The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that four young men have been illegally arrested, detained and tortured by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials because of a minor personal dispute. The first victim was allegedly taken hostage by an ISI colonel so that his uncle would pay a debt, and the other three were friends of the victim who inquired about him at the local police station. Three of the young men are still being held incommunicado and according to the fourth, who was released after six days, they have all been badly tortured by officials in a secluded place. The released victim is in ill health and has been warned against publicising the details of his friends’ capture by the perpetrators. Although civilians in Muzaffarabad have held protest rallies, no action has yet been taken by the authorities.
According to the information we have received, Mr. Pervez Butt, a resident of Center Plate in Muzaffarabad, borrowed money with a Pathun (an ethnic group) money-lending group and was unable to pay the sum back. One of the money lenders is related to an ISI Lieutenant Colonel in Peshawar, Lt Cl Hamza, who allegedly threatened Pervez a number of times about the money.
On 21 November Lt Col Hamza went to Pervez’s residence with ten people, most of them from the Frontier Constabulary of Peshawar. Pervez was not in his residence at that time, and the Lt Col took his nephew, Mr. Faizan Butt as a hostage, reportedly handing him over to the Saddar Police Station in Muzaffarabad. That evening three of Faizan’s friends Ali Rathore, Raja Qayyum and Shafiq Butt went to the police station to ask for his release and were allegedly taken away with Faizan by the colonel.
Two days after the men’s abduction, Butts family received a call from Lt. Colonel Hamza, telling them that the four young men would only be released from his custody in exchange for Pervez, who is in hiding. One of the captives, Ali Rathore, was left near Butt’s house on November 27 with serious torture injuries, and was declared by hospital doctors to be in a state of shock. The next day Rathores family received a call from the Lt Col, who told them that the remaining prisoners would be tortured more harshly if details of the arrest were given to the public. The whereabouts and condition of the three men remain unknown.
Civilian representatives in Muzaffarabad and members of the Kashmir National Party have written several letters to the prime minister of Pakistan-held Kashmir, as well as to other high officials of the Pakistani and Kashmir governments, yet no action has been taken.
It should be noted that Lt Col Hamza has no professional connection to Kashmir, which the government of Pakistan has declared to be an independent state, with its own prime minister and government. The case demonstrates not only the impunity available to those who work within military intelligence and the complicity of other law enforcers in it, but also exposes the limit to Kashmir officials’ authority over the ISI, which frequently conducts operations in the area under the banner of national security.
Though Azad Jammu and Kashmir (generally known as Pakistani-held Kashmir), is officially an independent state, it remains ostensibly under the Pakistans Federal Ministry of Kashmir Affairs. Because of insurgent activity between it and Indian-held Kashmir, Pakistani spy agencies operate heavily in the area and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir, hosts at least five ISI centres alongside the other intelligence agencies of the state, most notably the Military Intelligence (MI), which are known to consistently operate above the rule of law.
Please write letters to the authorities urging them to recover the three victims from the illegal captivity of ISI, and take legal action immediately against the responsible officials.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to UN Special Rapporteur on the question of torture and to the Working Group on arbitrary detention, calling for their intervention into this case.
To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER
PAKISTAN: An army colonel has had four men abducted and tortured due to a personal dispute, in Pakistan-held Kashmir
Name of victims:
Mr. Faizan Butt, son of Ayaz Butt; born in 1990; first year student; resident of Centre Plate, Muazffarabad, Pakistan-Kashmir.
Mr. Raja Shahid Qayyum, son of Raja Qayuum; a fourth year student; born in 1984; resident of Centre Plate, Muzaffarabd, Pakistan-Kashmir.
Mr. Ali Rathor, son of Pervaiz Rathor; born in 1986; student; resident of Madina Market, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-Kashmir.
Mr. Shafiq Butt, son of Fateh Butt; born in 1980; resident of Centre Plate, Muazffarabad, Pakistan-Kashmir.
Name of alleged perpetrator:
Lieutenant Colonel Hamza of ISI, Muzaffarabad, Kashmir
Officers of the Frontier Constabulary in Peshawar
Date of incident: 21 November 2009
Place of incident: Centre Plate, Muzaffarabad, Pakistan-Kashmir
I am writing to voice my deepest concern regarding the illegal arrest and torture of four young men from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-held Kashmir, by a high official of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
I am shocked to learn that a petty dispute over a loan has resulted in the illegal arrest of the four men by a Lieutenant Colonel Hamza, and their reported incommunicado detention since November 21, 2009. According to one of the victims, who was released, the four men were badly tortured in a bid to force the surrender of the uncle of one victim, who owed money to a relation of the perpetrating officer. The family of the intial victim has received a phone call from the Lt Cl declaring the men hostages.
One of the prisoners, Mr. Ali Rathore, was released on 27 November and reports severe abuse by ISI officials; he has since been declared by the doctors to be in shock. The Lt Colonel has reportedly warned him and his family against revealing further details.
I am deeply troubled to hear that in the presence of a police system and system of law, officials of an intelligence agency are able to act with such arbitrary and violent impunity, with the assistance of law enforcers. Of particular concern is the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Hamza is an officer attached to Peshawar, NWFP, and has no professional connection to Kashmir, which has been declared by the government of Pakistan to be an independent state. This case exposes the apparent limit to Kashmir officials’ authority over the ISI, which frequently conducts operations in the area under the banner of national security.
Civilian representatives in Muzaffarabad and members of the Kashmir National Party have held public protests, and written several letters to the prime minister of Pakistani-held Kashmir and other high officials of the Pakistani and Kashmir governments, yet no action has been taken.
I demand that action is taken to secure the safe release of the three detained men, and that those responsible face strong legal sanctions. Please also ensure that the victims receive extensive compensation and rehabilitation for their ordeal.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Yousaf Raza Gillani
Prime minister of Pakistan
C/o Mr. Zafar Mahmood
Tel: +92 51-9213562
Fax: +92 51-9201357
2. Mr. Raja Mohammad Farooq Haider
Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
The Prime Minister Secretariat,
And: Kashmir House
3. Ch. Ahmad Mukhtar,
Minister for Defence,
Government of Pakistan
Ministry of defence,
4. Mr.Naeem Khan
Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas
5. Mr. A Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
6. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)