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PAKISTAN: A women’s rights defender has been brutally killed by her husband and a police official

June 28, 2013

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-092-2013



June 28, 2013

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PAKISTAN: A women’s rights defender has been brutally killed by her husband and a police official

ISSUES: violence against women, human rights defender, no rule of law, injustice, abuse of police power
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a women’s rights defender has been killed by her husband, who acted with the connivance of a police head constable. The local police held an internal inquiry and exonerated the police constable, going so far as to say that there was no such murder. The woman’s body was chopped up and her eyes were gouged out, but police have not even examined how she was killed; they just claim she was not murdered. The victim’s sister and her nephew have been declared to be mentally ill persons. The husband is hiding after the incident and police have not yet started any attempts to find him. High-ranking police officials are protecting the killers.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Ms. Shamim Akhter (50), resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali road Hyderabad, who worked for the Social Welfare organization, in Tando Jam, Sindh province, was brutally killed by her husband Mr. Sajid Mahmood on 4 June 2013. Mahmood was the cousin of Ms. Akhter. They had been married for 13 years and had no children. Mahmood was a rickshaw (three-wheeler vehicle) driver. The three-wheeler was the property of his wife and his sister-in-law Ms. Tasleem. Mahmood lived with his wife in Ms.Tasleem’s house as tenants.
According to the Daily Express Tribune, on 4 June Ms. Shamim Akhtar was at home alone when her husband Mahmood, with the assistance of his close friend Police Constable Mr. Usman Lodhi, entered her home at around 4 or 5 p.m. and attacked her. They held Ms. Shamim down and chopped off her hands, ears and fingers to get the golden bangles, earrings and rings she was wearing at the time of the incident. After mutilating her body, they gouged out both her eyes and ran away with the looted jewelry and Pak Rs. 250,000 in cash (USD2500). On the day of the incident, when Ehtesham (the victim’s nephew) went to visit his aunt (his father’s sister, Ms. Shamim), he saw Usman Lodhi, the afore mentioned Police Constable, coming out from the house. He also saw Mahmood coming out later and running away quickly. When Ehtesham went inside, he saw his aunt lying on the floor with severe injuries all over her whole body and blood oozing from the injuries. He took his aunt to a civil hospital in Hyderabad but she lost her life as the injuries were severe.
Ms. Shamim Akhtar was working with an NGO called the Social Welfare organization, in Tando Jam, Sindh, and she got her pay two days before the incident. According to her sister Ms.Tasleem, the victim and her husband were happy and there was no conflict between them regarding anything. On some occasions her husband got angry about giving away food; when the neighbors’ children came to her house and ate, her husband did not like it, or if she gave food to her siblings, her husband got angry.

The police have been informed about this brutal attack. However, they have not taken any steps to look into this case. Ms. Tasleem, the victim’s sister, recorded some evidence about the killing, such as video clips after the incident and pictures of the victim, house and conditions. On the day of the incident, Ms. Tasleem and her nephew led a protest and brought the dead body in front of the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hyderabad. They demanded the arrest of those who killed Ms. Shamim Akhtar. The Station House officer (SHO) threatened to arrest them and demanded that they remove dead body from road. Ms. Tasleem demanded justice for her sister, demanding that the police arrest the known killers and recover her looted possessions. Ms. Tasleem presented documented evidence in the form of a CD to the Hali Road police station, Hyderabad, but they refused to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) against the murderers.
As a police constable was involved in the case, the police wanted to protect him. On the next day, the Assistant Sub-Inspector of police posted at the Hali police station, ASI Mohammad Tufail, demanded a bribe for filing the FIR. The deal was settled, according to Tasleem, at Rupees 3300 for the registration of the case against the police constable Usman Lodhi and the deceased’s husband. The FIR is number 44/2013, registered under sections 302, 380, 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The Hyderabad police also arrested Constable Lodhi. He remained in police custody for seven days. The police manipulated the case of murder by using an internal inquiry, conducted by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), which exonerated Constable Lodhi on the false grounds that prosecution witnesses have denied that there was any murder. The SSP issued the inquiry report and said that there was no murder.
The nephew of the victim challenged the inquiry report before the court of a Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Hyderabad 8, where the case is pending. The local police released the accused constable. The local police are threatening to kill Ms. Tasleem (the victim’s sister) and her nephew if they do not withdraw the case.
The Hyderabad police have not started investigations into the death of the victim. Police claim that she was not murdered, and are not inquiring into how she died. The police and the local courts are silent on the death of the victim, despite seeing her mutilated body.


SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Ms. Shamim Akhtar by her husband and a police constable. Please urge them to prosecute the high-ranking police officials of Hyderabad districts who deny that she was murdered and are preventing any investigation. The Sindh government must provide justice and compensation to the victim and her family, and the court has to recover Shamim’s belongings, which were looted by the police constable Mr. Usman Lodhi and her husband Mr. Sajid Mahmood.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Violence against women calling for his intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: A women’s rights defender has been brutally killed by her husband and a police official

Name of victim:
1. Ms.Shamim Akhter, resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali road Hyderabad, Sindh Province,
2. Ms.Tasleem Akhter, resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali road Hyderabad, Sindh Province,
3. Mr. Ehtisham resident of 924 Hazara Colony, American Quarter Hyderabad.

Names of alleged perpetrators:
1.Mr. Usman Lodhi, Police Constibal at Hali Road Police Station Hyderabad, Sindh
2. Mr. Sajid Khan, resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali road Hyderabad, Sindh Province,
3. ASP/SDPO, Cantt Hyderabad Sindh
4. Mr. Tariq Qureshi, Station House Officer (SHO) of Hali road police station
5. Senior Superintendent Of Police, Hyderabad Sindh

Date of incident: 4 June 2013
Place of incident: Hazara Colony, Hali Road, Hyderabad

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the brutal murder of a women rights defender by her husband and a police constable. The Hyderabad police have provided protection to the police constable who helped her husband to kill his wife.

It is shocking for me that police through its internal inquiry exonerated the accused persons and declared that the victim lady was not murdered. The police also have not initiated any investigation in the death of the victim; in fact, they have closed the case.
I am informed that Ms. Shamim Akhter (50 years old, resident of Hazara Colony, Hali road Hyderabad, working for the Social Welfare organization, in Tando Jam, Sindh province) was brutally killed by her husband Mr. Sajid Mahmood on 4 June 2013. Mahmood was the cousin of Ms. Akhter. They were married for 13 years and had no children. Mahmood was a rickshaw (three-wheeler vehicle) driver. The three-wheeler was the property of his wife and his sister-in-law Ms. Tasleem. Mahmood lived with his wife in Ms.Tasleem’s house as tenants.
I received information from the Daily Express Tribune that on 4 June Ms. Shamim Akhtar was at home alone when her husband Mahmood, with the assistance of his close friend Police Constable Mr. Usman Lodhi, entered her home at around 4 and 5 p.m. and attacked her. They held Ms. Shamim down and chopped at her hands, ears and fingers for the golden bangles, earrings and rings she was wearing at the time of the incident. After chopping up her body, they gouged out both her eyes and ran away with the looted jewelry and Pak Rs. 250,000 in cash (USD2500). On the day of the incident, when Ehtesham (the victim’s nephew) went to visit his aunt (his father’s sister, Ms. Shamim), he saw Usman Lodhi, the aforementioned Police Constable, coming out from the house. He also saw Mahmood come out later and run away quickly. When Ehtesham went inside, he saw his aunt lying on the floor with severe injuries all over her whole body and blood oozing from the injuries. He took his aunt to a civil hospital in Hyderabad but she lost her life as the injuries were severe.
Ms. Shamim Akhtar was working with an NGO called the Social Welfare organization, in Tando Jam, Sindh, and she got her pay two days before the incident. According to her sister Ms.Tasleem, the victim and her husband were happy and there was no conflict between them regarding anything. On some occasions her husband got angry about giving away food; when the neighbors’ children came to her house and ate, her husband did not like it, or if she gave food to her siblings, her husband got angry.

I am appalled to learn that the police have not taken any steps to look into this case. Ms. Tasleem, the victim’s sister, recorded some evidence about the killing, such as video clips after the incident and pictures of the victim, house and conditions. On the day of the incident, Ms. Tasleem and her nephew led a protest and brought the dead body in front of the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hyderabad. They demanded the arrest of those who killed Ms. Shamim Akhtar. The Station House officer (SHO) threatened to arrest them and demanded that they remove dead body from road. Ms. Tasleem demanded justice for her sister, demanding that the police arrest the known killers and recover her looted possessions. Ms. Tasleem presented documented evidence in the form of a CD to the Hali Road police station, Hyderabad, but they refused to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) against the murderers.
As a police constable was involved in the case, the police wanted to protect him. On the next day, the Assistant Sub-Inspector of police posted at the Hali police station, ASI Mohammad Tufail, demanded a bribe for filing the FIR. The deal was settled, according to Tasleem, at Rupees 3300 for the registration of the case against the police constable Usman Lodhi and the deceased’s husband. The FIR is number 44/2013, registered under sections 302, 380, 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The Hyderabad police also arrested Constable Lodhi. He remained in police custody for seven days. The police manipulated the case of murder by using an internal inquiry, conducted by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), which exonerated Constable Lodhi on the false grounds that prosecution witnesses have denied that there was any murder. The SSP issued the inquiry report and said that there was no murder.
The nephew of the victim challenged the inquiry report before the court of a Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Hyderabad 8, where the case is pending. The local police released the accused constable. The local police are threatening to kill Ms. Tasleem (the victim’s sister) and her nephew if they do not withdraw the case.
The Hyderabad police have not started investigations into the death of the victim. Police claim that she was not murdered, and are not inquiring into how she died. The police and the local courts are silent on the death of the victim, despite seeing her mutilated body.
I therefore urge you to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Ms. Shamim Akhtar by her husband and a police constable. I also urge you to prosecute the high-ranking police officials of Hyderabad who deny that she was murdered and are preventing any investigation. The Sindh government must provide justice and compensation to the victim and her family, and the court has to recover Shamim’s belongings, which were looted by the police constable Mr. Usman Lodhi and her husband Mr. Sajid Mahmood.


Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Address list
1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92-51-9204801-9214171
Fax: +92-51-9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. 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

3. Federal Minister of Law
Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

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


5. Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan
Governor of Sindh province
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 5043
Tel: +92 21 920 1201
E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk

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


7. Mr. Justice Mushir Alam,
Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: info@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk


Thank you.

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

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-092-2013
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.