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PAKISTAN: The police pour acid into the anus of a young man as he was unable to pay a bribe

March 21, 2014

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-039-2014

21 March 2014

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PAKISTAN: The police pour acid into the anus of a young man as he was unable to pay a bribe

ISSUES: Torture, illegal detention, impunity
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a young man was severely tortured in police custody for not paying a bribe in a theft case. The police used acid in order to torture him and his elder brother to force them to pay a bribe. Traces of acid were found on the anus and back of the victim. The brother of the victim remains missing from the police station. The police, after the death of the victim, immediately shifted the body to a civil hospital and denied that he died in the station. The people of his village agitated because the high police officials falsely claimed that the investigation officer had been arrested. However, no case has yet been lodged against the police officials who tortured the young man to death and disappeared his brother.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Two young men, Mohammad Nawaz Lashari, 22, and Aijaz Lashari 25, were making and selling handmade “Reed made curtains” (sarkando ki Chiq) and hardly earning enough money to survive. On March 14, both the brothers were taken into custody on the charges of stealing a camel. They were detained in Sorah Police Station, Tehseel Nara, districts Khairpur Mirs, Sindh province, as revealed in one police First Information Report (FIR) lodged by a landlord. In the FIR the names of the two young men were not mentioned but the names of the suspects were. Two brothers from the Hasbani caste were mentioned while the name of the caste of the two arrested persons was Lashari. The names of the victims were also different from the actual names mentioned in police complaint. After discovering that they had caught the wrong persons, the officials asked the labourers to pay Rs. 50,000 (US Dollars 500) for their release and to persuade them to do so the police beat them.

They were tortured during the entire night of March 14. The next day they were again asked to pay the amount, or at least, Rs. 25,000 (US Dollar 250) which was not possible for them. During the next two days they went through severe torture, during which the police poured acid into the anus of Mohammad Nawaz Lashari who died as a result of this heinous torture in the early hours of March 17. The police shifted his body to the civil hospital (government hospital) of Khairpur Mirs in an attempt to show that he had died there.

The hospital authorities immediately conducted an autopsy and found injuries on his back, neck, face and chest and also the traces of acid on his back and anus and the alimentary canal. The body was handed over to the family and the people of the surrounding villages held a protest demonstration on the streets of Khairpur Mirs district for more than 12 hours. The high police officers of the district promised the demonstrators that the investing officer, Sub Inspector Amin Pathan, had been suspended and arrested. The police refused to mention the whereabouts of the co-accused, Aijaz Lashari. The family members of both the Lasharis are under threat from the police who want a settlement with the bereaved family.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Torture in custody is not considered a criminal offence in Pakistan. It is the policy of the state to perpetuate torture at large to spread fear in the society to control the people. In the country there is no law against torture and torturers are usually protected by the law. Though Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) in 2010, since then there was no serious efforts were made to criminalise torture. The purpose of perpetuating torture in the society is to use state power against powerless and poor people and usurp their fundamental rights. Pakistan is a country where the armed forces, including the army, air force and navy and also the state intelligence agencies are running torture cells with impunity. Every police station has its own private torture cell. Besides this, the Pakistan Rangers and Frontier Corps have large numbers of torture cells in almost every big city.

Every year thousands of suspects are tortured physically and mentally. Any person, who has beam taken into custody, whether on criminal or civil charges, is certain to go through torture. Not a single person from the law enforcement agencies has ever been arrested or prosecuted on the charges of torture.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the given addresses calling them to hold an enquiry in to the killing of a young man by police torture through pouring acid in to his anus. Please also urge them to:

- Produce his elder brother Mr. Aijaz Lashari who missing after the death of Mohammad Nawaz Lashari
- Prosecute the police officers for the torture and killing of a young man in the custody

The Government of Pakistan must pay compensation to the grieved family.
The AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture calling for his intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: The police pour acid into the anus of a young man as he was unable to pay a bribe

Name of victim: Mr. Mohammad Nawaz Lashari, 22, son of Ameer Bakhsh Lashari, resident of Rasool Bakhsh village, Nara Tehseel, district Khaipur Mirs, Sindh province and Mr. Aijaz Lashari 25, son of Ameer Bakhsh Lashari, resident of Rasool Bakhsh village, Nara Tehseel, district Khaipur Mirs, Sindh province
Names of alleged perpetrators: Sub Inspector of Police Amin Pathan, Sorah police station, Tehseel Nara, districts Khairpur Mirs, Sindh province, Station House Officer (SHO), Sorah police station, Tehseel Nara, districts Khairpur Mirs, Sindh province and Mr. Aijaz Shaikh, Senior Superintendent of Police, district Khairpur Mirs, Sindh
Date of incident: March 17, 2014
Place of incident: Sorah police station, Tehseel Nara, districts Khairpur Mirs, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the death of a young man by police torture and missing of brother of victim from police station after the death of his brother.

I am appalled to learn that the police tortured a young man and poured acid into his anus in an attempt to obtain a confession and get him to pay a bribe.

According to my information two young men, Mohammad Nawaz Lashari, 22, and Aijaz Lashari 25, were making and selling handmade “Reed made curtains” (sarkando ki Chiq) and hardly earning enough money to survive. On March 14, both the brothers were taken into custody on the charges of stealing a camel. They were detained in Sorah Police Station, Tehseel Nara, districts Khairpur Mirs, Sindh province, as revealed in one police First Information Report (FIR) lodged by a landlord. In the FIR the names of the two young men were not mentioned but the names of the suspects were. Two brothers from the Hasbani caste were mentioned while the names of the caste of the two arrested persons was Lashari. The names of the victims were also different from the actual names mentioned in police complaint. After discovering that they had caught the wrong persons, the officials asked the labourers to pay Rs. 50,000 (US Dollars 500) for their release and to persuade them to do so the police beate them.

I am informed that they were tortured during the entire night of March 14. The next day they were again asked to pay the amount, or at least, Rs. 25,000 (US Dollar 250) which was not possible for them. During the next two days they went through severe torture, during which the police poured acid into the anus of Mohammad Nawaz Lashari who died as a result of this heinous torture in the early hours of March 17. The police shifted his body to the civil hospital (government hospital) of Khairpur Mirs in an attempt to show that he had died there.

The hospital authorities immediately conducted an autopsy and found injuries on his back, neck, face and chest and also the traces of acid on his back and anus and the alimentary canal. The body was handed over to the family and the people of the surrounding villages held a protest demonstration on the streets of Khairpur Mirs district for more than 12 hours. The high police officers of the district promised the demonstrators that the investing officer, Sub Inspector Amin Pathan, had been suspended and arrested. The police refused to mention the whereabouts of the co-accused, Aijaz Lashari.

Furthermore I am concerned that the family members of both the Lasharis are under threat from the police who want a settlement with the bereaved family.

I ask you to ensure that the authorities hold an enquiry into the killing of a young man by severe torture through pouring acid in to his anus. I also urge you ensure that his elder brother Mr. Aijaz Lashari who missing after the death of Mohammad Nawaz Lashari is produced safe and sound. The police officers responsible must be prosecuted and compensation paid to the grieved family.

Therefore, I hope that you will do your utmost to ensure that justice is served to the victim and his family and that such a heinous crime will never happen again.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk or pspm@pmsectt.gov.pk

2. Federal Minister of Law and Human Rights
Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
Email: contact@molaw.gov.pk

3. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9213452
Email: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

4. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan
Federal Minister for Interior
R Block, Pak Secretariat
Islamabad (Pakistan)
Tel : 0092-51-9212026
Fax: 0092-51-9202624
Email: interior.complaintcell@gmail.com
ministry.interior@gmail.com

5. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister Sindh,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
Email: pressecy@cmsindh.gov.pk

6. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-039-2014
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.