PAKISTAN: The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns violence unleashed by the military regime leading to killing of 30 persons in Pakistan

May 13, 2007

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns violence unleashed by the military regime leading to killing of 30 persons in Pakistan

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) condemns the violence unleashed on peaceful protestors by the military dictator in Karachi, Pakistan which has resulted in heavy loss of life. The violence against the protest march on 12 May in Pakistan is raising further alarm about the already deteriorated legal and administrative system hitting bottom hard. Presently it is the loss of over more than 30 lives. The aim such action is for General Musharaf is to claim five more years in power without hindrance from judiciary.

The stalemate between the self-declared president – Mr. Musharaf and the people struggling to bring meaning to justice has taken a decisive turn. This is one of the worst violent occurrences in the whole struggle for the basic human rights of the people which is been systematically denied for long.

Fair trial and independence of judiciary are the foundation of any civilised nation and the birth right of every individual. Interestingly, in a speech yesterday Mr. Musharaf expressed that, “…let the judiciary be independent and stop putting pressure and wait for verdict,” He also added that “…your slogan of judicial independence is also my slogan”.

The General is talking the language of co-option. He is trying to earn legitimacy by declaring his objective as the same of the protestors. Ironically this is the words of a person who summoned a serving Chief Justice to military barracks and sacked him in the most arbitrary manner. A person who has shown utmost disrespect to the independence of judiciary is now claiming to be its apostle. A conversion drama, faster than that of Paul en route Damascus.

As news reports are coming in, the manipulative role of the dictator is being exposed. The General who assumed power by a show of might disregarding peoples’ choice and throwing democracy out from the country is now facing the reality that there is a limit to peoples’ tolerance.

The General is trying to infiltrate into the people’s movement by using factions loyal to him. In such an attempt he is also allegedly using military officers and the criminals at the same time to open fire at protesting people. An administration which is commanded by such a person obviously did nothing. Proving his talent to subvert fundamental rights equally by clever and crude means, the General soon appeared in public in civilian dress. The General in his speech has conspicuously refrained from making any reference to the state and the administration, he allegedly commands and its role in the current crisis. Instead the dictator has tried to trivialise the peoples’ protest as a fight between the government’s supporters and a disgraced judge. There was not a word about what action would be taken against those who fired at the protesting crowd.

In a county like Pakistan, where the legal and justice system has already collapsed, violence could be further conveniently used by the General to declare harsher forms of oppression. This is the worst tactic that could be employed by any ruler. A dictator who has procured a safe haven by buying properties outside Pakistan has parallels in the region in Myanmar and Nepal. For the lesser mortals in Pakistan it is Pakistan and nowhere else.

The people when pressed hard beyond a breaking point is justified in protesting against the oppressor. Thousands have taken to the streets to demonstrate their discontent against an Army General who has played all cards available, ranging from religion to security in an attempt to remain in power. The people of Pakistan protesting against such a dictator and his armed cronies need support and solidarity.

It is the legal and the moral obligation of the civil society to respond to the cry for help from Pakistan. The struggle in Pakistan has reached the turning point capable enough to change the destiny of a nation. The clarion call by the mass struggling for democracy, independence of judiciary, rule of law and human rights is already made. Now it is the duty of the international community to respond to the call.

The AHRC calls for immediate investigation into the firing incident and prosecution of the criminals. The AHRC calls for restoration of democracy in Pakistan for which General Musharaf must step down and the army must be returned to the barracks. The dismissed Chief Justice must be immediately reinstated to office. The United Nations agencies and the international communities need to condemn the killings, the unleashing of the violence against the peaceful protest and the displacement of the legal process. It is their obligation to insist on ensuring an inquiry into the killings and to bring an end to the ongoing violence.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-100-2007
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Military, State of emergency & martial law,