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Pakistan

    March 27, 2014

    The Pakistani authorities should immediately release a Christian man sentenced to death under the country’s draconian blasphemy laws and quash his conviction, Amnesty International said today.

    Savan Masih, a Christian road sweeper from Lahore, was today sentenced to death by hanging for blasphemy and fined 200,000 rupees. He was arrested on 6 March 2013 after a friend accused him of making blasphemous remarks during an argument.

    “This is a travesty of justice. There are serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, and an argument between two friends is not a basis for sending anyone to the gallows. Savan Masih must be released immediately and unconditionally,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    The vague formulation of the blasphemy laws, along with inadequate investigation by authorities and intimidation by mobs and some religious groups, has promoted vigilantism across Pakistan, especially in the northeastern state of Punjab.

    February 11, 2014

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately determine the whereabouts of an anti-drone activist who disappeared days before he was due to travel to Europe to give testimony before the European Parliament, Amnesty International said.

    According to witnesses, over a dozen men, some in police uniforms, others in plain clothes, burst into Kareem Khan’s home and whisked him away in the early hours of the morning on 5 February.

    “We are concerned that prominent human rights activist Kareem Khan may have been disappeared to prevent him from giving testimony overseas about US drone strikes in Pakistan,” said Isabelle Arradon, Asia-Pacific Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    Kareem Khan’s brother and son were killed in a US drone attack in December 2009.

    Khan has brought a case to the Pakistan courts calling for members of the US Central Intelligence Agency to be prosecuted for the killings. He is also suing the Pakistani government because of their alleged failure to effectively investigate the deaths of his son and brother.

    January 24, 2014

    Pakistan must immediately and unconditionally release a man sentenced to death under the country’s blasphemy laws today, Amnesty International said.

    Mohammad Asghar, a UK citizen with a mental illness, living in Pakistan, was first arrested in 2010 after allegedly sending letters to various officials claiming he was a prophet.

    “Mohammad Asghar is now facing the gallows simply for writing a series of letters. He does not deserve punishment. No one should be charged on the basis of this sort of conduct,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are used indiscriminately against both Muslims and non-Muslims, and violate the basic human rights of freedom of religion and thought.

    “The blasphemy laws undermine the rule of law, and people facing charges risk death and other harm in detention. Pakistan must immediately release Mohammed Ashgar and reform its blasphemy laws to ensure that this will not happen again,” said Polly Truscott.

    October 22, 2013

    In October 2012, 8-year-old Nabeela ventured out with her 68-year-old grandmother Mamana Bibi to do daily chores in their family's large, open field. Moments later, Mamana was blasted into pieces by a US drone strike that appears to have been aimed directly at her. Amnesty International did not find any evidence she was endangering anyone, let alone posing an imminent threat to the US. Yet a year has passed and the US government has not acknowledged Mamana Bibi's death, let alone provided justice or compensation for it.

    "Will I be next?," a new report from Amnesty International, finds that this killing, and several other so-called targeted killings from US drone strikes in Pakistan, may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes. Based on interviews with 60 survivors and eyewitnesses to these strikes, "Will I be next?" documents potentially unlawful killings and abuses, and makes recommendations to the US government for how to uphold the right to life and ensure accountability for any unlawful killings.

     

    September 18, 2013

    Pakistani school girl and education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai is one of two 2013 recipients of Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award, along with singer and human rights and social justice activist Harry Belafonte.

    Malala Yousafzai

    The youngest ever recipient of the Ambassador of Conscience Award, Yousafzai is a 16-year-old advocate for equal access to education. Malala will be presented with the Award by U2's Bono accompanied by Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.

    In 2009 the BBC published the girl's diary which detailed her frustrations with the Taliban's order to shut down all girls’ schools in her native Pakistan.

    In 2012, Malala, then aged 15, and two friends were attacked by the Pakistani Taliban on their way home from school. Malala was shot and severely wounded in the attack. Treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hosptial in Birmingham, she now has a titanium plate fitted to help her hear.

    August 06, 2013

    The Pakistani authorities must hold former military ruler Pervez Musharraf accountable for all human rights violations committed during his rule, Amnesty International said ahead of a key trial today.

    Musharraf is today expected to be formally charged at an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad with criminal conspiracy and murder related to the December 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

    There are a number of other cases pending against Musharraf, including in relation to the 2006 killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti, with trials for these expected to follow later in the year.

    “It is encouraging to see the courts take the unprecedented step of bringing a former Army Chief to account for his alleged involvement in past human rights violations and crimes under international law. But Musharraf must be held accountable for all violations committed under his rule, not just a select few,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    July 03, 2013

    The new Pakistani government must not resume executions and instead impose an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition, Amnesty International said.

    Media reports in Pakistan over the past few days have suggested that the new government, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, may be moving rapidly to resume state killings in response to the prevailing law and order situation in the country.

    "Any government green light to resume executions in Pakistan would be a shocking and retrograde step, putting thousands of people’s lives at risk,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, most of whom have exhausted the appeals process, and could now be facing execution.

    “The sheer number of people at risk makes the new government policy of turning back to the death penalty even more horrendous,” said Truscott.

    June 05, 2013

    Pakistan’s new government must not surrender respect for human rights in any potential peace talks with the Taliban or other armed groups, Amnesty International said.

    The organization also urged the new government, which takes office today (5 June), to make human rights a top priority during its term, starting with investigating election-related killings and other abuses that occurred over the last three months.

    “Pakistan has just passed a historic political milestone by seeing through this democratic transition. The new administration must now seize the opportunity to tackle the many human rights challenges facing the country,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    The transition to the new government, led by incoming Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) party, marks the first time in Pakistan’s history that one elected civilian government is replaced by another, after seeing out a full term in office.

    May 02, 2013

    Pakistani authorities must protect Indian prisoners from violence in the country's jails, Amnesty International said today after an Indian death row inmate died following an attack in a Lahore jail.

    Sarabjit Singh was reportedly beaten with bricks and iron bars by other inmates while walking in the grounds of Kot Lakhpat prison on Friday. Singh's lawyer said the jail authorities had been warned that he had recently received death threats.

    Singh was sentenced to death in 1991 for involvement in bombings that killed 14 people, although his family maintain he is innocent. He is the second Indian national to die in a Pakistani jail this year.

    "Pakistani prison authorities have seemingly failed in their duty to protect Sarabjit Singh, despite him apparently receiving death threats," said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    April 24, 2013

    The Pakistani authorities must investigate the wave of attacks and threats on political candidates and election workers, Amnesty International said in an open letter released before the country goes to the polls for general elections on 11 May.

    The organization also called on all political parties, and candidates to commit to specific measures for improving the country’s human rights situation during their election campaigns.

    “This has been a particularly deadly election period marked by an alarming surge in attacks and intimidation of political activists and election officials,” Mustafa Qadri, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher, said.

    Campaigning ahead of Pakistan’s upcoming general elections has been marred by human rights abuses. At least 37 people have been killed and 183 injured in attacks on election officials and political party representatives and supporters countrywide.

    February 18, 2013

    The Pakistan authorities must do more to protect the persecuted Shi’a Hazara minority community, Amnesty International said following a devastating attack in Quetta that killed scores.

    On Saturday 17 February, at least 84 people, mostly Shi’a Hazaras, were killed when a bomb exploded in a vegetable market in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

    The bombing was claimed by the anti-Shi’a armed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). LeJ also claimed responsibility for a series of bombings targeting Hazaras in Quetta on 10 January 2013 that claimed more than 90 lives.

    “These attacks demonstrate Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s utter disregard for human rights and basic principles of humanity,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    “Also shocking is the continued failure of the authorities to bring to justice any of those responsible for committing these killings, or inciting others to carry them out.”

    To Amnesty International’s knowledge, no one has been prosecuted for the January 2013 attacks or other targeted killings of Hazaras in recent years.

    January 17, 2013

    Protests against alleged killings by Pakistan’s armed forces have taken place across the Tribal Areas, as Amnesty International called on the authorities to investigate and bring anyone identified as responsible for unlawful killings to justice in fair trials.

    Yesterday protesters gathered outside the residence of the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the Peshawar Press Club after 18 bodies were found dumped across Barra district of Khyber Tribal Agency the previous day, 15 January.

    Relatives claim the 18 people were shot dead by soldiers of the Frontier Corp, part of the Pakistan armed forces, either during or after raids on their homes. The victims include seven members of the same family.

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