HRCP slates bid to gag Balochistan newspapers

Press Release, 28 August 2009

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday called upon the government to respect press freedom in Balochistan and end the practice of laying virtual siege of independent newspapers’ offices in the province.

A statement issued by HRCP said: “The Commission is alarmed at reports of Frontier Constabulary (FC) personnel laying siege of Quetta offices of at least two newspapers. On August 18, Urdu daily Asaap announced suspension of its publication after the security forces cordoned its Quetta office for two weeks and all visitors and employees were frisked, questioned and humiliated.

FC personnel have now been deployed outside the offices of Urdu daily Aazdi and nobody is allowed in without submitting to a search and questioning.

Journalists and the media in Balochistan face numerous security threats and this makes their work even harder.

Even prior to the security forces’ clampdown, these newspapers were being victimised and Asaap – one of the widely-circulated Urdu newspaper in Balochistan – had been denied government advertisements for a number of years.

To say that the government agents’ actions are illegal and in clear violation of domestic and international guarantees for freedom of expression is to state the obvious, but HRCP must remind the government that curbing freedom of the media, stifling newspapers or denying them advertisements will only add to the problems it faces in Balochistan.”

Asma Jahangir
Chairperson

HRCP delegation met with the Chief Minister of Sindh

HRCP delegation met with the Chief Minister of Sindh

 

HRCP has been holding consultations on human rights issues confronting the country. With a new democratically elected government in power, HRCP believes it is time to share concerns and proposals with political leaders.

 

Therefore, a delegation of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan headed by Iqbal Haider, Co-Chairperson HRCP, comprising of Uzma Noorani, Asad Iqbal Butt, Sindh Council Members of HRCP, and Ejaz Ahsan, Program Coordinator, HRCP had a meeting with Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sindh at CM House on June 5, 2008.

 

HRCP delegation shared a copy of policy statement of HRCP on critical issues of human rights, for the consideration and support of PPP leadership . This policy statement was adopted by the General Body at HRCP’s Annual General Meeting held recently.

 

CM promised moving necessary resolutions and bill for legislation wherever required, for expeditious implementation of the recommendations of HRCP on human rights issues.

 

HRCP also expressed concern over marrying off 15 under-age girls to settle tribal dispute through a jirga held in Chach village, Kashmore-Kandhkot and demanded that the provincial government take immediate action against all those responsible for the illegal and inhuman decisions and ensure immediate release of the minor girls.

 

Iqbal Haider also presented the recently published, Annual Report of HRCP “State of Human Rights in 2007” to the CM.

 

Policy Statement of HRCP Continue reading

HRCP Press Release – State of Emergency

lawyers police clashLahore, November 6, 2007: The Chairperson, Secretary General, Director, Vice Chairpersons and all members of the Council of Human Rights Commission have issued the following statement.

A grave situation has been created by the army chief’s desperate act to retain all power in his hands. The imposition of the new martial law regime has been unanimously denounced by public opinion at home and abroad. The brutal actions against judges, lawyers and civil society organizations have not silenced people’s demand for a transition to democracy, and restoration of the independent status of the judiciary and rule of law. Unless all the steps taken after the proclamation of martial law, in particular the purge of the judiciary, issuance of PCO, restrictions on the media and attacks on the people’s right to political activity and debate, are rolled back neither democracy nor peace will return to the country.

There is no doubt that a proper transition to democratic governance will be possible only after a free, fair and transparent election. The fact however remains that for quite sometime the regime has been doing everything to ensure that a democratic choice is not possible. The way General Musharraf maneuvered to get himself elected by a captive and about-to-expire electoral college made the general election largely meaningless. The imposition of the so-called emergency has eliminated whatever little chance of a proper transition to democratic rule had survived.

HRCP is alarmed at the violence meted out to the lawyers’ community and civil society activists. A large number of them, including women, have been arrested. Bar leaders, including Mr. Aitzaz Ahsan, Muneer A. Malik and Tariq Mahmood are detained and being harassed by the intelligence agencies. The line of attack on them suggests sinister designs to persecute them. Mr. Ali Ahmed Kurd former vice president of the Pakistan Bar Council is in the custody of intelligence agencies and is kept incommunicado. These lawyers are leaders of public opinion and they have an important role to play in the present hour of the nation’s trial.

HRCP demands that the proclamation of November 3 and all actions taken under it must be withdrawn and cancelled forthwith and conditions created for a free exercise of the people’s choice. Without these essential steps elections will only perpetuate autocracy and injustice.

ASMA JAHANGIR

Chairperson – HRCP

Mr. I. A. Rehman – Director, Syed Iqbal Haider -Secretary General, Mr. Shahid Kardar – Treasurer, Mr. Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani (Advocate) – Vice-Chairperson Balochistan, Ms. Zohra Yusuf – Vice-Chairperson Sindh, Mr. Kamran Arif – Vice-Chairperson NWFP, Ms. Hina Jilani – Vice-Chairperson Punjab, and HRCP Council Members Mrs. Surriya Amirrudin, Ms. Rahila Durrani, Mr. Tahir Husain Khan, Mr. Malik Adeel Mengal, Mr. Habib Tahir, Mr. Afrasiab Khattak, Advocate, Ms. Musarrat Hilali, Mr. Sher Mohammad Khan, Ms. Salima Hashmi, Dr. Mubashar Hasan, Dr. Mehdi Hasan, Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry, Ms. Shahtaj Qizilbash, Mr. Nadeem Anthony, Mr. Attiq-ur-Rehman, Advocate, Ms. Uzma Noorani, Mr. Rochi Ram, Ms. Perveen Soomro (Advocate), Mr. Ali Hasan, Mr. Jam Saqi, Mr. Ronald de Souza, Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Mr. Amarnath Motu Mal, and Mr. Asad Iqbal Butt.

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Carnage in Karachi – A city under siege

May 12, 2007 - Carnage in Karachi

                Carnage in Karachi – A city under siege

A Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report on the events of May 12th 2007

Excerpt:

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. 

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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.

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UPDATE: The report is now available on the HRCP website. “Carnage in Karachi – A city under siege 12/05/07” Now on the HRCP Website