FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, AHRC-ANM-006-2008
June 2, 2008
An Announcement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
ASIA: Speech of the Mr. Muneer Malik, former president of Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association at the award ceremony at Gwangju at South Korea
We wish to share with you the following speech of Mr. Muneer Malik, delivered on his acceptance of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights. He received the human rights award on May 18, 2008 on the occasion of the 518 International Solidarity Program, held in commemoration of the great people’s movement in Gwangju, South Korea against the military dictatorship and for democracy.
Lahore: While condemning the restrictions on the Geo TV and denial of licence to its English channel as the opening of a new front against the media and the restrictions on lawyers in Karachi as reneging on pledges to the people, HRCP has warned the government that such tactics will aggravate the national crisis and add to the people’s frustration. In a statement issued here today, HRCP Chairperson Asma Jahangir and Co-chairperson Iqbal Haider have said:
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan unequivocally condemns the reported directive to the Geo TV to refrain from reporting or discussing certain developments and Pemra’s refusal to grant licence to its English channel. Regardless of the source of these restrictions they constitute an assault on media freedom that cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. That the judiciary should start wielding the hatchet against the media bodes ill for both and we hope reason will prevail before the situation worsens.
As if the opening of a new front against the media were not enough, the government has deemed it appropriate to observe the anniversary of the May 12, 2007 carnage in Karachi with use of force to prevent a peaceful demonstration by lawyers in that city. The incident amounts to reneging on democratic sounding pledges made to the people only a few weeks ago. It seems necessary to warn the authorities responsible for reviving authoritarian tactics that attacks on the people’s most fundamental liberties will boomerang on them. The times demand earnest endeavours to alleviate the plight of the people. The country cannot afford any continuation of the dictatorial policies that have brought the nation to the present pass.
A Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report on the events of May 12th 2007
This report does not presume to pre-empt or anticipate the outcomes of the processes of accountability that have been initiated in the courts and elsewhere.Its aim is more limited.It attempts to create a record based on newspaper reports, testimonies and accounts provided by eyewitnesses and affidavits relating to the events in Karachi on May 12.Much of the material used in this report is already in the public domain.In the politically charged atmosphere that prevailed in the city, “facts” became contested almost as soon as they were first reported.
This report does not start with a particular brief for or against any actor.As a starting position, it takes at face value what was said, observed and reported.It tries to corroborate various factual accounts through a method of triangulation wherever possible.Where there appear to be unresolved contradictions between various accounts of the same event, the conflicting accounts are reported. The report does, however, provide analysis of events, patterns of action, and the responses of various players present or active in the events of May 12.It is hoped that the factual reporting and the analysis provided here will be augmented, improved and corrected as more witnesses and stakeholders come forward and provide their inputs into the report.
The Report is available for sale from the Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad offices for Rs. 150. The soft copy will be made available online at the HRCP website soon.