Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Eulogy of Pakistan’s Abdul Sattar Edhi, “the richest poor man”

July 11, 2017

edhi

Farah Jamil published on 10 July 2017 a blog post “The Richest Poor Man” recalling the life of the great humanitarian Abdul Sattar Edhi from Pakistan. Leading humanitarian and the most endearing person in the country. ‘Edhi’ left us at the age of 88 last year on July 8. He had been suffering from kidney failure since 2013 and was on dialysis. Edhi dedicated his life for the welfare of the poor irrespective of their caste, class and creed and that’s what makes him an asset for the whole universe. “He was not only an asset for this country but for the whole humanity because of his selfless work”.

It was in 1974 when a formal institution by the name of Edhi Foundation was set up. …..with more than 1,800 ambulances stationed across Pakistan, the Edhi Foundation is Pakistan’s largest welfare organization.  In 1997, the foundation entered the Guinness World Records as the “largest volunteer ambulance organization”. The Edhi Foundation’s slogan is: “Live and help live”.….

Edhi Sahab received many national and international awards included the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service, Lenin Peace Prize, Hamdan Award for volunteers, Peace and Harmony Award (Delhi), Peace Award (Mumbai), Gandhi Peace Award (Delhi), UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize.

Throughout his life, Edhi sahab set examples for the world to follow through his actions. He was a simple man with a heart of gold. He slept in a windowless room adjoining the office of his foundation furnished with just a bed, a sink and a hotplate.…..

His last words were:

–Bury me in same clothes, donate all my body parts, and make sure my clothes are distributed among others.

—Take care of the poor people of my country.

…….Edhi sahib, you indeed were the richest poor man!

Source: #MainEdhiHun: The Richest Poor Man | SAMAA TV

Five Asian human rights defenders speak about anti-torture work in their region

February 2, 2017

The weekly video service of Just Asia of 26 January 2017 is a special focus on the regional meeting of Asian Parliamentarians & Human Rights Defenders Against Torture, held in Hong Kong in December. During the meeting focusing on modernizing criminal institutions, Just Asia interviewed several parliamentarians and human rights defenders.

Just Asia speaks to Dr. P. M. Nair, Chair Professor at the TATA Social Sciences Institute. According to Dr. Nair, institutions need to work together in India to combat torture, and he is confident that once this occurs, things will improve quickly. Dr. Nair also noted the importance of persons implementing laws and regulations to have a human rights perspective, which would particularly help vulnerable and marginalized sections of society.

Just Asia interviews Pakistani Member of National Assembly Imran Zafar Laghari, to learn his views on the rising incidents of torture and corruption in the policing and judicial systems.

In Nepal, the February 2017 deadline for the transitional justice commissions to complete their work is fast approaching. However, other than collecting over 60,000 complaints and starting preliminary investigations, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons (CIEDP) have not succeeded in anything meaningful. Meanwhile, Nepal’s Anti-torture legislation is pending in the Parliament. With Colonel Kumar Lama being released by the UK court, there are nominal chances for the Parliament to pass the anti-torture legislation and put it into practice. Just Asia speaks to Mr. Dipendra Jha, a practicing lawyer at the Supreme Court of Nepal, for his views.

Indonesia also faces a rise in executions and the use of the death penalty. At the same time, the revision of the country’s penal code has been ongoing for over a decade. Member of the drafting committee and parliamentarian Mr. Arsul Sani speaks about his views on the penal code revision process and rule of law in Indonesia.

Bangladesh has seen considerable violence and political manipulation in the last year. Dr. Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of Citizens for Good Governance shares with Just Asia his views on free and fair elections and the Bangladesh electoral system.

See also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/01/16/amila-sampath-the-man-behind-the-video-service-of-just-asia/

For comments write to: news@ahrc.asia.

2017 (3): HRW reminds world of continuing repression of minorities and their defenders

January 20, 2017

On 12 January 2017, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its World Report on global human rights violations in 2016 and on the dangers the world will be facing in 2017. HRW shines its spotlight on the global rise of authoritarian populism and the concomitant toughening and broadening of anti-terrorism legislation around the world, which endangered throughout 2016 – and must be expected to keep challenging in 2017 – the very foundations of human rights law and the personal dignity inherent in every human being just as much as the despicable extremist attacks, to which they are a direct reaction.

Below the UNPO‘s (stand for the UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION) reading of the report which notes with satisfaction that HRW does not neglect to emphasize in its country reports the persisting human rights abuses directed against indigenous peoples and ethnic and religious minorities around the world, but also sees some shortcomings (from its own perspective): Read the rest of this entry »

Re-appearance of Abdul Wahid Baloch in Pakistan after four months!

December 8, 2016

abdul-wahid-balochRe-appearances after a time lapse of 4 months are rare. So this case in Pakistan deserves a mention: Abdul Wahid Baloch is a human rights defender who has called for justice for the Baloch community through the organisation of campaigns, protests and public condemnation of a number of high profile cases. Human rights defenders that have demanded justice for state violations against the Baloch community have been regarded as being anti-state by the Pakistani authorities.  On the morning of 5 December 2015, Abdul Wahid Baloch returned to his house in Karachi, roughly four months after his disappearance on 26 July 2016. Abdul Wahid Baloch thanked human rights groups, media and individuals who campaigned for his release but refused to comment on anything involving his disappearance.

Source: Abdul Wahid Baloch | Front Line Defenders

For another post on repression of the Baloch: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2014/04/07/intimidation-against-human-rights-defender-nasrullah-baloch-in-pakistan/

Interview with Hina Jilani, first UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders

November 9, 2016

hina-jilani-biography-1_940x430The Diplomatic Courier of 9 November 2016 carries a long and serious interview with Hina Jilani, First UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders (2000-2008). In 2006, she was appointed to the UN International Fact-Finding Commission on Darfur, Sudan.  In 2009, she served on the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict. In 2013, she joined The Elders, a group of world leaders and human rights leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela. A preeminent lawyer, Hina Jilani co-founded the first all women law firm in Pakistan and the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Hina Jilani has been in the forefront of human rights in Pakistan beginning from Zia Ul-Haq’s dictatorship in the 1970s.

 You served as the first mandate holder of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders from 2000 to 2008 and shaped that seminal mandate. Please tell us some of the key aspects of that mandate?
Photo by The Elders.

HJ: Respect for human rights necessarily includes recognition of the legitimacy of the work of defenders. As a response to the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on human rights defenders in 1998. On the one hand this was recognition of the dangers that human rights defenders confront and, on the other, a step taken by the international community to create norms for the protection of human rights activity. The Declaration makes it the primary responsibility of the State not only to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders, but also to ensure that conditions exist in which they can carry out their activities.  The mandate to oversee the implementation of the Declaration was established by the UN Secretary General in 2000. The mandate required the SRSG seek, receive examine and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders and to establish cooperation and conduct dialogue with Governments and other interested actors on the promotion and effective implementation of the Declaration as well as on improving the protection of human rights defenders.

In a world where there is rising violent extremism and heightened crackdown on human rights defenders, please share some key challengers of human rights defenders around the world?

HJ: Establishing promoting and sustaining democracy, maintaining international peace and security and providing or advancing a people oriented agenda for development cannot be accomplished without the contributions that human rights defenders make. Defenders bring to the fore information on the realities of situations to be addressed without which national and international efforts would be ineffective. They contribute to poverty alleviation, humanitarian assistance, post-conflict reconstruction, and to improving individual indicators of development such as access to health care and adult literacy, among many other activities. In situations of crises, defenders can monitor an overall situation, rapidly investigate allegations of possible violations and report their conclusions, providing a measure of accountability. They also provide the international community with some independent verification of what is actually happening within an emergency situation, informing the process of taking decisions on possible actions. This was not easily done. Human rights defenders have suffered harm and face grievous threats to their life, liberty, security, independence and credibility. State apparatus, oppressive laws and other tools of repression continue to be used against defenders in attempts to deter them from the valuable work they contribute to the promotion of human rights. Human rights defenders all over the world continue to be subjected to assassinations, disappearances, illegal arrest and detention, torture, harassment and even exile.

 

……Can you speak of Blasphemy laws that target minority Muslim populations in Pakistan?  How did you face death threats and attacks on your family because of your struggles against Blasphemy laws and other human rights atrocities in an environment of impunity?

What are called “blasphemy laws” in Pakistan are provisions introduced in the Pakistan Penal Code by Zia’s regime, ostensibly to enforce respect for Islamic personalities and the Holy Quran. In reality this was a ploy to instill fear in the population. One particular provision disregards fundamental principles of criminal justice and makes mens rea irrelevant to a finding of guilt. It also prescribes a mandatory death sentence upon conviction. The law is not only flawed in legal aspects it has been used for malicious prosecution and has targeted religious minorities – not just non-Muslims, but also different minority sects of Muslims in Pakistan. Special laws were promulgated to restrict the freedom of religion of the Ahmediya community in Pakistan, that still remains a persecuted and threatened community in Pakistan. Any one raising their voice against this law is exposed to extreme violence at the hands of organized religious terrorists, who operate with impunity in Pakistan. The State has been both unwilling and unable to perform its duty to protect in cases where people are either threatened or have actually been harmed by these groups. Lawyers defending those who are accused of blasphemy, judges who have acquitted the accused persons and public figures who have pointed out the flaws in the law or the political and malicious use of the law have been killed. There is an apparent policy of silencing criticism through fear. There are, therefore, only a few voices that continue to be raised and these are people who remain extremely vulnerable to harm.

…….What is your advice to the new Secretary General of the United Nations?

HJ: The work of the United Nations for promoting peace and improving security of people living in different parts of the world can not be completed without due attention to the respect for human rights, the UN must ensure better coordination of its political and human rights policies and strategies. I would also strongly recommend that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council seriously consider making reference to the protection of human rights defenders and to the importance and legitimacy of their work in all their resolutions relating to the maintenance of peace and security. None such resolution so far mentions this very critical aspect of the protection and promotion of human rights…

For earlier posts on Jina Jilani: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/hina-jilani/

Source: Interview with Hina Jilani, First UN Special Representative for Human Rights Defenders – Diplomatic Courier

Pakistani Digital activist Nighat Dad recipient of 2016 Human Rights Tulip

November 6, 2016

The 2016 Human Rights Tulip has been awarded to the Pakistani internet activist Nighat Dad stated the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs today, 6 November 2016.

Human Rights Tulip
Human Rights Tulip Photo: Aad Meijer/Newsroom BZ

The Human Rights Tulip is an annual prize awarded by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to human rights defenders who take an innovative approach to promoting human rights. The prize consists of a bronze sculpture (see picture above) and €100,000, which is intended to enable recipients to further develop their work. [for last year’s award: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/2015-human-rights-tulip-awarded-to-ira-mauritania/]

Human rights defenders are modern-day heroes,’ said minister Bert Koenders ‘Despite the many threats she has received, Nighat Dad continues to fight to improve adherence to human rights in Pakistan in a unique and innovative way. Ms Dad is a pioneer who is working to remove everyday obstacles to internet access, especially those that affect women.

Ms Dad is a staunch defender of digital rights and the importance of protecting women and girls and marginalised groups on social media. Mr Koenders hopes that this prize will serve as a gesture of support for the freedom of internet users, especially women. In 2012 Ms Dad founded the Digital Rights Foundation, which supports female internet users in the form of digital security training courses, public awareness campaigns and the newly created Cyber Harassment Helpline. Ms Dad’s approach enables her to reach women throughout Pakistan, including those in more remote areas of the country. She was awarded the Atlantic Council Digital Freedom Award 2016 and was among six ‘next generation leaders’ named by TIME Magazine last year.

Foreign minister Bert Koenders will present her with the prize on Saturday 10 December, Human Rights Day, in The Hague.

For earlier posts on the Tulip award: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/tulip-award/

Source: Nighat Dad recipient of 2016 Human Rights Tulip | News item | Government.nl

http://www.dawn.com/news/1294671/pakistani-digital-rights-activist-nighat-dad-awarded-2016-human-rights-tulip-award

Iftikhar Mubarik, discusses his work addressing child exploitation in Pakistan

September 26, 2016

 

Human right defender, Iftikhar Mubarik, discusses his work addressing child exploitation in Pakistan and how he seeks to utilise the UN Human Rights system.

 

https://www.ishr.ch/news/human-rights-defender-profile-iftikhar-mubarik-pakistan

Imran Anjum in Pakistan called a ‘blasphemer’ for caring about brick makers

June 2, 2016

imran_anjum

Imran Anjum is a human rights defender from the city of Sahiwal, Punjab province in Pakistan. He is the Founder and the Executive Director of Peaceful & Active Center for Humanity (PEACH), a non-governmental organisation working on the social and economic development of some of the most disadvantaged communities in Pakistan. Imran Anjum is directly involved in the provision of legal aid to people from these communities and carries out advocacy work on the rights of bonded labourers, including child labourers and brick kiln workers. Currently, PEACH is running a campaign across the Punjab province aimed at raising awareness among brick kiln workers about their rights.

On 20 May 2016, a group of brick kiln owners displayed banners around the city of Gojra, Punjab province, calling human rights defender Mr Imran Anjum ‘a blasphemer‘ and insisting on his execution. These threats follow an attack on 9 May 2016, when Imran Anjum, along with two of his colleagues, was travelling home to Sahiwal from a conference in Gojra devoted to the protection of the rights of brick kiln workers. Two people on motorbikes chased his car, forcibly stopped him, dragged him and his colleagues out of the vehicle and threatened them at gunpoint. They said that they would kill the human rights defender and his colleagues if they did not stop their labour rights work or if they went back to Gojra.Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-imran-anjum

Mubashir Naqvi writes a requiem for Pakistani human rights defender Khurram Zaki

May 18, 2016

Mubashir Naqvi wrote on 17 May 2016 a personal account of his last meeting with the recently-murdered Pakistani human rights defender Khurram Zaki [see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/pakistan-killing-zaki-non-progress-perveen-rehman-impunity/]:

Read the rest of this entry »

Pakistan: the recent killing of Zaki and the non-progress in the case of Perveen Rehman

May 10, 2016

Pakistan remains one to the worst places for human rights defenders as they are threatened by both religious extremists and powerful economic interests, while the State is either unwilling or too weak to stop this trend. A recent example is that of human rights defender Khurram Zaki who was killed on 7 May 2016 by four unidentified gunmen who opened fire at a restaurant in Karachi, killing him and wounding two others. That government efforts to find the killers are unlikely to yield result is shown in the follow-up in the case of human rights defender Perveen Rehman, who was killed on 13 March 2013 (see below). Read the rest of this entry »