HRCP aghast at the extrajudicial killings of three Baloch nationalists

Press Release, April 9, 2009

Lahore: The killings, allegedly by the security forces, of Baloch Nationalists are a dangerous provocation and a grave violation of human rights. HRCP has credible information that Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Munir and Sher Mohammad, office holders of Baloch Republican Party and Balochistan National Party, were picked up on 3rd April 2009 by people in plain clothes, who were accompanied by two vehicles of Frontier Corps that stood at a distance. It is reported by credible sources that the three victims were sitting in the office of their lawyer after having attended a court hearing when they were forcibly picked up, blindfolded and taken in cars, closely followed by vehicles belonging to the Frontier Corps. A number of people witnessed the abduction. Mutilated bodies of the three victims were found in an isolated place near Turbat in the early hours of the morning.

The facts strongly suggest that members of state security picked up the three victims, tortured and killed them before dumping their dead bodies, which were discovered in a mutilated and decayed form. HRCP is aghast at this brazen violation of human rights and calls upon the government to get this incident thoroughly investigated so that the perpetrators are brought to justice. It is crucial that the authorities condemn this act and warn the security forces from taking the law into their own hands. Persecution of Baloch Nationalists must be stopped and the policy of hounding or maligning them through illegal means be abandoned by the authorities. Those involved in any criminal activities must be dealt with according to the law rather than through arbitrary and foul means. It is imperative that the government set up a high level Commission to identify those who indulged in involuntary disappearances, torture and extra judicial killings of hundreds of Baloch activists during and after the Musharraf regime. Victims must be compensated and offenders identified and brought to trial. HRCP warns that the free hand given to the security forces in Balochistan in violating the rights of Baloch nationalists will alienate the people of the Province and escalate the level of violence in the Province. Political demands must be met with political solutions and not through brute force.

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson HRCP

HRCP seminar concludes Pakistan and Taliban cannot co-exist

Press Release, April 5

LAHORE: The people of Pakistan cannot accept peace at the cost of surrendering citizens’ rights to militant groups, a seminar organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Sunday observed. It concluded that Pakistan and Taliban cannot co-exist.

The speakers at the seminar, “Militancy in FATA and Swat: Impact and remedies”, said that the militants in Swat and FATA were not all indigenous. Militants from other parts of the country and foreigners were imposed on them. They emphasised that in Swat conflict could be over soon if the government and the military were determined and sincere. However, they said that such determination and sincerity were not in evidence. They said the military operation in Swat had been a failure and had only caused large-scale suffering and displacement for the civilian population.

They said that the government had failed in its primary responsibility of protecting the lives, liberty and property of citizens.

Speakers hailing form Swat and the tribal areas said that the militancy had spilled over from those areas and now the whole of NWFP was at its mercy.

They said that alienation had grown among the residents of the affected areas, who think that there is a lack of care in addressing their suffering.

They said the militancy will spread to all parts where there was a lack of governance and failure to implement rule of law and constitutional guarantees. Pakistan’s Northern Areas, could be the next target.

All speakers vehemently criticised the so-called peace deal struck with militants in Swat and emphasised that it was regrettable that a government bargained with such elements who had no respect for basic rights. They highlighted that even though the residents of Swat have suffered the most at the hands of militants, not a single person from Swat had been consulted before striking a deal. They said the contents of the “peace deal” violated the constitution and law of Pakistan.

Speakers from the tribal areas said the State had left the citizens and armed private lashkars to shoulder the responsibility of law and order and confront the militants. This has also increased militarisation of society, which will further disturb peace.

They said even though the legal vacuum in their areas had not caused the militancy, it had certainly been used as a justification to give militants a foothold in the area. They added that laws allowing collective punishment in FATA had no precedent in the civilised world.

The speakers unanimously agreed that the ideas of Taliban and the people of Pakistan were incompatible. They urged the government to ensure that Pakistan’s interest takes precedence in Islamabad’s dealings with other partners in the so-called war on terror and come up with a comprehensive policy to ensure that security is not achieved at the cost of sovereignty or human rights.

The role of the media in glorifying militants was criticised and the importance of calling a militant a militant was emphasised.

Speakers included Asma Jahangir, Iqbal Haider, Sher Muhammad Khan, Kamran Arif, Waseem Shah, Zarteef Afridi, Ihsanullah Afridi, Shaukat Saleem and Zainul Abideen.

Afzal Khan Lala addressed the seminar on phone from his native Swat, which he has refused to abandon in the face of extremist threats.

I. A. Rehman

Secretary-General

Anti-terrorism demo on Saturday

Anti-terrorism demo on Saturday

Press release, April 1

Lahore: A Lahore citizens’ rally will be held outside the Lahore High Court building on Saturday, April 4, 2009, at 4-30 pm to demonstrate the people’s will to resist and defeat the terrorists. Later on the participants will march peacefully up to the Charing Cross. A decision to organise this demonstration was taken on Tuesday at a largely attended meeting of the members of the Joint Action Committee for People’s Rights, other civil society organisations, human rights activists, political workers, lawyers, women’s rights organisations, and students.

The meeting decided that the people of Lahore had a duty to offer a befitting reply to the terrorists who had been targeting the country’s civilian population and the security personnel, the most recent example being the raid on the police training centre at Manawan. The meeting also decided to hold consultations after Saturday’s rally to evolve a long-term programme for mobilizing the people for fighting the menace of terrorism.

I. A. Rehman

Secretary-General, HRCP

Call to join rally against terrorism

Lahore, April 1: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) calls upon all political workers, lawyers, civil society organisations, trade unions, women activists, human rights campaigners, writers, artists, teachers and the youth to join the anti-terrorism rally in Lahore on Saturday, April 4, 2009. (Outside the Lahore High Court at 4.30 pm.). It is necessary to tell the terrorists that the people of Lahore shall not meekly suffer their cowardly attacks.

Asma Jahangir

Chairperson, HRCP