PAKISTAN: A human rights activist Fr. Arnold Heredia was detained.



January 13, 2001 


Fr. Arnold Heredia (60), former Executive Secretary of the Committee for Justice & Peace Karachi, was among 17 protestors arrested and detained in Karachi at 4.00 p.m. on 10 January, 2001. As of the time of writing, an application for their release on bail has not been accepted. Two other Christian laymen, Aslam Martin and Riaz Nawab, are among the detainees. 

Fr. Arnold was taking part in an anti-“Blasphemy Laws” protest held under the auspices of the All Faith Spiritual Movement in Karachi. Fr. Arnold Heredia has served in human rights organizations for over two decades and he is respected in the civil society. The lower court has ordered a physical remand of the detainees until January 16th, 2001. 

In a press statement issued on January 11, 2001 the National Commission for Justice & Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan expressed deep concern over the use of brutal force (baton charging & tear gas) against a peaceful procession and the detention of the peaceful protestors. It said that the “act of the administration is gruesome and their action unjustified because the procession was totally peaceful and exercised their constitutional right of expression.” 

The anger of the people against the “Blasphemy Laws” is genuine and based on the witnessing of people being murdered, their properties looted, their places of worship destroyed and people being forced to leave the country. 


Please write polite letters to express your concern about this case; request for the immediate and unconditional release of the detainees; urge for a withdrawal of all false charges; and repeal the “Blasphemy Laws”. 

Send letters to: 
H.E. Pervaiz Musharaf, Chief Executive of Pakistan 
Chief Executive’s Secretariat, Islamabad, Pakistan 
Fax: 92-51-927 0205 

Send copies to: 
1. Gen. (R) Moin Uddin Haider 
The Interior Minister, Islamabad, Pakistan 
Fax: 92-51-9202642 

2. Mian Mohammad Sumro 
Governor of Sindh 
Governor House, Karachi, Pakistan 
Fax: 92-21-9201218 

3. Diplomatic Representatives of Pakistan in your country. 

***Please refer to our offices (by telephone, fax or email) or our website for prior advice if you are only able to take action after Tuesday the 16th of January 2001. We also urge you to prepare for further requests for action on this case. 

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


We write with deep concern about the arrest and detention of Fr. Arnold Heredia (60) and 17 protesters who participated in a peaceful assembly to express their views against the “Blasphemy Laws”. The assembly took place in Empress Market Karachi on 10 January, 2001 and was peaceful until the authorities violently intervened. 

We request you to immediately and unconditionally release all the detainees and withdraw all false charges against them. 

We humbly express the view that the “Blasphemy Laws” violate international standards for justice and human rights. Therefore we urge you repeal these laws. 

*** Please avoid typing ‘cc ACPP’ at the end of your letter and send copies to us separately for monitoring purpose. Thank You for Your Continued Support. 


The protest was organized by the All Faiths Spiritual Movement including, Tehrik-e- Jafaria, Berailvi Tehrik and Anjuman -e- Sarfroshan-e-Islam (various Muslim Sects and organizations) who have also been victimized by the “Blasphemy Laws”. 

Around 300 protestors had gathered at the Empress Market Karachi on 10 January 2001 carrying placards demanding an end to the exploitation and the misuse of religion. The protestors were peacefully listening to a speech by Mr. Tanvir Hussain, when the police launched their action on the gathering. The protestors were kicked and beaten severely with, batons and rifle butts, resulting in injuries to many of them. 

They have been charged with following offences under Pakistan Penal Code (PPC): 

Section of PPC Nature of Offence Punishment/Imprisonment 

147 Rioting 2 years or a fine or both 
148 Riot/armed with weapon 3 Years or a fine or both 
149 Un-lawful Assembly According to the gravity 
151 Violation of orders to disperse 6 months or a fine or both 
152 Obstructing public servant 3Months or a fine or both 
352 Assault or use of criminal Force 3 monthsor a fine or both 
324 Attempt to Murder 10year or a fine 
337-4 Willful assault 10 Years or a fine or both 

The Blasphemy law in Pakistan came into existance by introducing amendments to colonial Criminal Law dating back to1860. It was modified in 1926 before Pakistan was born, and again as recently as in 1986 and in 1991 when criminal law was Islamicised by the then dictatorship. Now, under the regime of Islamic punishments, the evidence required is ‘at least two Muslim adult male witnesses who are supposed to be truthful persons who abstain from major sins’. It is required at the trial that the Presiding officer must be a Muslim. Islamic law of evidence declares that the evidence recorded by minorities and women has a status inferior to that of Muslim men. 

For more information about the “Blasphemy Laws”, please refer to UA001101(16) and our website. 

Yours sincerely, 
Kata Lee 
Project Coordinator 
Hotline Asia 

Hotline is a service for Justice and Peace irrespective of class, race, religion, culture and political affiliation. We issue “Urgent appeals” (UAs) on request from our network. As you receive UAs free, we welcome contributions towards postage costs. 
Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples 
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Tel: (852) 2712 3989 / 2714 5123 Fax: (852) 2711 3545 
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Document ID : FA-01-2001
Countries : Pakistan,
Campaigns : Blasphemy Law in Pakistan
Issues : Arbitrary arrest & detention,