Dr. Yakin Ertürk
United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
1211 Geneva 10
Fax: +41 22 917 9016
Dear Dr. Ertürk
Re: The burial of five women while
We are bringing to your notice the burial of five women from a tribal area while still alive in Baba Kot, a remote village 80 kilometers from Usta Mohammad City, Jafferabad district, Balochistan province. The names of the women are Mrs. Fatima, 45, Ms. Jannet Bibi, 38, and the younger girls between 16 to 18 years of age, Hameeda, Raheema. and Ms. Fauzia.
These burials took place on the 14th July, 2008. The cause of such brutal treatment was regarding the proposed marriages of the three younger women which the tribal leaders opposed.
The fact of the burials is no longer in dispute. The matter was debated in the Senate, the National Assembly of Pakistan and the provincial Assembly of Sindh. The countrys reputed organisations including a human rights organisation have confirmed the incident.
In fact, in the Senate, a Senator tried to defend these burials. Senator Israrullah Zehri stated that the killings were part of the tribal traditions and that no one should say anything in the Upper House about the incident. This statement was severely criticised by several other senators and also by many organisations and the media.
A problem, however, is that despite this heinous crime being revealed no action has been taken to conduct credible criminal investigations into the matter by the competent authorities. There is a widely held belief that after reports are requested from various persons, who are unlikely to investigate or report on the matter truthfully, these burials will be forgotten.
There is a culture of impunity and an culture of intimidation in Pakistan. The tribal people are ruled through ruthless systems of suppression. Under these circumstances only a very determined attempt on the part of the United Nations and the international community would achieve a result in the efforts made by many persons and organisations to publicise these gruesome killings and to bring this type of practice to an end.
On the basis of your mandate to deal with violence against women we urge you to effectively intervene in this matter. It is rarely that this extent of violence as the live burials of women comes to light. On such heinous crimes we expect that you would exercise your mandate firmly to have this matter investigated, the perpetrators brought to justice and that effective legislative measures are brought to end such practices.
Such heinous and barbaric practices continue because the system of power within these areas is maintained through the intimidation of women. Therefore a special report from your office into the tribal practices such as violence against women in these areas and such burials would help a great deal to alleviate the sufferings of the women and those who suffer from similar practices elsewhere. Your intervention with the government of Pakistan on all these issues is likely to find support from everyone and particularly the womens movements throughout the world.
For further information kindly see our statements at: PAKISTAN: Five women buried alive, allegedly by the brother of a minister – http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2008/2969/, PAKISTAN: Bodies of the five women buried alive desecrated by the wild animals – http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1654/ and the statement of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan – http://www.dawn.com/2008/09/01/local11.htm.
MOON Jeong Ho
Asian Human Rights Commission