HRCP and members of civil societies observed a Black Day nationwide on the Universal Human Rights Day
Talking to Dawn, veteran journalist and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Director I.A. Rehman said: “To keep people alive, it was absolutely a must for these people to gather and raise voice for their demands.”
* First rally on The Mall after November 3* Protesters demand restoration of deposed judges, human rights and constitution * Traffic remains blocked on The Mall
LAHORE: About 2,000 lawyers, human rights activists, doctors, teachers, students and political workers on Monday took out a joint protest rally from the Lahore High Court to mark the World Human Rights Day as a “black day”. A large number of women were also present on the occasion. Protesters were shouted anti-government slogans and held black flags, banners and placards demanding restoration of deposed judges, the constitution and revival of human rights. After the imposition of the emergency rule (November 3) the rally was the first that was allowed access to The Mall.
IA Rehman, Imtiaz Alam, Asma Jahangir, Hussain Naqi, Joseph Francis, Justice (r) Fakhrunnisa Khokhar, Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal, Shahtaj Qazalbash, LUMS teachers Ravinder Singh and R Normand were present on the occasion.
Among other participants were members of Students Action Committee, Women’s Action Forum, Working Women Organisation, Yellow Cab Federation and activists of the Labour Party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Medical Association, Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-N.
The police locked the participants inside LHC to stop them from taking out the rally. The police, however, opened the gate when the protesters started pushing it. The protesters reached at the GPO Chowk and dispersed peacefully after half-an-hour. During the protest traffic remained blocked on The Mall.
PESHAWAR: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) NWFP observed the Universal Human Rights Day as a ‘black day’ on Monday to protest against the state of emergency, suspension of fundamental rights, sacking of judges and gagging of the media.
The HRCP members including Dr Muhammad Shafiq, Malik Chiragh Hussain, Muhammad Rehan, Hashim Raza and Zahira Khattak said the year 2007 was the worst in the country’s history from the human rights perspective.
“The government has ruthlessly violated the rights of its citizens and the security forces have picked up over 400 people and many are still missing,” said Dr Shafiq while addressing a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club. The HRCP member said the government was using state machinery against all segments of the civil society. The media was gagged and there were curbs on the freedom of expression, he added. Dr Shafiq said thousands of lawyers, journalists, students, teachers and rights activists had been under arrest in addition to 35 judges who had been under house arrest for a longtime. “Even the family of the Supreme Court chief justice has been under arrest, an incident which has no precedent,” he said. Dr Shafiq said the government had failed to control terrorism and disarm the terrorists and “the fact is the government and its agents have patronised them on many occasions.” The HRCP disagreed with President Pervez Musharraf’s claim that the country was moving towards democracy. “It’s a joke with the nation and a blow to the people,” Dr Shafiq added. The human rights activists including former HRCP president Afrasiab Khattak were wearing black armbands.
LAHORE, Dec 10: The expression for an independent judiciary emerged loud and clear when lawyers, students and people from all walks of life rallied on The Mall after converging at the Lahore High Court to mark the World Human Rights Day as a ‘black day’ on Monday. The second most voiced demand at the protest had been for the boycott of elections — a sore point for political parties still lacking consensus on restoration of the pre-emergency judiciary.
After the protesters managed to open up the locked main gate of the high court, they were allowed to march unhindered in a sharp contrast to what happened on November 5 when police had arrested hundreds of lawyers, after beating them up black and blue, for protesting against the imposition of emergency.
Police in anti-riot gear stood by and watched almost a thousand protesters, including lawyers, students, teachers, doctors, representatives of NGOs and workers of PML-N, PPP and Tehrik-e-Insaaf. They were holding placards, banners and posters inscribed with slogans in the favour of the judiciary and detained lawyers. A placard, showing picture of Supreme Court Bar Association’s former president in hospital, said: ‘Tortured and tormented but not silenced’.
Carrying party flags, around 100 PML-N activists, standing in the middle of road, chanted slogans in the favour of restoration of the judiciary while a group of women from All Pakistan Trade Union Federation and Working Women Organisation sought release of detained lawyers and political prisoners. Not far behind, were the students – mostly from Lahore University of Management Sciences – shouting at the top of their voice slogans against army’s role in politics and political parties’ participation in elections. A group of lawyers gathered in front of the LHC gate, reserved for judges, chanted slogans against the chief justice of the Lahore High Court. Close by, the students, chanting slogans in the favour of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, switched to the ones against the LHC chief justice. Stuck to their slogan for boycott of elections, a group of workers of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf carried party flags and banners inscribed with slogans to free the judiciary. The slogan that was virtually chanted incessantly had been the lawyers’ favourite one-liner: ‘Go Musharraf Go’.
LAHORE: Thousands of policemen deployed on The Mall on Monday stopped protesting lawyers, students and human rights activists from coming on the road. The strong police contingents blocked entrance to Aiwan-e-Adl, the Lahore High Court, Anarkali, IG-Office, Postmaster General Chowk, Regal Chowk, the Assembly Hall, the Charing Cross and Queens Road with barricades. Squads consisting of traffic wardens, mobile police and Muhafiz Force and plainclothesmen were deployed to keep the situation under control.
The protestors shouted slogans against the government. The police, however, did not arrest anyone.
LAHORE/PESHAWAR/QUETTA: Thousands of men and women from all walks of life, including lawyers, human rights activists, professors, students and journalists on Monday staged demonstrations across the country to mark World Human Rights Day as a “black day.” They protested against the suspension of the constitution, sacking of judges, gagging of the media, and the widespread abuse of human rights since the emergency was declared. In Lahore, numerous protesters turned up on The Mall, wearing black, displaying placards and chanting slogans. The rally — the first permitted to march on The Mall after the emergency – gathered and dispersed peacefully. In Peshawar, protesters gathered outside the press club and took out a procession to Governor’s House. They wore black and chanted slogans. Police stopped the procession before it reached Governor’s House, and protesters proceeded to make speeches right there. In Quetta, protesters staged a demonstration in front of the press club. They chanted slogans and made speeches, alleging mass and severe human rights abuses, including arrests and torture, particularly in Balochistan.