Woodsmall 1960:163).

One of its objectives was fight back illiteracy among women. Similarly, a Professional Woman Teachers’ Code was prepared and passed in 1948. The second girls’ high school, Zerghoona, was established in 1950 at Kabul city. A ‘Faculty for Women’s Higher Education’ was opened at the Kabul University. The initial flurry of protests soon died out, and several women began to work permanently on Radio Afghanistan. A delegation of (elite) Afghan women participated in a conference of Asian Women in Sri Lanka in 1957. The Afghan government sent a woman delegate to the United Nations. About a dozen women were appointed as receptionists and hostesses for Ariana Afghan Airlines. Unveiled operators were also employed in post offices and telephone booths (Dupree 1973:530-532).

In 1964, for the first time, the constitution formally granted equal rights to men and women. Next year, four women were elected to parliament. For the first time in the history of Afghanistan, a woman (Kubra Noorazai) served as Minister of Public Health (Rahimi1991:17). This period coincides with a surge in popularity of leftist ideas and emergence of leftist press and politics. Understandably.

After the establishment of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) on 1 January 1965, the Women’s Democratic Organization of Afghanistan (WDOA) was established on May 29, 1965. The WDOA was a nemesis of state-sponsored Women’s Welfare Association (Dupree 1981:7). By late 1980s, the WDOA claimed 100,470 members (Rahimi1991:18). In 1977, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was formed. This is the only women body that has survived turmoil of the last three decades. However, what is significant about these gains is their organic character.

The PDPA regime (1978-92) introduced women friendly reforms. That these were top-down reforms like other PDPA-reforms, their efficacy remains debatable. However, women question was accommodated by the PDPA regime at every level also for propagandistic reasons.

Soon after the Soviet withdrawal in February in 1989, the nation experienced a devastating civil war. In 1992, the Mujahideen, a coalition of seven parties, came to power (Marsden 1998:42). Its president, Burhannudin Rabbani, suspended the constitution and issued religious decrees that prevented women from holding government jobs or jobs in broadcasting, and required them to wear a veil (Goodwin and Neuwirth 2001: A19).Women’s rights were severely curtailed. Even before coming to power, these Mujahideen had made their intentions clear: in 1990, women were forbidden from attending school at refugee camps under their control in Pakistan. To underscore the point, a Peshawar girls’ school was sprayed with bullets (Ibid). What rights remained would be summarily denied when the Taliban came to power in 1996. The US, having funded and armed the Mujahideen, stayed silent.

The Taliban dark-ages
In 1996, the Taliban on coming to power implemented four central policies regarding women. First, women were forbidden to hold jobs. Second, they could not attend schools until the Taliban had come up with a curriculum appropriate for their primary role of bringing up the next generation of Muslims [they never managed]. Third, women were forced to wear burqas. Finally, women were denied freedom of movement. They could only leave their homes if escorted by male relatives and had to avoid contact with male strangers (Marsden, 1998:88–9). If these rules were transgressed, the religious police would mete out punishments like public beatings.

Despite these open violations of women’s rights, the US supported the Taliban, support that grew out of US efforts to secure a contract for an oil pipeline through Afghanistan that would enable a US-based oil corporation, Unocal, to gain access to Caspian Sea oil (Rashid 2000: 171–82). [Iran was also on Washington’s mind. Patronised by Saudis, Taliban regime was ideologically anti-Iran.]

One US diplomat expressed the logic of this silence, and the underlying contempt for women’s rights, when he observed: ‘Taliban will develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that’ (qtd in Rashid 2000:179). This is the history and material context completely elided by media accounts of Afghan women.

To reduce the potential of global security threats and women liberation! These were the official justifications to invade Afghanistan.

While according to women’s studies professor Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, “Afghanistan may be the only country in the world where during the last century kings and politicians have been made and undone by struggles relating to women’s status” (2003:1), Stabile and Kumar (2005) argue that the central framework employed to justify the US war was thoroughly Orientalist; it constructed the West as the beacon of civilization with an obligation to tame the Islamic world and liberate its women.

With the current Afghan humanitarian and human rights crisis hidden from sight (for the most part), the international community conveniently assumes that women situation in Afghanistan has improved. However, in spite of some gains in health care and access to education (Waldman et al. 2006; Afghanistan Human Development Report 2007), and the media boom, Afghans still remain among the poorest people in the world. Instability is rising as insurgency grows. To make matters worse, a report by The Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR), reported by Waldman (2008), suggests that the international aid effort in Afghanistan is in large part “wasteful” and “ineffective”, with as much as 40% of funds spent back to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries.

As stated above, while some things have changed since the collapse of the Taliban for women, much remains the same. For instance, women may now venture out in certain regions without a male escort, but they still do not enjoy basic human rights. And while 1.5 million Afghan children now attend schools – one third of them girls – more than 3 million children do not go to schools because no infrastructure exists. Reports reveal that women are still punished according to Islamic laws. Kabul jail had no women prisoners shortly after the fall of the Taliban, but as of April 2002 women were being incarcerated for crimes such as leaving their husbands or having relationships with members of the opposite sex (Ahmed-Ullah 2002) [see: http://links.org.au/node/2876%5D.

As Haideh Moghaissi (1999:83) argues, under the present circumstances, the majority of women in the Middle East and North Africa have not fully benefited from the forces of modernism, despite the fact that their lives have been touched by modernisation processes, one way or another. However, modernisation projects in the Middle East over the last hundred years have excluded genuinely transformative changes in gender relations. The patriarchal structures, far from having been truly modernised, have only been reshaped and preserved in ‘modernised’ forms. Women liberation under US occupation is not any different. Even dangerously, these changes — shaped only to sell the occupation to Euro-US public—are temporary.

Afghanistan Human Development Report (2007) Bridging Modernity and Tradition:
Rule of Law and the Search for Justice. Retrieved July 3, 2008: http://www.socialsciences.uottawa.ca/afghanistan2007/eng/resources.asp.

Ahmed-Ghosh, H. (2003) A History of Women in Afghanistan: Lessons Learnt from the
Future: Women in Afghanistan. Journal of International Women’s Studies. 4 (3), 1-14.

Ahmed-Ullah, N.S. (2002) ‘Afghan Laws Still Repress Women’. Chicago-Tribune
28 April, URL (consulted 15 August 2003): http://rawa.fancymarketing.net/jail.htm.

Christensen, A. (1995) Aiding Afghanistan: The Background and Prospects for
Reconstruction in a Fragmented Society. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian
Studies, NIAS reports no.26.

Dupree, N (1981) Revolution Rlietoric: Afghan Women. No. 3. New York: The Asian Society.

Dupree, L. & Albert, L (1974) Afghanistan in the 1970s. New York: Praeger Publisher

Dupree, L. (1973) Afghanistan. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Goodwin, J. and J. Neuwirth (2001) ‘The Rifle and the Veil’, New York Times19 October: A19.

Marsden, P. (1998) The Taliban: War, Religion and the New Order in Afghanistan. New York: Zed Books.

Moghaissi, M (1999) Feminism and Islamic Fundamentalism: The limits of postmodern analysis. Oxford University Press.

Rahimi, W.M (1991) Status of Women: AFGHANISTAN Social and Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific RUSHSAP Series on Monographs and Occasional Papers. General Editor : Yogesh Atal.

Rashid, A. (2000) Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Smeal, E. (2001) ‘Congressional Testimony of E. Smeal on the Plight of Afghan Women’, Feminist Majority Foundation, Press Release, 10 October, URL (consulted 2 June 2003): http://www.feminist.org/news/pressstory.asp?id=5861

Stabile, C.A and Kumar (2005) Unveiling Imperialism: media, gender and the war on Afghanistan. Media, Culture and Society Vol. 27(5): 765-782.

Waldman, R, Strong, L. & Wali, A. (2006) Afghanistan’s Health System Since 2001:
Condition Improved, Prognosis Cautiously Optimistic. Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit. Retrieved January 29, 2007, from: http://www.areu.org.af/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=34

Waldman, M (2008) Falling Short: Aid Effectiveness in Afghanistan. ACBAR
Advocacy Series. Retrieved May 23, 2008 from: http://www.acbar.org/display.php?page_id=74

Woodsmall, R . F (1960) Women and the Near East. Washington D C: The Middle East Institute.

Sahar Saba is an Afghan women rights’ activist. For many years, she was spokesperson of Revolutionary Afghan Women Association (RAWA). Also, she has worked with RAWA for many years in refugee camps in Pakistan and in Afghanistan in different capacities. She has traveled to many countries in the past several years to speak on behalf of Afghan women. She was born in Kabul. Her family migrated to Pakistan where Sahar Saba became active with RAWA. She has a law degree from London University and writes on issues facing Afghan women.

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‘Yes, Virginia, We Can Do Something About the Drone Strikes’ by Robert Naiman

This article represents a much needed initiative to, hopefully, stop US drone strikes. If you are an ‘American’ (!), please do consider being one of the ‘ten thousand Americans (who) would write to their Members of Congress, urging them to sign the Kucinich-Conyers letter’. The letter asks for accountability and transparency in US drone strike policies/practices. View and copy it here: letter

From http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

There’s a conventional wisdom in Washington that there’s nothing we can do politically to stop the U.S. government from killing innocent civilians with drone strikes.

But it ain’t necessarily so.

Speaking only for myself, I’m willing to stipulate that killing “high value terrorists” who are known to be actively preparing to kill Americans is wildly popular, regardless of whether it is constitutional and legal.

Here’s what’s not wildly popular: killing innocent civilians.

This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. This is an American issue. Go to the reddest of Red America. Stand outside a megachurch or military base in the Deep South. Find me 12 Christian Republicans who are willing to sign their names that they want the U.S. government to kill innocent civilians. I bet you can’t do it. Killing innocent civilians is un-American.

Consider: after what widely reported news event did even Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum say maybe we ought to get our troops out of Afghanistan? After it was reported that a U.S. soldier massacred Afghan civilians.

The historian Howard Zinn suggested that it’s a backhanded compliment to the American people that our government lies to us about what it’s doing in other people’s countries. Because it suggests that if the American people knew, they would never stand for it.

Thanks to a New York Times report this week, we now know. In an echo of the Colombian military’s “false positives” scandal, our government is killing people with drone strikes and then decreeing that “military age men” killed by U.S. drone strikes are automatically “combatants.” Born a chicken, raised a chicken, now you’re a fish.

Some senior U.S. officials are quite unhappy about this, the Times reports.

The C.I.A. accounting has so troubled some administration officials outside the agency that they have brought their concerns to the White House. One called it “guilt by association” that has led to “deceptive” estimates of civilian casualties.”It bothers me when they say there were seven guys, so they must all be militants,” the official said. “They count the corpses and they’re not really sure who they are.”

So what is producing this conventional wisdom that there’s nothing we can do?

A key determinant is what Members of Congress are willing to say and do. If you can’t get 12 Members of Congress to say “boo” about something, then the conventional wisdom says it’s not an issue.

Well, that just changed. Thirteen Members of Congress are willing to say “boo.” Here they are: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Rush Holt, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maurice Hinchey, Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, and Lynn Woolsey.

These 13 Members of Congress — who, one hopes, will soon be joined by others — have signed a letter to the administration demanding that the administration come clean with Congress and the American people about its drone strike policy, particularly concerning civilian casualties and so-called “signature strikes” that target unknown people.

This Congressional letter is being supported by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, Amnesty International, and other groups who don’t want the U.S. government to kill innocent civilians.

If ten thousand Americans would write to their Members of Congress, urging them to sign the Kucinich-Conyers letter, we could get 40 Members of Congress to sign it. If we could get 40 Members of Congress to sign it, the beltway media would report that Members of Congress are complaining about civilian deaths from drone strikes. If we could get the beltway media to report that Members of Congress are complaining about civilian deaths from drone strikes, the conventional wisdom that there’s nothing we can do politically about civilian deaths from drone strikes would be dead.

Sometimes mate in five starts with a pawn move.

As Stephen Colbert put it,

“The administration has developed a brilliant system of ensuring that those building engulfing explosions don’t kill non-combatants: they just count all military age males in a strike zone as combatants…This isn’t just the president executing innocent people around the world by fiat, there is an appeals process. The men are considered terrorists unless ‘there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent,’ in which case, I assume, there is a legal process that un-kills them.”

Colbert Nation, to your laptops.


Posted at Huffington Post: 06/01/2012 2:57 pm


War criminal George Bush is not welcome in Surrey BC – Rally Oct 20/11

Thursday, October 20
11:00 am
Parking lot outside the Bay at Guildford Mall
SW corner of 152 St. & 104 Ave.

Former US presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are invited speakers at the Surrey Regional Economic Development Forum, Oct. 20 at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. In protest, the StopWar Coalition, Fraser Valley Peace Council and other groups have sent this letter to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts:

‘George W. Bush is a war criminal, guilty of authorizing torture and launching an illegal war on Iraq based on lies. Bush should not be allowed a safe haven in Surrey or anywhere else in Canada. The federal government has shamefully failed in its duty to deny entry or to arrest Bush and other officials of his administration reasonably suspected of war crimes. We ask you to do the right thing and cancel Bush’s appearance.’

Amnesty International is also calling on the federal government to detain and investigate George W. Bush for war crimes. In fact, the organization says the government has ‘an obligation’ to do it.

Thursday, October 20
11:00 am
Parking lot outside the Bay at Guildford Mall
SW corner of 152 St. & 104 Ave.

For more info on this rally:

For background on the legal campaign to prosecute G.W. Bush:
Centre for Constitutional Rights at www.ccrjustice.org

Please be there to give him the welcome he deserves..

Ten Years of Human Rights Violations: Pakistan 1997- 2008

Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has issued the following URGENT APPEALS for Pakistan during 1997 to July 2008.

Please note that this report brings together instances where the AHRC was moved to issue an Urgent Appeals action, and so, does not present a realistic picture of human rights violations in Pakistan, in that it can tell us about the kind of violations that are occurring but not the extent to which they are rampant in the country.

To get a better idea, please add to this the information provided by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Amnesty International, and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML).

2008 To Date
(From the Nine Urgent Appeals issued in the first half of 2008, Four violations are done by the Police, One by the Army, and Four by influential groups with the support of the Police. Victims/Survivors are poor women, minorities, labourers, peasants, political and social activists.)

A 17-year-old girl was abducted by police officials and kept for almost 16 days in private custody where she was raped and tortured to confess her involvement in the murder of her fiancée. Her elder sister was also brought in police lock up and held, naked for three days naked to pressure the sister to confess to the charges.
PAKISTAN: A girl raped in custody by police officers and her sister kept nude in lock up

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that a high ranking police official, Senior Superintendent (SSP) Shafiq Gujjar, of the Punjab police, who was appointed by the newly elected Chief Minister of the Punjab province, Mr. Mian Shahbaz Shareef. Mr. Shafiq, the SSP, has used police officers of four different districts to keep a labourer in illegal detention for the return of some money to which the victim was witness/guarantor. The officers involved continued to deny his arrest even after 15 days following an investigation by a newspaper reporter.
PAKISTAN: Police officials kidnap and arbitrarily detain a labourer for ransom

Two persons have been killed whilst in police custody. One of the deceased was a political activist. In the first statement issued by the police they reported that no weapons were found in the possession of the victim. However, a subsequent statement issued the following day reported that the victims were traveling in a stolen car and that a pistol and ammunition had been recovered.
PAKISTAN: Two persons were killed in police encounter

A peasant was murdered, one was abducted and several more were injured in an attack by a powerful group. After the passing of almost three months no one has yet been arrested. A session court has rejected the application for anticipatory bail before the arrest of the accused persons but even then the police have not bothered to arrest anyone. The peasants have protested by blocking the roads and demanding that the police take action. However, the leader of the attackers is trying to turn the incident into a Muslim and Christian clash. Meanwhile, the victims and their families are suffering continuous harassment.
PAKISTAN: Perpetrators of murder enjoy impunity

A young couple has been threatened with death because they married without the permission of their parents. Powerful persons of the tribe in question, with the support of police authorities have killed a prominent journalist and injured the younger brother of the bride groom who were hiding the couple. The police have not arrested any of the killers, even after three months. The alleged murderers, who were mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR), are roaming around freely. The couple is hiding in different places but is in serious danger as the tribal people are following them.
PAKISTAN: Threat of death of a young couple under the name of honour killing

Officers of a military residential area, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), have stopped the local inhabitants from fishing in the areas close to the DHA, burned the boats, fishing nets, and their cycles, the only source of communication for fishermen, and barred them from using their ancestral jetty, in the name of beautification of the military residential area. The Sindh provincial government remains silent spectators.
PAKISTAN: Military officers dislocate centuries-old fishing communities

Two peace activists who were a holding demonstration on May 28, 2008, against the tenth anniversary of Pakistan’s nuclear experimental detonations were arrested and one of them remains missing.
PAKISTAN: Anti nuclear demonstrators arrested, one activist remains missing

Mr. Mohammad Khan Lund, a human rights activist is presently in Deeplo Jail after being implicated in 57 cases allegedly by his political rival Dr. Arbab Rahim. The police at his instigation tortured Mr. Lund on several occasions at Deeplo police station and have also harassed his four sons and other family members.
PAKISTAN: A man falsely implicated in 57 First Information Reports (FIRs) and his family members are also facing 33 FIRs

the death sentence of a man from minority community, who is due to be executed on 12 March 2008. He was charged with murder however, he was allegedly severely tortured after the illegal arrest. It is also alleged that he was not provided any legal representative during the military trial. He was not allowed to communicate with his parent during his two years of military custody and meet his parents only after the military court convicted him.
PAKISTAN: Death by hanging of a man set on March 12 after confessing due to torture by military

The physical condition and health of a prominent lawyer, Mr. Munir A. Malik, former president of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Bar Association, whom we reported to have traces of blood in his urine due to severe torture while in custody, continues to deteriorate. Mr. Malik told his physicians after regaining consciousness that his health worsened after he was forced to drink the juices and food rations given to him whom he believed could have contained poison. No action has been taken against those involved in arresting, detaining and torturing him. Though the government claimed they had already released him, the security forces deployed at the hospital admitted that this is not the case.
PAKISTAN: Prominent lawyer tortured, poisoned in detention; two others held incommunicado

The police in Pakistan have been involved in beating, torturing and threatening a French researcher on 20 September 2007 and have not been charged. While no action has been taken against them, the police officials threaten local journalists and a local English language teacher, not to cover the story.
PAKISTAN: Higher police officers have impunity in the torture case of a French researcher

Several judges including the Chief Justice, of the Sindh High Court were threatened by a ruling political party in General Musharraf’s government on accepting the bail applications of several arrested lawyers on 29 September 2007. There were a variety of threats but the Chief Minister of the province condoned the actions of the ruling party, arguing that the writing against the Chief Justice is the “peoples’ voice”. It is alleged that the workers and leadership of the ruling party are involved in the mayhem of May 12, 2007, the killings of two lawyers in recent days and threats to office bearers of different Bar Associations, including attacks on the cars of sitting judges.
PAKISTAN: Chief Justice of a provincial High Court was threatened by a ruling party

One person was shot dead and more than 10 were injured by thugs, with the help of the police, during an illegal demolition on 3 October 2007. However the case has not been filed nor has an investigation been initiated. This is allegedly due to interference from the ruling party, which originally sent the thugs to demolish the houses in the village.
PAKISTAN: One person shot dead and several injured by firing during illegal demolition

About the torture and inhuman treatment of eight persons by the police in Khaipure Mirs District, Sindh. The police tied the detainees with ropes and chains around their necks. The detainees were also forced to bark like dogs and bite each other like wild bears; if they refused, they would be beaten.
PAKISTAN: Torture and inhuman treatments to eight detainees falsely charged by the police

Gross negligence of the part of the High Court of Sindh on persons who are believed to be illegally detained in the military torture cells in Rawal Pindi. Mr. Salim Baloch, the vice president of the Jamhoori Watan Party who was released on 14 December 2006 after his 9 month illegal detention by the military, gave his testimony before the High Court and also gave names of persons who are still detained in the military torture camp in Rawal Pindi where he was detained. However, the High Court simply disposed off his habeas corpus case saying that the case is no longer valid due to his release. The Court neither ordered an inquiry about his torture and illegal detention by the army nor took subsequent action to locate the disappeared persons, who are still detained in the military torture cells in Rawal Pindi.
PAKISTAN: Gross negligence of the High Court of Sindh on disappeared persons who are allegedly detained in the military torture cells

Two more alleged disappearance cases from Sindh province in Pakistan which separately took place in July and August 2006. To date the whereabouts of the victims remain unknown. The victims have gone missing after allegedly being taken by police and army personnel. In one case, the victim was allegedly abducted by the police. In the second case, the victim was arrested by the plain clothed security personnel only because his name was similar with that of a wanted terrorist. In both cases, the police denied of arresting the men and had refused to register the complaints lodged by their families until the courts issued an order. Both victims do not have any political affiliations.
PAKISTAN: Two more persons are missing after being allegedly arrested by the security forces

Regarding a 23 year-old man named Mustafa Rehman who had his college application rejected based on his disability by the King Edward Medical College in Lahore, Punjab province, Pakistan. Even though he is qualified for admission, he has allegedly been denied entry by the university admission committee. The university’s actions are illegal under Pakistani law which clearly states that people who are disabled have a right to pursue higher education as long as the student does not suffer from “mental retardation”.
PAKISTAN: Disabled student has been allegedly denied admission to a medical college based on his condition

The government of the North Western Frontier Province has banned the booklet on Kashmir titled “Kashmir Ki Pukar” (loud voice of Kashmir) on October 21 by issuing an official notification. The writer was informed through telephone calls that if he enters the province he will face dire consequences, including loss of his life. The writer is receiving threatening calls at his home and to his mobile phone insisting that he denounce the book and make an apology in public, otherwise his family will not be safe. The writer says that most of the calls are from the officials of Pakistan secret services (ISI). When the writer made a phone call to the number from which he was receiving the threats no one answers the call. Even if it was answered by chance, there is just an announcement telling that this number is not in use. The police have not yet registered the author’s complaint of being threaten yet.
PAKISTAN: A book on Kashmir was banned and writer is threatened with death by Islamic fundamentalist government of a province

Regarding the disappearance of two political party leaders after being arbitrarily arrested by the police during the peaceful protest meeting in Karachi city, Sindh province, Pakistan on 3 December 2006. The victims were allegedly shifted to an army torture camp and their whereabouts are unknown since then.
PAKISTAN: Two political party leaders are missing after their alleged arrest by the police and army intelligence personnel

Pakistani government has arrested more than 400 political and human rights activists within 72 hours from the night of 27 November 2006 to stop the planned protest during President Musharraff’s two day visit to Balochistan province from 30 November 2006. We were also informed that the government has imposed the maintenance of Public Order Ordinance throughout the province and also arrested the former chief minister of Balochistan. This is clear violation of freedom of assembly and expression of people in Balochistan and we call for your urgent intervention into this matter.
PAKISTAN: More than 400 activists arrested within 72 hours prior to President’s visit to Balochistan

An alleged abduction and subsequent torture of a senior journalist of the BBC by the military personnel from Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Pakistan on 20 November 2006. He was reportedly tortured for about 30 hours at an unknown place and then thrown in a far flung jungle. In a separate incident, the transmissions of Sindh Television network based in Bangkok, Thailand have been banned according to verbal instruction of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) since 8 November 2006. As far as we have confirmed, no valid written notice has been issued by the PEMRA regarding this matter. The alleged reason is that this Sindh Television was producing a weekly satirical program about the performance of the Pakistan government and government ministers including the president and prime minister.
PAKISTAN: An alleged abduction and torture of a journalist by military personnel and the banning of a Sindh television channel by the government

Regarding the illegal arrest and subsequent brutal torture of Mr. Hayat Khan Marri, a mason by profession and resident of B-437 Sector 7 Bilal Colony in Northern Karachi, by officers of the Liaquatabad Police Station in Karachi city, Sindh province, Pakistan on 30 September 2006.
PAKISTAN: Man implicated with false charges, and brutally tortured by police

Save the life of Mr. Mirza Tahir Hussain (aged 38), who is facing imminent execution scheduled for early November after Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims. He, who was 18 years old at that time, had been charged with murder in 1988, but was acquitted of all charges against him by the Lahore High Court in 1996. However, the Federal Shariat Court suddenly claimed its jurisdiction over the case under Islamic law, overturned high court judgement and sentenced him to death in 1998. The Supreme Court upheld the judgement of the Shariat Court in 2003 and dismissed Mr. Hussain’s appeal in 2004. Only an act of clemency by the President can save Mr. Mirza Tahir Hussain’s life.
PAKISTAN: A man deprived of a fair trial faces imminent execution

About the severe torture of two men by the Saddar police in Faisalabad district, Punjab province, Pakistan on 10 September 2006. The victims have been reportedly charged with a false blasphemy case after the police failed to present concrete evidence of an alleged theft case against them. In Pakistan, charging a person with the blasphemy laws is the easiest way to book any minority person. We also received information that the families of the victims fled their homes due to the brutal attack by local Muslims and that the lives of the victims are in danger due to constant threats by the other inmates in the jail. We call for your immediate intervention into this case to ensure the safety of the victims.
PAKISTAN: Torture of two men after being falsely charged under blasphemy law

The Ministry of Defence Production has illegally banned the trade unions of an industrial corporation named Karahi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) in Karachi city, Sindh province, Pakistan on 26 August 2006. The cancellation order of the registration of the concerned trade unions was imposed without lawful procedures. This action directly affects about 3,000 workers.
PAKISTAN: Illegal ban of trade unions by the government

Regarding a discriminatory close down of the The Mast FM 103 radio station at Balakot, North West Frontier Province by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on 23 August 2006. It is believed that the PEMRA’s action is due to the Mast FM 103’s criticism on the alleged misuse of funds and corruption in the rehabilitation programmes carried out by the government agencies in the earthquake affected area.
PAKISTAN: A radio station was discriminatorily closed down by the government

Regarding the destruction of Christian churches and schools by people enraged at the alleged blasphemy of the Holy Quran. According to the information we have received, on 12 November 2005, a mob attacked three Churches, a Sister’s Convent, a Christian school building and a Pastor’s house. The mob vandalised and destroyed properties in Sangla Hills for over an hour. Christian families living in the Sangla Hills were forced to leave their homes the night before due to the threats and intimidation from locals living in the area.
PAKISTAN: Desecration and destruction of churches and Christian property after blasphemy allegations at Sangla Hills, Pakistan

Regarding an extrajudicial killing of a young man by the Khosar police. According to the information we have received, Mr. Amjad Masih (25), who was accused of the theft, was tortured to death by the Khosar police in front of his sister on around 22 October 2005. Four responsible officers were arrested with murder charges on October 23 after the outraged local villagers of the France Colony shouted for justice outside the Khosar Police Station. This is ¤± good development that the perpetrators were arrested, however the AHRC worries that they will escape from punishment in the end as happened in many previous cases in Pakistan.
PAKISTAN: A young man beaten to death by the Khosar police in Islamabad

Regarding the murder of a 16-year-old girl following a Jirga calling for her death for having dishonoured her tribe. Ms. Bashi of the Luhar tribe left her parents home to marry Mr. Munaware of the Otho tribe. When her father and several relatives approached the elder of their tribe, Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar, he called upon a Jirga of the eminent persons of his tribe. The Jirga at first found that the girl must be returned to her tribe. In a second hearing it decided that the girl must be killed. Accordingly, the girl’s father and six other relatives took the girl to a nearby canal where they suffocated her and buried her body.
PAKISTAN: Jirga orders the murder of a 16-year-old girl

Yet another honour killing case in Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan. According to this information, 22-year-old, Ms. Soneet was killed by her husband, Mohammad Sidique on 17 September 2005. It was reported that Mohammed Sidique killed his wife on suspicion of her having had extra-marital relations with her relative, Mr. Noor Mohammad. A First Investigation Report (FIR) No. 162/05 under Sections 302, 201 Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) has been registered regarding this case at the New Faujdari police station, whose officials maintain that an investigation is underway, but has not been completed as yet. However, our sources say that the police are in fact avoiding the case and have said that the victim’s death is a “private matter”. The police are apparently also of the view that both sides will reconcile their differences once in court.
PAKISTAN: A husband suffocated and drowned his wife on the pretext of an honour killing

Regarding approximately 50 civil activists who were charged with sedition against the State by the police after they held a protest at the Lakhi Gate Tower Ghowk on 17 October 2004. The protesters gathered at the Lakhi Gate Tower Ghowk to express their concern over growing insecurity of life and property due to deteriorating law and order in Shikarpur district.
PAKISTAN: A group of human rights defenders charged with sedition in Shikarpur

Another honor killing case from Sindh Province, Pakistan. According to the information received, a 16-year-old girl, Gulzar, and her 19-year-old cousin, Ghulam Mustafa, were killed by Gulzar’s brother, Abdul Majeed, on 21 April 2004 on the pretext of honor killing. Even though he has filed the complaint against the perpetrator, Ghulam Mustafa’s father has shown his distrust in the Pakistani legal system and wants to settle this matter through a tribal court jirga, which was banned by the Sindh High Court decision of last April. In Pakistan, the victims’ families prefer the jirga system rather than the government’s judicial system to deal with their matters, because it has failed to provide speedy justice to the victims.
PAKISTAN: A dual murder of 16-year-old girl and a 19-year-old boy on the pretext of honor killing

A 20-year-old woman named Saran has been killed by her husband Nawab in the pretext of honor killing on 8 September 2004. The perpetrator has not been arrested yet. This is already the twelfth honor killing case AHRC has reported from Sindh Province since February.
PAKISTAN: A young woman killed by her husband with false allegation

Another honor killings case from Sindh Province, Pakistan. According to the information received, Ms. Mehan (22) was shot dead by her nephew Altaf (25) at her house in in Mirzapur village, Shikarpur district, Sindh province early in the morning of 7 July 2004. After killing his aunt, Altaf claimed that he killed her because she had illicit sexual relations with a man named Mr. Dilshad. It is reported that Mr. Dilshad left the village because he feared being killed by Altaf.
PAKISTAN: A woman killed by her nephew on the pretext of honor killing

A cleric, Qari Mohammad Noor, arrested last week for suspected al-Qaeda links has died in custody in controversial circumstances. While the post-mortem reports have not been disclosed to the public, human rights groups claim that there were marks of torture on Noor’s body.
PAKISTAN: A cleric dies in custody after being detained for suspected al-Qaeda links

Another case of honor killing from Shikarpur district, Sindh province, Pakistan. According to the information received, on 14 July 2004, Ms. Sabhai (40) was shot dead by her younger brother Aashiq Ali (32) alias Babu in front of her son at the bus stop near Bhaya canal, Karan village, Shiarpur district. According to the victim’s son, his uncle blamed his mother for having illicit relations with a man named Mumtaz who is their distant relative. However, he maintained that his mother was innocent and his uncle imposed the fake allegation on her. It was also reported that Aashiq Ali was allegedly spurred by his friends to kill his sister because she was a shame to his family.
PAKISTAN: A brother killed his sister on the pretext of honor killing

Another “honor killing” case reported from Shikarpur district, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Even though AHRC has issued several honor killing cases, the state government of Sindh province as well as the government of Pakistan have not taken any serious action to abolish this brutal practice.
PAKISTAN: Honor killing takes lives of 19-year-old girl and 30-year-old man

Regarding the assault and abduction of Pastor Wilson Fazal, on 16 May 2004 in Quetta, Pakistan. Prior to this incident, three churches in Quetta had reportedly received letters instructing them to expel all Muslims from their institutions and to abandon their preaching and other activities. This case reflects the ongoing abuse of minorities and religious intolerance in Pakistan. Your urgent action is required to pressure the Government of Pakistan to take effective steps in protecting the rights of all minorities and ensuring that discriminatory legislation is repealed.
PAKISTAN: Christian pastor abducted and assaulted in Quetta

Zafar Iqbal, who had been in police custody in connection with a house robbery attempt, has allegedly been tortured to death by the police officers from the Westridge Police Station in Rawalpindi Division. The victim¡¦s body was not yet found. Your urgent action is required to correct this matter.
PAKISTAN: A man was disappeared after being severely tortured at the Westridge Police Station

The police illegally arrested and severely tortured 10-year-old Tasawar Abbas, in order to know the whereabouts of his elder brother even though he did not commit any crime. His father, who was accused of illegally cutting grass from the landlord’s field, was also tortured at the police station. It is a brutal human rights violation and the AHRC requests your action to correct this matter immediately.
PAKISTAN: A 10-year-old boy and his father severely tortured by police officers

The imminent execution of a juvenile offender, Mohammad Amin, aged 16. Your urgent action is required to pressure the Pakistan government to commute the death sentence of Mohammad Amin.
PAKISTAN: Imminent execution of a juvenile offender

An 18-year-old young boy Sunil Samuel was sexually assaulted by inmates at Camp Jail Lahore. After lodging a complaint [to prison authorities], he was tortured to death by two prison officials on 19 August 2003. Your urgent action is requested to pressure the Pakistani government to conduct the impartial and immediate investigation into Sunil Samuel’s case and arrest the responsible persons to justice.
PAKISTAN: Christian youth, Sunil Samuel, 18, sexually assaulted and tortured to death

On September 30, 2002, police clashed with protestors peacefully demonstrating against the Mangla Dam extension in Mirpur, a city in the Pakistani controlled area of Kashmir. The police attacked the demonstrators with batons and tear gas, arresting 13 people and injuring others. Mr. Najeeb Asfar, a member of the Association of British Kashmiris, reported that following the incident, most of Mirpur City was put under curfew.
KASHMIR: Pakistani police assault peaceful demonstrators

The Joint Action Committee for Peace (JAC) strongly condemns the gruesome killing of seven staff members of Idara-e-Amn-o-Insaf and demands security to those who were injured in the gory incident that took place in the office of the organization. They are the eyewitnesses of the incident and their life is at great risk. We urge the government to fulfill its primary responsibility of providing security to its citizens.
PAKISTAN: Seven Christian human rights and peace activists were killed by militant group

An additional sessions judge in Lahore imposed the death penalty and a fine of 500,000 rupees (US,335) on Mr. Anwar Kenneth, a former officer in the government’s Fisheries Dept., in a blasphemy case that was registered with the Gawalmandi police in Pakistan.
PAKISTAN: Another person sentenced to death under blasphemy law

There have been at least 150 people killed, 400 injured and 100,000 people have left their homes and migrated in Kashmir since mid-May 2002. Heavy weapons are killing daily innocent civilians and destroying homes and other public and private property, and civilians are being forced to flee on both sides of the LOC. After the statement of Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bahari Vajpayee that India is going to start a decisive war against Pakistan, panic has spread among the public, particularly in Kashmir.
KASHMIR (INDIA/PAKISTAN): Clouds of war and killing of innocent civilians across the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir

This is an update on the attack at the office of IDAR-O-INSAF (Institute for Justice and Peace) on 25 September 2002, which left seven activists dead and one seriously injured. The sole witness of the incident, Mr. Robin Peeran Ditta (32) was kidnapped by the police and later released. Actually, Mr. Ditta had been illegally held in custody and considered a suspect because only his life was spared. Therefore, his family and lawyers had been feared for his safety and believed that he was being tortured.
UPDATE (PAKISTAN): Sole witness of attack kidnapped, lawyers and activists beaten by the police

We have discovered with dismay that despite a previous Supreme Court stay of execution on the young Pakistani mother Robina Khan (also known as Rubina Ansari), the sentence may still go ahead. President Musharraf has apparently stated that the sentence could be commuted on the proviso that the family of Ms. Hajjan Aziz Begun, aged 70, (who was allegedly murdered by Ms. Rubina in the case) accepted the reduction in sentence.
PAKISTAN: Rubina’s life still in danger

The killing of Ayub Masih by the military government of Pakistan under the infamous Blasphemy Law 295-C. Under this law, the only evidence needed is one ‘reliable’ man’s word that the accused made derogatory remarks against Prophet Muhammad. In this case the one ‘reliable’ male witness has benefited enormously – financially and socially – from the conviction. This should be reason enough to throw the case out.
PAKISTAN: Death Sentence for Alleged Blasphemy

The military government of Pakistan plans to carry out the death sentence on Ms. Robina Khan, aged 22, on the 17th July. She will be killed by hanging, unless the President chooses to commute her sentence. She is being held at the Multan Women’s Jail [First Incident Report no. 310, Factory area, Sargodha police station].
PAKSITAN: Young mother sentenced to death

We have received reliable information from religious group in Pakistan regarding Mr. Parvez Masih, who has been accused of blasphemy and now faced with grave danger. Blasphemy in Pakistan is an ill-defined offense that carries the mandatory death sentence.
PAKISTAN: Death threats to minorities by the fundamentalist

Over the last week, more than 2000 activists and politicians have been arrested by Pakistan’s military regime. On March 23rd, Pakistan National day, the 16-party Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) attempted to hold protest to call for an immediate end to military rule. As of result, a further 100 political leaders, including Javed Hashmi (a senior figure in the Pakistan Muslim League) were arrested by police.
PAKISTAN – Denial of Right to Freedom of Assembly, Political Arrests

Fr. Arnold Heredia (60), former Executive Secretary of the Committee for Justice & Peace Karachi, was among 17 protestors arrested and detained in Karachi at 4.00 p.m. on 10 January, 2001. As of the time of writing, an application for their release on bail has not been accepted. Two other Christian laymen, Aslam Martin and Riaz Nawab, are among the detainees.
PAKISTAN: A human rights activist Fr. Arnold Heredia was detained

Regarding Dr. Younus Shaikh, who has been arrested for ‘Blasphemy’ in Pakistan. Blasphemy is an ill-defined offense which carries the mandatory death sentence in Pakistan. As such, Dr. Shaikh’s life is in grave danger. Below is all of the information about Dr. Shaikh’s case from IHEU, followed by suggested actions.
PAKISATAN: Dr. Shaikh may face Death Sentence for Blasphemy

The operation began in February/March 1999 when a katchi abadi of over 600 households was demolished. This abadi was named Sumbul Kuruk and stood near Rawal Dam. In this abadi resided “mutasreen” who had never been properly compensated by the CDA after they had acquired the land in teh 1960s. There were also later migrants who were illegal settlers but had lived there for up to 35 years with the implicit consent of the CDA. These people are now spread out all over the city, most of them renting rooms on a temporary basis.
PAKISTAN: Bulldozers set to move in on katchi abadi


A joint delegation of Christian and Muslim leaders met with Raja Zafarul Haq, Federal Minister for Religious and Minorities Affairs, on May 19,1998 in Islamabad and expressed their concern over the misuse of blasphemy laws. They also shared their grievances about those falsely accused under these laws. During the meeting the Christian leaders called for the repeal of the laws.
Pakistan: Situation After the Death of Bishop John Joseph

The funeral service of Bishop John Joseph, who committed suicide as a protest against the blasphemy laws in Pakistan on 6 May 1998 , was held in his native village Khushpur, District Faisalabad, Friday 8th May.. Though the government of Pakistan tried to minimize the effect of the Bishop’s death by controlling the news, thousands of people, Christians (Catholics and Protestants) and Muslims attended the funeral service. Other mourners included diplomats, political figures and well known human rights activists Asma Jehangir, I.A.Rehman, and Hina Jillani. People came from various parts of the country to pay homage to their beloved leader.
Pakistan: Message by NCJPP on Bishop’s Death and Funeral

Bishop John Joseph fired a bullet into his head on 6 May 1998 in a court-house where a Catholic was sentenced to death on 27 April under the blasphemy law of Pakistan. The blasphemy law in Pakistan has been condemned throughout the world for many years, but there had been no change in the provisions of the criminal law, which allow death sentence for alleged acts of blasphemy. Under the blasphemy law, a person is convicted on the same day on which he is accused of the offence. At the trials under these laws no defenders are allowed to represent the accused, and the courts themselves have to reckon with the intense pressure of fundamentalists. In many instances, this law is abused for private purposes such as land disputes or business rivalries.
Pakistan: Eminent Catholic Bishop Sacrifices His Life to Protest

16 April 98 the District management supported by police force demolished the All Pakistan Trade Union Office. The office is located at 114 – Gulberg Road, Industrial Area, Kashmir Road, Gulberg, Lahore. No warning was given by the police. Police aggressively attacked the workers and beaten them when they try to stop the demolition.
Pakistan: Five Unionists Arrested and Office Demolished


HRCP Website

More at Uddari

Information on AIDS Walk San Francisco, register now for July 20.

Amnesty International is presenting ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ in Vancouver, a political play banned in Zimbabwe. Written by Raisedon Baya and Leornard Matsashort, it was short-listed for the Freedom of Expression Award by Amnesty International UK. The Vancouver production of ‘Super Patriots and Morons’ is directed by Pasi Gunguwo, and features Jean Pierre, Carlos Joe Costa, Ezeadi, Patrick Onokwulu, Tendai Mpofu, Ruth Akefa Azu among others.

A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammad Hanif
Meet London-based author Mohammad Hanif in Karachi and Lahore this week where he will present readings from his first novel ‘A Case of Exploding Mangoes’, a satire on General Zia ul Haq, the dearly departed conservative ruler of Pakistan.

Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the most prominent leaders of the movement for democratic rights in Pakistan, is coming to Amnesty International USA in Washington DC to speak about the issues emanating from the dismissal last year of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and others. Ahsan has led the recently held Long March (June 9 from Karachi and Quetta to Sukkur-Multan-Lahore-Rawalpindi-Islamabad June 14) to demand the reinstatement of justices. More on the event in Washington DC.

At the same Page, find information about events happening in Vancouver tomorrow to celebrate the ongoing contributions and achievements of the First Nations and Aborignal Canadians at the National Aborignal Day, June 21.

View the new Photo Album page created today to display photos of cultural, art and literary events. It is a matter of pride for Uddari to begin it with the memory of a remarkable youth, Deepak Binning, who continues to create positive impacts on our communities in Vancouver. So, click over, and see some photos of the Ninth Deepak Binning Foundation Walk-a-Thon and West Coast BhangRa Festival held in Richmond earlier this month.