Saturday, March 6, 2010

PAKISTAN: Online petition on forced disappearances

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE
AHRC-PRL-007-2010

PAKISTAN: Online petition on forced disappearances

Hong Kong, March 5, 2010

The Asian Human Rights Commission today launched an on line petition and web site on the issue of enforced disappearances in Pakistan to urge the President of Pakistan to ensure the immediate recovery of all the disappeared persons from all parts of the country including from Pakistani Kashmir, the Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit and Baltistan.

The petitioners are urged to sign the petition and leave comments on line. The petition will be submitted to President of Pakistan and other authorities.

The forced disappearance of political opponents which are attributed to the state intelligence services continues in spite of the newly elected government's claims that they will swiftly deal with this problem. Since the Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) came to power one year ago, no serious or credible steps have been taken to address these disappearances. The state intelligence agencies are operating in opposition to the government's efforts. In fact, since April 2008 and during the first year of the newly elected government, more than 350 persons have been disappeared after arrest. Meanwhile officers of the state intelligence agencies claim that they have been excused from the obligation of attending courts to give evidence due to reasons of national security.

The government of Pakistan is failing to take credible steps to probe cases of disappearances that have been ongoing for decades in the country. The Asian Human Rights Commission has repeatedly brought the problem of disappearances in Pakistan, which is amongst the highest numbers of such cases in Asia, before the authorities in Pakistan as well as before the international communities. But the seriousness of the government of Pakistan can be judged by the fact that it has not taken any initiative.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) agencies are suspected by the families of the disappeared of carrying out the arrest and disappearances of thousands of people since the start of the 'war on terror'. In the two years of the PPP's government only around a dozen people who were abducted have resurfaced, as claimed by the government, but there is no substantive evidence to prove the government’s claim.

In the province of Balochistan, there are reports of more than 4000 persons being missing after their arrest by the plain clothed persons from the state intelligence agencies. The nationalist group claim that around 8000 persons are missing. On the other hand chief minister of Balochistan has issued a list of 1100 missing persons. The government of Pakistan through its attorney general submitted a list of 1600 persons missing since 2005.

Over 168 children and 148 women are also missing and their names are in the official lists. The case of Zarina Baloch is worth mentioning as she was used as a sex slave in the military torture cell in Karachi, Sindh province. In the NWFP more than 1000 persons are missing including some officers from Pakistani army. The nationalist forces of Sindh province claim that about 100 persons have been disappeared and the same position from Punjab province where more than 200 persons are disappeared after their arrests.

By signing the petition every one can voice their disapproval and concerns about the forced disappearances and the impunity of the state intelligence agencies and law enforcing authorities. The name and other personal details will be kept confidential if required.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.



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