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Pakistan

    May 27, 2019

    The Pakistani government should immediately order an independent and effective investigation into the reported killing of at least three activists on Sunday, Amnesty International said today.

    Two parliamentarians affiliated to the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) were leading a procession of activists to the Khar Kamar area of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border, when firing broke out, leading to the deaths.

    One of the parliamentarians, Ali Wazir, is currently in custody of the Pakistani military. There are conflicting accounts of the incident, with the military claiming that PTM activists assaulted a checkpoint and PTM activists insisting that no shots were fired from their side. Phone and internet services were shut down after this incident, adding to the confusion.

    May 08, 2019

    Responding to the reports that Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman freed from death row in 2018, has left Pakistan and arrived in Canada, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich said:

    “If the news is true, it’s a great relief that Asia Bibi and her family are safe. She should never have been imprisoned in the first place, let alone faced the death penalty. That she then had to endure the repeated threats to her life, even after being acquitted, only compounds the injustice. This case illustrates the dangers of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the urgent need to repeal them.”

    Background

    May 02, 2019

    Spokespeople available for interview

    To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Amnesty International will be launching a campaign with Dawn.com, showcasing the consequences on the news if press freedom is curtailed in the country.

    The campaign will be launched at 0900 (Pakistan Standard Time) on 3 May, 2019.

    The Dawn News website will temporarily blur out the homepage when logged onto for the duration of 15 hours to indicate that without press freedom, the truth can often disappear.

    “Over the past year, there has been a noticeable increase in attacks on the right to freedom of expression in Pakistan. We have seen this in the form of regular columnists being refused publication, increased self-censorship and the heightened scrutiny of the editorial policies of many media outlets,” said Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    February 06, 2019
    Release prisoners of conscience Investigate death of PTM activist Arman Luni Disclose whereabouts of human rights defender Gulalai Ismail

    The Pakistani authorities must immediately and unconditionally release protestors belonging to the peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) who have been arbitrarily detained, Amnesty International said today.

    At least 19 people were arrested from cities across Pakistan on 5 February 2019 as the PTM marked a global day of peaceful protests calling for an end to discrimination against Pashtuns in Pakistan and for an end to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations.

    Amnesty International also calls on the Pakistani authorities to investigate the killing of activist Arman Luni, who appears to have been the subject of an extrajudicial execution, and disclose the whereabouts of the well-known human rights defender Gulalai Ismail, who may have been subjected to an enforced disappearance.

    February 01, 2019

    Responding to the news from Pakistan that three political activists and one other person have been disappeared over the last few days, Rabia Mehmood, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, said:

    “It is extremely alarming to see reports of at least four political activists and one other who have been disappeared over the last few days. The Pakistani authorities must immediately launch an independent investigation to determine the fate and whereabouts of the missing people. If they are in state custody, authorities must either release them or produce them in the court immediately and charge them with a recognizable criminal offence.

    “While the Pakistan government is amending the Penal Code to make enforced disappearances a criminal offence, they must also take urgent measures to address this egregious human rights violation and bring all those responsible to justice in fair trials.

    “In some parts of the country, people forcibly disappeared are languishing in detention while their relatives are left without any information on their fate and whereabouts. Pakistani authorities must put an end to this cruel practise.”

    January 29, 2019

    Responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold its ruling, again acquitting Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges and ordering her release, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, Rimmel Mohydin, said:

    “Asia Bibi must finally get her freedom and an end to her ordeal. After nine years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit, it is difficult to see this long overdue verdict as justice. But she should now be free to reunite with her family and seek safety in a country of her choice.

    “The authorities must also resist and investigate any attempts to intimidate the Supreme Court. They have a duty to protect against threats of violence to harm religious minorities or the lives of judges or other government officials.

    “This shameful delay in enforcing Asia Bibi’s rights only reinforces the need for the Pakistani government to repeal the blasphemy laws as soon as possible, as well as other laws that discriminate against religious minorities and put their lives in danger.”

    Background

    November 23, 2018

    Responding to the suicide bomb attack on a crowded marketplace in Pakistan’s northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that has left at least 25 dead and more than 50 injured, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

    “This was a horrific attack that shows utter contempt for human life. The attackers deliberately targeted a marketplace full of ordinary people on a busy Friday afternoon. It is a grim reminder of the threat that continues to be posed by armed groups who are prepared to kill large numbers of people to pursue their agenda. Such attacks, which flout fundamental principles of humanity, can never be justified.

    “The Pakistani authorities should hold the suspected perpetrators accountable through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty. Their response to this appalling crime must prioritize justice for the victims and the protection of human rights and avoid perpetuating the cycle of abuses.”

    October 31, 2018

    Responding to the Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to acquit Aasia Bibi, also known as Aasia Noreen, of blasphemy charges after she was sentenced to death by a trial court in 2010, Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, Omar Waraich, said:

    “This is a landmark verdict and an important victory for religious tolerance in Pakistan. For nearly eight years, Aasia Bibi, a poor Christian farmhand and mother of five, had her life languish in limbo. On the basis of no credible evidence, she was sentenced to death in 2010. The people who spoke up for her were threatened and even killed.

    “This was a case that was used to rouse angry and violent mobs, to justify the assassinations of two senior officials in 2011, and to intimidate the Pakistani state into submission. Mercifully, justice has prevailed. A clear message must now go out that the blasphemy laws will no longer be used to persecute Pakistan’s long-suffering religious minorities.”

    Background

    Aasia Bibi is a poor Christian farmhand and mother of five from a Punjabi village near Nankana Sahib.

    October 12, 2018

    Pakistan’s authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Gulalai Ismail, a Pashtun human rights defender, who was detained on her arrival at Islamabad airport today, Amnesty International said.

    Gulalai Ismail is a supporter of the nonviolent Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which has been campaigning across Pakistan against enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and discrimination against the country’s Pashtun ethnic minority.

    “Gulalai Ismail must be immediately and unconditionally released. There is no justification whatsoever for her detention or for imposing a travel ban on her. She is being detained solely for her peaceful human rights work,” said Rabia Mehmood, South Asia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    Gulalai Ismail, who is the founder of the Seeds of Peace network and the 2017 winner of the Anna Politkovskaya award, was detained at Islamabad airport on her return from London.

    Upon her arrival in Islamabad, she was informed that her name had been placed on the “Exit Control List”, which imposes a ban on her from traveling outside the country.

    September 27, 2018

    Pakistan’s authorities must ensure that the criminal justice system is not used to harass or intimidate journalists, Amnesty International said today.

    The human rights organization raised its concern after the Lahore High Court’s decision to issue non-bailable arrest warrants for prominent Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida and impose a ban on his traveling outside the country.

    Cyril Almeida, Assistant Editor at Dawn newspaper, has been summoned by the court for conducting an interview in May 2018 with former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is facing charges of treason for comments he made in the interview alleging a link between the Pakistani military and armed groups.

    June 14, 2018

    The Pakistani authorities must end the current crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other members of the civil society and ensure that human rights are fully respected and protected in the lead up to next month’s general elections, Amnesty International said today.

    On 25 July 2018, in general elections held across the country, Pakistanis will elect their next civilian government. Amnesty International is alarmed by the ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, attacks on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    “Key freedoms are under relentless attack in Pakistan, with the authorities cracking down on dissent, whether it takes place on the streets, on television news channels, in newspaper columns, or on social media,” said Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy Director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

    Detentions of protestors, journalists and human rights defenders

    May 15, 2018

    Human rights defenders in Pakistan are under threat from a targeted campaign of digital attacks, which has seen social media accounts hacked and computers and mobile phones infected with spyware, a four-month investigation by Amnesty International reveals.

    In a new report released today, “Human Rights Under Surveillance: Digital Threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan”, Amnesty International reveals how attackers are using fake online identities and social media profiles to ensnare Pakistani human rights defenders online and mark them out for surveillance and cybercrime.

    “We uncovered an elaborate network of attackers who are using sophisticated and sinister methods to target human rights activists. Attackers use cleverly designed fake profiles to lure activists and then attack their electronic devices with spyware, exposing them to surveillance and fraud and even compromising their physical safety," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 12, 2018

    Asma Jahangir was a brave champion of human rights who leaves behind a powerful legacy, Amnesty International said today, mourning the 66-year-old Pakistani lawyer’s sudden death in Lahore on Sunday.

    “For decades, Asma bravely fought for the most disadvantaged people in Pakistan, often at great personal risk. She championed the cause of women, children, bonded labourers, religious minorities, journalists, the disappeared, and so many others. She confronted injustice wherever she saw it,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    Asma Jahangir began leading protests as young schoolgirl. At the age of 18, she fought for the release of her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, who had been arbitrarily detained by the military government of Gen. Yahya Khan, leading to an historic Supreme Court judgment.

    A lawyer by training, Asma Jahangir and her sister, Hina Jilani, established Pakistan’s first all women legal firm in Lahore. Their clients included Christians facing death sentences on blasphemy charges, bonded labourers who had fled the oppressive grip of feudal landowners, and women who faced violence at home.

    January 10, 2018

    The attacks on Taha Siddiqui and other Pakistani journalists must be immediately and effectively investigated by the authorities, Amnesty International said today, calling for an end to impunity for such attacks.

    Taha Siddiqui was driving to Islamabad airport at 8:20am today when the car he was traveling in was besieged by at least 10 armed men, who beat him, threatened to kill him, and tried to abduct him. The journalist escaped the assailants, but they took his possessions, including his passport, laptop and mobile phone.

    “The beating and attempted abduction of Taha Siddiqui is the latest in a deeply worrying pattern of attacks on journalists in Pakistan. This is the third case in recent months when a journalist has been targeted by violent attackers while traveling by car. There has thus far been a failure by the authorities to identify the perpetrators, let alone bring them to justice,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

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