SAHR Welcomes Indo – Pak Talks

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR)

 

SAHR Welcomes Indo – Pak Talks

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) welcomes talks between the Foreign Secretary of India Ms. Nirupama Rao and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Mr. Salman Bashir which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, 24th June 2010 in Islamabad Pakistan.

India and Pakistan are to commence a set of back-to-back meetings, starting with the talks between their foreign secretaries. The talks are to cover an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, confidence-building measures and the Indus water dispute. The aim is at bridging the trust deficit which was created after the Mumbai Attacks in 2008 and exploring ways to revive dialogue between them.

SAHR believes that the talks will provide a much needed opportunity to bridge the differences between the two countries and take positive steps towards peace between India and Pakistan. It is imperative that countries of South Asia overcome their hostility and sustain a dialogue to address the contentious issues and misunderstandings that have threatened peace and cooperation in South Asia. SAHR hopes that through these talks there will be a reaffirmation by both sides of their intention to promote regional cooperation which can establish better relations between the two countries to move towards a composite dialogue that will have a positive impact in South Asia.

SAHR is of the view that both countries must engage in a fruitful process of confidence building so that serious issues facing them as well as the rest of South Asia can be resolved,

SAHR hopes that the delegations of both countries will make serious efforts to resolves problems in the interest of peace and cooperation in South Asia and thus make peace a reality for the people. It also calls on both governments to encourage people-to-people contact by making travel easier between the two countries.

SAHR Secretariat

HRCP urges inclusive, transparent compensation plan for conflict-hit areas

Lahore, June 24, 2010: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has asked the government to inform the people as to how the plan for compensation for damage to houses in the conflict-hit zones of the country is progressing.

A statement issued by HRCP on Thursday said: “HRCP welcomes government’s move to start assessment of damage to houses in the conflict-hit northwestern parts of the country with a view to giving compensation to the affected people. However, while damage to totally or partially destroyed houses has been assessed in Buner, Upper Dir and Swat districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and at least estimates of damages calculated in Bajaur and Mohmand regions in FATA, HRCP regrets that the same has not happened in Upper Swat and Lower Dir, Shangla, Hangu and Kohat districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and South Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai agencies in FATA.

HRCP cannot emphasise enough the importance of early payment of compensation to the affected people, which is crucial for individuals to return to their communities and rebuild their homes and lives. It would also mitigate anger over damage to property in security forces’ operations and garner support for government action against militants.

HRCP strongly suggests that the government consult representatives of the affected people during the decision-making process to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

The government must also explain to the people how transparency would be ensured in the distribution of compensation and what mechanisms have been put in place to ensure accountability.”

ICJ Commissioner Muhannad Al-Hasani sentenced to three years

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE – COMUNICADO DE PRENSA

For immediate release Geneva, 23 June 2009

Syria: ICJ Commissioner Muhannad Al-Hasani sentenced to three years
imprisonment

The ICJ calls for his immediate and unconditional release
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) strongly condemns the decision of the Second
Criminal Court of Damascus to convict Mr. Muhannad Al-Hasani, ICJ Commissioner and
prominent Syrian lawyer and human rights defender, sentencing him to three years
imprisonment. He was arrested on 28 July by officers of the Syrian General Intelligence
Service and formally charged by an Investigating Judge on 12 October 2009 for “weakening
national sentiments and encouraging racist and sectarian feelings”, and “transferring false and
exaggerated news that weaken national sentiments” under Articles 285, 286 and 287 of the Penal
Code.

“The trial of Mr. Al-Hasani before the Second Criminal Court of Damascus was a summary trial
which failed to meet international standards of due process,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ Secretary
General. “The President of the Court denied all defence witnesses from giving evidence and did not
require the prosecution to present any credible evidence to support the accusations against Mr. Al-
Hasani,” Tayler added.

Convicting Al-Hasani for the charges arising from his observation and reporting on open
trials of the State Security Court, and his activities as President of the Syrian Organisation for
Human Rights, amount to punishment for the exercise of his legitimate right to freedom of
expression and association, and his professional conduct as a lawyer.

“From the outset and during the hearings, Mr. Al-Hasani was presumed guilty and the burden of
proof was placed on him not on the prosecution, “said Tayler. “His right to present evidence, to
examine and cross-examine witnesses was also denied,” he added.

Since 28 July 2009 Mr. Al-Hasani has been detained in jail, during which time his lawyers
were not allowed to meet him without prior authorization from the Syrian Bar Association, a
non-independent organization under the control of the Syrian authorities. On a number of
occasions they were refused permission to meet with him.

“The decision of the Criminal Court is final and can only be challenged before the Cassation
Court on procedural grounds,” said Wilder Tayler. Limiting the appeal to procedural
grounds in this case violates Mr. Al-Hasani’s right to appeal, constituting a further violation
of the guarantees to a fair trial” Tayler added.

“The Syrian authorities must abide by their obligations under international law and
immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Al-Hasani,” Tayler concluded.

For more information, please contact Saīd Benarbia,
Middle East & North Africa Legal Adviser, + 41765883362

HRCP group begins work to highlight threats based on belief

Lahore, June 15, 2010: A working group established by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has formally started working to highlight the challenges and discrimination faced by the communities across the country on account of their belief.

The HRCP Working Group on Rights of Communities Vulnerable Because of their Belief, which was launched last week, comprises members of Christian, Hindu, Bahai, Ahmedi, Zoroastrian, Sikh and Muslim communities.
The group has decided to give priority to initiatives to highlight human rights violations and concerns; analysis of discriminatory laws and practices and recommending appropriate changes; and scrutiny of circumstances that allow advocacy of hatred based on religious beliefs, which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Over the next few months, the group plans to engage in a constructive dialogue with the civil society and policy makers to lobby for change, as well as enhance capacity of members of vulnerable communities. The group is expected to release its first report by the end of the year.

The group has been set up in response to growing vulnerability of members of these communities over the last several years as extremists and militants have increasingly resorted to violence and incitement to violence to target them.

by: I. A. Rehman Secretary – General

HRCP alarmed over likely choice to head CII

Lahore, June 14, 2010: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the reported decision to appoint a conservative cleric to head the Council of Islamic Ideology.

A statement issued by HRCP on Monday said: “The reported decision to relieve the widely acclaimed scholar for rational interpretation of Islamic injunctions as chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and replace him with an office-bearer of a religious political party will cause widespread concern among the democratic sections of the people.

The reported decision, if true, deserves to be censured as it is too heavy a price to pay for the passage of the federal budget, or even the survival of the federal government. In the long run, neither economic planning, nor the status of the present government will escape the consequences.

Even though the status of the CII is now that of an advisory body after it has been superseded by the Federal Shariat Court, the Council’s decisions still carry a certain influence with devout Muslims, especially laypersons among them. That is all the more reason to demonstrate prudence while nominating the chairman and members of the body.

In addition to being religious scholars, the members, and indeed the chairman, of the CII should also be abreast of contemporary challenges.
HRCP is seriously concerned that such nominations would strengthen forces of obscurantism and strongly suggests that CII positions should not be given away as a reward for political services of dubious value.”

by: Asma Jahangir Chairperson

Dr. Ayyaz returns home

Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan, missing in Dubai, has been released by his captors following the HRCP’s urgent appeal

Dr Ayyaz Ali Khan, a noted Pakistani dentist, who was missing in Dubai for a couple of weeks, has been released. Following the HRCP’s Urgent Appeal for his recovery. He arrived in Islamabad on 8th June 2010.

URGENT APPEAL HRCP

Dr. Ayyaz Ali, Missing in UAE

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan requests your urgent intervention in the following situation

Description of the situation:

HRCP has been informed by Mrs. Shirin Khan about the missing of her husband Dr. Ayyaz Ali, a Pakistani in UAE

Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan is an eminent scholar and a leading academician of Pakistan with an international repute in the filed of dental and oral health. He is head of the Dental Department, Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore; Associate Dean Faculty of medicine & Dentistry University of the Punjab and Member of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC). He received the “ Research Publication Award 2009” by the National Health Research Council for over 96 national and international scientific publications. He has been the National Coordinator for Oral Health, WHO and is a HEC recognized supervisor for M/Phil/PhD. He is a dental scholar who has represented Pakistan on various international forums. He won two FDI Projects (International Dental Federation) in the region and has successfully completed them.

Due to his reputation he was asked to work as an adjunct Principal of Islamic International Dental College which is part of Riphah International University, Islamabad and also to provide the professional expertise for RAK College of Dental Science UAE ( A project of Riphah International University, Islamabad).His sole purpose of accepting this position was to extend and alleviate the name of Pakistan in the International Dental Education System and to get recognition of Pakistan Post graduate in UAE. . It is for this reason that he has been traveling frequently between Pakistan and Ras Al Khaimah, where he lives in an accommodation provided by the RAK College of Dental Science.

Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan left Pakistan on 31st March 2010 for Ras-ul-Khaymah, UAE routinely to perform his professional duties for RAK College of Dental Sciences and he was in contact (cell phone) with his family till 4th April 2010. After that there has been no contact with the family and later it was revealed by a friend that he is missing since the early hours of 5th April 2010.

Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan is a law abiding citizen and was not involved in any kind of politics.

Since April 4, 2010 he is missing and his whereabouts are not known.

It is apprehended that Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan has been taken into custody by UAE agencies.

He has been denied Counselor access.
There is great threat to his life.

Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan is still detained at “unknown location” and has not been given access to Pakistani Consulate.

According to Dr Khan’s family, the UAE security forces told them that they had no record of his arrest or detention.

HRCP apprehends ‘torture and ill-treatment’ of the arrested person.

“HRCP fears the arrest and detention of the Dr. Ayyaz, in conditions amounting to forced disappearance puts him at a great risk of torture or other ill-treatment

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in Pakistan/UAE urging them:

1. To disclose his whereabouts and the reason for his arrest.
2. To release the detainee immediately if he is not to be charged with a cognizable criminal offense.

3. To allow the family of the detainee to meet him.
4. He should be provided counsel access and medical care if required.

4. To protect him from torture and other ill-treatment while he is in detention.

5. To Pakistani authorities to immediately take up this matter with the government of UAE

Sample

We expressed our deep concern on the illegal detention of Dr. Ayyaz Ali Khan, an eminent scholar and a leading academician of Pakistan with an international repute in the field of dental and oral health, kept in illegal detention at UAE since 4 April 2010.

We demand that he is not tortured.
We urge that he is dealt with according to law and provided counselor access
We urge you that if there is no case against him he should be immediately released.
We urge you to provide him all kind of medical facilities.
We demand that his family should be allowed to meet him.

It would be appreciated if you send a copy of your letter to HRCP/Urgent Appeal (Zaman Khan)

Address:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
E-mail: (please see: http://www.presiden tofpakistan. gov.pk/WTPreside ntMessage. aspx)

2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet. gov.pk

Mr. Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Minister of Foreign Affair
Government of Pakistan
Islamabad

3. Mr. Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@ gmail.com or interior.complaintc ell@gmail. com

Excellency
Amir
United Arab Emirates
UAE

His Excellency Ali Saif Sultan Al-Awani,
The Ambassador of UAE,
Embassy of UAE
Diplomatic Enclave,
Plot No. 122, Sector G-5,
Islamabad
Phone. 92-51-2099999
Fax.. 92-51-2206732

Millions suffer in ‘human rights free zone’ in northwest Pakistan – Amnesty International

Millions of Pakistanis in the northwest tribal areas live in a human rights free zone where they have no legal protection by the government and are subject to abuses by the Taleban

Millions of Pakistanis in the northwest tribal areas live in a human rights free zone where they have no legal protection by the government and are subject to abuses by the Taleban, Amnesty International said in a major report released on Thursday.

“Nearly 4 million people are effectively living under the Taleban in northwest Pakistan without rule of law and effectively abandoned by the Pakistani government,” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s interim Secretary General.

The 130-page report, ‘As if Hell Fell on Me’: The Human Rights Crisis in Northwest Pakistan, is based on nearly 300 interviews with residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and adjacent areas of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). The report gives voice to those whose experiences are rarely reported and reveals the abuses faced by the region’s residents.

“There are still more than 1 million people who were displaced from their homes in Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt by the conflict with the Taleban whose plight is largely ignored and are in desperate need of aid,” said Claudio Cordone.

Amnesty International’s review of available information also suggests that at least 1,300 civilians were killed in the fighting in northwest Pakistan in 2009, from a total of more than 8,500 casualties (including combatants).

The report documents the systematic abuses carried out by the Taleban as they established their rule by killing those who challenge their authority, such as tribal elders and government officials.

They imposed their rule through torture and other ill-treatment, targeting teachers, aid workers and political activists. The Taleban have particularly targeted women and schools and health clinics catering to their needs.

Amnesty International was told of Taleban insurgents blocking roads to prevent civilians from escaping as villages fell under heavy bombardment by government forces. The insurgents also increased the likelihood of civilian causalities by dispersing themselves among civilians and in and around schools.

Successive Pakistani governments have treated the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan with disdain, ignoring the rights of the area’s residents, particular in FATA.

Over the past decade, Pakistan’s government has veered from appeasing the Pakistani Taleban through a series of failed “peace deals” to launching heavy handed military operations that include indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks.

The USA’s use of drones to target insurgents in northwest Pakistan has generated considerable resentment inside Pakistan. Amnesty International has called on the USA to clarify its chain of command and rules of engagement for the use of drones and ensure proper accountability for civilian casualties.

Many displaced residents of the area told Amnesty International that they had suffered under the Taleban and felt abandoned by the Pakistani government. In the words of one teacher who fled Swat with his family in March 2009:

The government just gave away our lives to the Taleban. What’s the point of having this huge army if it can’t even protect us against a group of brutal fanatics? They took over my school and started to teach children about how to fight in Afghanistan. They kicked out the girls from school, told the men to grow their beards, threatened anybody they didn’t like. Our government and our military never tried to protect us from this.

The residents of FATA continue to be governed by a colonial-era law, the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR) of 1901, which denies basic constitutional rights and protections for the residents of FATA, including their rights to political representation, judicial appeal, and freedom from collective punishment.

“For years, FATA has been treated as a stage for geopolitical rivalries and is currently in focus because of the conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan and the search for al-Qa’ida, rather than the rights of the people living there,” said Claudio Cordone. “The Pakistani government should not just respond using military force; it needs to provide and protect the basic rights of its citizens living there.”

The FCR gives a government-appointed Political Agent ultimate judicial and executive authority, including the ability to carry out communal punishment, including formal detention, by holding all members of a tribe potentially responsible for alleged infractions committed by any tribe member.

The Constitution of Pakistan of 1973 explicitly excludes FATA from the legal, judicial and parliamentary system of Pakistan, including barring residents from full representation in parliament and from bringing appeals to a higher court outside the territory.

The government of Pakistan has recently promised to reform the FCR but this has not yet happened.

“The Pakistani government has to follow through on its promises to bring the region out of this human rights black hole and place the people of FATA under the protection of the law and constitution of Pakistan,” said Claudio Cordone. “There is no quick fix for decades of misrule and the conflict of the past few years, but the road to recovery starts with recognizing the rights of the people of FATA.”

Amnesty International urges both the Pakistani government and the Taleban to comply with international humanitarian law by taking all measures to prevent loss of civilian life and buildings including hospitals and schools and allowing unfettered NGO access to provide food, shelter and medical supplies to the injured and displaced.

For more detail click here.
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/millions-suffer-human-rights-free-zone-northwest-pakistan-2010-06-10