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Nisar Shah: The Human Rights Situation in Pakistan

The text of Nisar Shah’s (General Secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan) speech before the¬†United Nation Human Rights Council 19th session in Geneva Switzerland.

Presentation on ”Human Rights Situation in Pakistan”

You’re Excellency Mr. President, Panel of the speakers, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all I would like to thank Mr.President who gave me an opportunity to speak over ”Human rights violations in South Asia”. I am not going to speak for the whole south Asian region; but I would focus on Pakistan where I am working as an advocate, political activist and human rights defender. About this country, it is very much clear that a large number of the people are facing very serious human rights violations in different parts of the country by state and it’s supported non state actors.

The major problem of this country is that there is no rule of law and supremacy of the constitution, the democratic institutions have been weak since the creation of the country in 1947, nature of the state is religious theoretic, where the Islamic fundamentalist groups are working with the help of intelligence agencies.

A country of four provinces with a population of over 160 million, small nations of Pakistan have many grievances against the dominant Punjabis, who constitute majority in the only atomic country of the Islamic world. The people of Baluchistan, Sindh and Seriki areas are still deprived of their basic right-the right of self-determination. Their political, social, cultural and economic rights have also been ignored in the last 64 years. Hundreds of Baloch and Sindhi political workers have been kidnapped by intelligence agencies, many of them were later killed and their bodies were dumped.  Thousands of people are facing state repression in different areas of the country, especially in Baluchistan, Sindh, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.

The region of the Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are disputed territories between India and Pakistan from 65 year of the partition of sub-continent, still waiting for their right if complete independence from both countries. Due to their unidentified position the people of this region are facing very serious human rights violations. They are unable to enjoy their economic, political and social rights. The Pakistani-controlled Kashmir is called Azad mean an Independent Kashmir, which is totally a wrong perception in fact this area is ruled by military and civil bureaucracy of Pakistan , even the people who don’t want accession with Pakistan, they cannot participate in election because they have to sign the affidavit for the accession with Pakistan.
The religious minorities Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus’ and Shiites are facing the brutality of fundamentalist groups sponsored by state actor, these groups use the discriminatory laws against the minorities. Many people are facing trial under blasphemy law, One year ago Salmaan Taseer who was the governor of Punjab was assassinated by theses religious groups, his murderer Mumtaz Qadri has been turned into a hero by the religious parties of Pakistan. Despite being convicted of murder, he is enjoying first class standard inside the prison. The trial court judge has moved from the country due to the life threat. Four month ago Shabaz Taseer a young Son of Salmaan taseer kidnapped by religious fundamentalist groups, he is still in their illegal detention.

In the Province of Sindh Hindu community is continuously facing assaults by state and non-state religious groups. In November 2011 four Hindus doctors were killed in their clinic. According to a local Hindu leader Dr Kumar, this is not the first time that such an incident has taken place where members of his community have been targeted. The community concern is that the law enforcement agencies tend to support the criminals involved in such acts, they want to spark fears among the minority communities. The recent case of kidnapping and ‘forced’ marriage of Rinkle Kumari, a Pakistani Hindu girl, has made the minority Hindu community in Pakistan feel unsafe as they seek refuge in neighbouring India.

In Baluchistan, according to the human rights organisations, thousands of the people are missing. Most of them are under the enforced illegal detention of intelligence agencies. The case of these missing persons is under trial before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. After the order of Supreme Court some people were recovered from different areas. The underground military operation against the Bloch nationalists is still continuing.Independent human rights defender and media persons are not allowed to visit that area.

The Prime Minister of country is claiming that there is no political prisoner inside the prison, but in fact this is totally a false statement, many trade union leaders, political and human rights activist are in prisons and facing false charges under black law ”Anti-Terrorism Act ”which is normally used not against terrorist but political opponents.

There are many political prisoners in Pakistan. They include 13 members of Labour Party Pakistan. Baba Jan member federal committee LPP is in Gilgit jail. He is being tried under anti-terrorist laws. His “crime was to demand the just compensation for all the victims of the Atta Abad lake, an artificial lake that was the result of the climate change.Baba Jan’s “crime” was that he organized rallies and demonstrations against the killing by the police of two of the protesters who were demanding just compensation for every affectee of the Atta Abad Lake disaster. The hundreds of persons who protested these killings were brutalized by the law enforcement agencies including the police, Rangers and Northern Squad, a Para-military force. These forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protestors. After the incident, instead of arresting the police officers involved in the killings, a crackdown started in which in the neighbourhood of Aliabad 50 people were arrested under the Anti-Terrorist Act and 16 criminal cases were registered against Baba Jan alone. Six of the activists arrested are affiliated with the Labour Party Pakistan.

Faisalabad 6

There are nine industrial workers imprisoned in Faisalabad. Six of them are convicted by an anti-terrorist court to 590 years of total jail sentence. Power loom workers in Faisalabad in July 2010 went on a series of major strikes and demonstrations. Six of their leaders were arrested by the police. Once in detention, they were additionally charged under anti-terrorist legislation. This is a clear message of how “anti-terrorism” laws are used against workers struggling for a decent life.Six labour leaders Akbar Ali Kamboh, Babar Shafiq Randhawa, Fazal Elahi, Rana Riaz Ahmed Asghar Ali Insari and Aslam malik were arrested on July 22, 2010, by Faisalabad police after a strike called by power loom workers for a 17 percent increase in wages as per an announcement of the government. They were accused of burning down a factory during the strike. This was a fabricated charge. The arrests of the workers under terrorism charges and sentences by the court are the result of a well thought out campaign by the factory owners, district administration and local politicians against the rising power loom workers’ movement in Faisalabad.More than 100,000 power loom workers in Faisalabad district went on strike on July 20, 2010, for an increase of wages that had been announced by the government during the presentation of budget 2010-11. The government announced 17 percent rise in the minimum wage for the private sector workers.

Anti-terrorist laws are frequently used against protesting industrial workers in Punjab. Thirteen trade union leaders are facing such charges of terrorism. Their real crime is fighting for a better life for their members and demanding higher wages. The Punjab government is all out to crush any trade union movement in factories which is challenging their authority. Three other labour leaders were arrested later.

The Faisalabad workers are being singled out by the Punjab government because they are political and they are members of Labour Party Pakistan. Please demand the release of all these and other political prisoners in Pakistan.

We recommended an urgent intervention of international community to stop the serious human rights violation and an independent commission to observe the real situation.

Nisar Shah, General Secretary, Labour Party Pakistan

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