Govt adopting dictatorial ways: HRCP

Press Release, March 11, 2009

 

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed dismay at curbs on freedom of assembly, arbitrary arrests and harassment of lawyers, political figures and civil society activists ahead of the lawyers’ long march.

 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, HRCP said: “A wave of indiscriminate arrests has been reported from across the country ahead of the long march. Such arrests, snatching and placing of containers on roads, and imposing curbs on the right to peaceful assembly are measures disturbingly similar to the path military ruler Pervez Musharraf had taken against dissent and peaceful protest. The government is abusing legal process to prevent the people from exercising their democratic rights.

 

There is no justification for the government’s undemocratic decision to impose Section 144 curbs on the right to assembly and unleash a spate of arrests and harassment against lawyers, political workers and civil society activists. In Punjab, the enforcement of Section 144 restrictions has compounded the already tense situation created by the imposition of governor’s rule.

 

All the marches, rallies and protests of lawyers in the past two years have been peaceful without exception. The government, therefore, has no justification in preventing gathering of lawyers.

 

Indiscriminate actions – such as arrest and confinement in police stations of people like Tahira Abdullah, an HRCP board member – are hardly a distinction for a government that prides itself at being democratically elected.

 

The government’s resort to ways of authoritarian regimes has cancelled out whatever goodwill it had achieved by not interfering with the lawyers’ long march last year.

 

The government’s action is undemocratic, counterproductive and will only fuel confrontation. Whatever the outcome of the present protest, the government’s reckless policy is posing a grave threat not only to the democratic experiment but also to the state’s integrity.

 

There is still time for the government to give up the policy of conflict and defuse tensions by accommodating the demands of lawyers, ending governor Raj in Punjab, and allowing the Punjab Assembly to exercise its right to elect its leader.

 

The government must release all the detainees and desist from impeding in any way the people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly and protest.”

 

 

Iqbal Haider

Co-chairperson

141 suicides in one month: HRCP

Press Release, March 9, 2009

 

LAHORE: At least 141 people committed suicide in the country in one month ending February 25 according to statistics available with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and published in its monthly journal.

 

Of those committing suicide between 26th January and 25th February, 104 individuals were male and the rest female.

 

Thirty-five people, including a 12-year-old boy, committed suicide over their failure to find employment or on account of poverty. Fifty-five people took their own lives by consuming poison, insecticide or various chemicals, 29 used firearms, while 28 hanged themselves.

 

Two unidentified men died on February 19 after they had set themselves on fire in protest against excessive utility bills.

 

The youngest person to commit suicide was a 10-year-old and the oldest was 70. The age of the victims could not be ascertained in many cases.

 

At least 59 incidents of attempted suicide were reported during the same period.

 

Over the corresponding period the previous month, at least 138 people – 98 men and 40 women – had committed and 78 had attempted suicide.

 

 

I. A. Rehman

Secretary General

Blast at Rehman Baba’s mausoleum shocks HRCP

Press Release, March 5

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

  

Asma Jahangir

Chairperson

Mobile courts will disrupt judicial order: HRCP

Press release, March 2

Lahore: The manner in which the federal government has decided to launch mobile courts will lead to disruption of judicial order and widespread resentment, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said.

A press statement issued by HRCP on Monday said: “Both the timing and manner of promulgating an ordinance to establish mobile courts raise grave concerns. There is no valid reason why the government chose to introduce the measure through a presidential ordinance a day ahead of the current National Assembly session. Such brazen-faced tricks to bypass the parliament always invite doubts on government’s bona fides. It is impossible to ignore the timing of the measure, amid protests by the PML-N against the court verdict disqualifying its leaders and ahead of the lawyers’ long march. If it is meant to pre-empt protests and demonstrations it will only fuel more. Such shortsighted measures would achieve little other than further undermining public faith in the judicial order and increasing credibility gap between the public and the government and it is all the more important to avoid them amid the prevailing confidence deficit and political turmoil.”

Asma Jahangir , Chairperson