Peaceful Demonstration in front of Election Commission of Pakistan building, Karachi on September 29, 2007 – the day of scrutiny of the nomination papers of General Musharraf
The Council Members of HRCP from Sindh on September 22, 2007, decided to join lawyers in protest rallies to express their resentment on September 29, 2007 – the day of scrutiny of the nomination papers of General Musharraf, and also motivate members of JAC and Peoples’ Movement for Justice, to take part in the demonstration.
The members of JAC and PMJ endorsed the decision of HRCP Sindh Council of taking part in the demonstration on September 29, 2007 at 11:00 am.
On September 29, 2007, at about 11:15 am, Council Members of HRCP Mr. Asad Iqbal Butt, Ms. Uzma Noorani, Mr. Amarnath Motumal and members of HRCP, JAC and PMJ started gathering outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Karachi within the jurisdiction of the Preedy Police Station, carrying banners and placards with anti-Musharraf slogans.
Ten minutes later, the police baton charged the crowd, pushed 11 of them into police mobiles and took them to the Artillery Maidan Police Station. Those arrested included:
1. Mr. Asad Butt, Council Member HRCP
2. Mr. Makhdoom Ayub Qureshi, National Party
3. Mr. Farid Awan, General Secretary, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation (APTUF)
4. Mr. Yawar Ali, Irtiqa Institute,
5. Mr. Ali Hasan, International Socialists Pakistan (ISPak)
6. Dr. Riaz Ahmed, International Socialists Pakistan (ISPak)
7. Mr. Raheel Iqbal of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
8. Mr. Manzoor Razi, Central President, Railway Workers Federation
9. Mr. Mahroof Sultan, Karachi United Welfare Association,
10. Mr. Hasan Alia, Freelance Journalist
11. Mr. Ali Raza, International Socialists Pakistan (ISPak)
Program Coordinator HRCP, Ejaz Ahsan and Mr. Abdul Hai, Field Officer (FO) were not allowed to see the detainees. DSP Mr. Salman then informed the Program Coordinator that neither any FIR had been lodged against the protestors, nor were any charges being brought against them. DSP Mr. Salman also promised that all the detainees would be released soon.
In the meantime, Mr. Jawed Iqbal Burqi, Advocate HRCP approached the District and Session Judge (South) and filed an application of habeas corpus, who asked Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Mr. Ashique Ali Ghori, to conduct raid at the Artillery Maidan Police Station, and set free anyone who was being detained illegally. When Mr. Ashique Ali reached the police station around 3:15 pm he was informed that an FIR # 551/07 against the 11 detainees had already been lodged at the Preedy Police Station, US 147, 148, 247 and 186 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Mr. Ghori maintained the Artillery Maidan Police Station was out of his jurisdiction, and he had been sent there only with orders to get all illegal detainees released and beyond that, he was not authorized to do anything. He did not know why the 11 men were being kept at the Artillery Maidan Police Station, even if an FIR against them had been lodged at the Preedy Police Station. Mr. Ashique Ali was requested that everyone who wanted to meet the detainees must be allowed to do so and Program Coordinator HRCP must be allowed to provide medicines, food, water, fans, blankets and pillows to the detainees. Mr. Ashique Ali issued the orders to SHO accordingly.
Program Coordinator HRCP, Ejaz Ahsan and Field Officer, Mr. Abdul Hai with the help of Mr. Rizwan Edhi and Mr. Faisal Edhi immediately arranged fans, blankets and pillows for the detainees. Among the detainees, there were two cardiac patients, who were also provided necessary medicines forthwith.
Till midnight, hundreds of human right activists, members of civil society organizations, trade union federations and teachers associations visited the detainees
At midnight Program Coordinator HRCP, Ejaz Ahsan, Mr. Rizwan Edhi and Mr. Faisal Edhi had a meeting with SHO and told him that all the detainees were very respectable citizens and well-known members of civil society. Therefore, the detainees must be allowed to spend night outside the lockup – in the bigger and airy courtyard of police station because the lock-up was much suffocated or Ejaz Ahsan, Rizwan Edhi and Faisal Edhi must be allowed to stay in the lockup with their friends to express their solidarity with them. SHO allowed Ejaz Ahsan, Rizwan Edhi and Faisal Edhi to stay in the lockup with their friends for the night.
On September 30, 2007 at about 10:00 am, Mr. Shahadat Awan Advocate and Mr. Arif Hassan Advocate reached police station and informed the detainees that they had a meeting with Investigation Officer (IO), Preedy Police Station and IO had agreed to release all the detainees on bail. Hence, after completing all the legal formalities, the detainees were released on bail at about 03:00 pm.
Muhammad Ejaz Ahsan
Program Coordinator, Sindh
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan