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Pakistan

    May 21, 2020

    Muhammad Idris Khattak via Twitter

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 159/19 HERE

    The whereabouts of Muhammad Idris Khattak, a 56-year-old Pakistani father, human rights defender and independent researcher, remain unknown since he was forcibly disappeared by men in plain clothes on 13 November 2019. 

    Muhammad Idris Khattak is a human rights defender and former consultant with Amnesty International. As an independent researcher, he has documented human rights violations faced by people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

    The health of Idris Khattak is at even greater risk during the COVID-19 outbreak for two reasons: the conditions of his detention remain unknown and he is a patient of diabetes requiring daily medication. With no information about his fate for six months, his daughters Shumaisa and Talia fear that Idris Khattak is at real risk of torture or ill-treatment and are terrified that the worst has happened to their father.

    March 26, 2020
    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 39/20 HERE

    An inmate at Camp Jail, with a prison population of 3,500 people, in the provincial capital Lahore tested positive for coronavirus before being transferred to a medical facility. Prisons in Punjab face massive overcrowding, with limited hygiene supplies and insufficient access to healthcare. Given the overcrowding, enforcing inmates to practice social distancing would be impossible, drastically increasing the potential for the virus to spread. Pakistani authorities must protect the health of all prisoners and should urgently consider measures to reduce the prison population. Should the government fail to act now, Pakistani prisons and detention centers could become hotspots for the transmission of coronavirus. 

    Jails in Punjab are worryingly overcrowded, meaning social distancing is not an option for prisoners. Unsanitary conditions mean that preventative steps such as washing hands are harder to follow. 

    January 17, 2020

    B-r-e-a-t-h-e.  That was difficult for the residents of Lahore, Pakistan on 21 November 2019. The Air Quality Index hit 598, twice the ‘hazardous’ level which begins at 300. Within hours, Amnesty International issued its first Urgent Action focusing directly on climate change. The UA argued that the government’s failure to adequately protect people from exposure to the toxic air puts their human rights at risk, including their rights to health and life.

    The Urgent Action generated worldwide media – and success! On 30 November, Prime Minister Imran Khan convened a press conference to announce what steps the government would take to curb emissions. The Minister for Climate Change then sent a letter to Amnesty International: “I want to assure you that our Ministry is committed to play its role for shifting the landscape in Pakistan towards a cleaner, greener and sustainable future and particularly targeting the growing challenge of air pollution and climate change.”

    Learn more about the Urgent Action Network here! 

    November 21, 2019
    Air quality in Lahore measured at nearly twice “hazardous” level Amnesty International issues first “Urgent Action” for entire population of a major city Pakistan government accused of downplaying crisis

    In an unprecedented step, Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action for the people of Lahore in a bid to mobilize its supporters around the world to campaign on behalf of the entire population due to the hazardous smog engulfing Pakistan’s second largest city.

    The “Urgent Action” raises concerns about how the poor air quality poses a risk to the health of every person in the Pakistani city of more than 10 million people.

    “The government’s inadequate response to the smog in Lahore raises significant human rights concerns. The hazardous air is putting everyone’s right to health at risk,” said Rimmel Mohydin, South Asia Campaigner at Amnesty International.

    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

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