Civil society condemns continuous violations of human rights

KARACHI: Leaders of various major civil society organisations have demanded withdrawal of `fake` cases against political, labour and human rights activists and also an immediate halt to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Speaking at a press conference in the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, leaders of the National Trade Union Federation (NTUF), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Home-Based Women Workers Federation (HBWWF) and other civil society organisations called for release of the activists arrested during the recent sit-in in Islamabad and acceptance of their demands.

They warned the government that use of blind state force against civil liberties could lead to serious consequences.

They voiced their concern over violationof constitutional rights of citizens during recent protests against extrajudicial killings of Baloch youths in Turbat, torture of protesters by police and arrest of marchers in Islamabad, as well as an attack on their camp by unknown assailants.

Police have booked four rights activists Saeed Baloch, Nasir Mansoor, Abdul Wahab Baloch and Illahi Bakhsh Bikak along with around 240-260 people in an `abetting mutiny` case after they held a rally outside KPC over the weekend to express solidarity with the Baloch people, who were holding a protest in Islamabad against cases of`enforced disappearances` in Balochistan.

`For us, the press club is like London`s Hyde Park, but when our colleagues raised their voice against excesses by the Islamabad police, cases were registered against them and the authorities tried to suppress their voices,` said HRCP chairman Asad Iqbal Butt.

`The state is not willing to give fundamental rights to citizens as enshrined in the Constitution … those who are violating fundamental rights of citizens are leading the country towards anarchy,` he added.

Anees Haroon, chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, told journalists that peaceful participants of the Islamabad march werebeaten up and water cannons were used to disperse them as if they were an enemy force, adding that their only demand was that they should be informed as to why their loved-ones had been killed in police custody.

Karachi Bar Association (KBA) president Aamir Waraich said: `Even today, we are living in slavery,` adding that the state must listen to the voices of the oppressed people. He also said that the KBA stood with rights activists who were booked in the case of abetting mutiny. He said the KBA was ready to provide legal assistance to them.

`The culture of silence is prevailing even at the press club. Today, the purpose of speaking here is to raise our voice against this illegal act,` Dr Asghar Dashti, chairman of Federal Urdu University`s IR department, said.

Speaking about missing persons, Muhib Azad, general secretary of the Sindh Sujhag Forum, revealed that when he had submitted a petition for [the recovery of] a missing person, he himself was made a `missing person` for a few days.

The others who spoke at the press conference included Zehra Khan, Dr Riaz Shaikh, Dr Tauseef Ahmed, Abdul Khalig Zardan, Gul Rehman and Shafiq Sheikh.

They condemned harassment of political and social activists as well as journaliststhrough various institutions. They expressed their concern over continuous violation of the Constitution and basic norms of democracy in the incidents ofenforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, mass arrests and implication of protesters in fake cases, especially Baloch people.

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