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PAKISTAN: Sindh University authorities use law enforcement agencies for disappearances of students

October 11, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-203-2011



11 October 2011
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PAKISTAN: Sindh University authorities use law enforcement agencies for disappearances of students

ISSUES: Disappearances, education, coercion and intimidation
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the authorities of Sindh University, Jamshoro, Sindh province are allegedly involved in disappearance of the students. It is alleged that they used police and spies from the state intelligence agencies in an effort to hide malpractices and corruption in the university. The disappeared students had filed a petition in the Sindh provincial High Court for the denial of their basic rights to access of better education facilities but the authorities connived with the law enforcement authorities to cause the students to be disappeared punish so that the state would be blamed as responsible not the authorities.

The prominent student activists were arrested by the police and plain clothed persons from a crowded market place and have been missing for four months. Their whereabouts are currently unknown. Since last one year 10 persons from different nationalist groups are missing after their arrest.

CASE NARRATIVE
:

Mr. Azal Ali Panhwar son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, student of M.sc. Biochemistry, Sindh University, Jamshoro, resident of Allama I. I. Qazi hostel block, filed a constitutional petition, number 863 of 2011 on May 11, 2011, seeking the provision of all student facilities according to the catalogue and student's activities calendar 2011 (STAGS) and the expulsion of police personnel from the student hostels of the university. He mentioned in his petition that since 2008 the internet services, the university buses to the students, study tours and sports facilities had not been provided which were promised in the student's activities calendar and for which students have paid their fees. Besides this, the students are deprived of hostel facilities as police force has been provided residence in the hostels. The students have to reside in rented houses and this is an extra financial burden on top of the university fees. Furthermore, there are no doctors in the dispensaries. He also submitted the signatures of 28 students who have written a memorandum to the vice chancellor of the university asking for the provision of all basic facilities to the students.

As his petition was being heard in the Sindh high court, the police and plain clothed persons arrested Panhwar on June 26, just one month after his petition, from the Hyder Chowk, near Rabia plaza, a crowded market place, at 6.00 pm when he was returning from the university. To arrest him the police used half a dozen vehicles and the police party was headed by Mr. Fareed Jan Sarhandi, the District Police Officer (DPO) of the Hyderabad district, Sindh province. The plain clothed persons pushed him into one of the vehicles which did not have a registration number. The victim's brother and other family members contacted the DPO who assured them that the intelligence agencies took him for some investigation and that he would be released soon. Now, however, he denies any knowledge of Mr. Panhwar's whereabouts.
Mr. Azal Ali Panhwar is a student leader of the University and belongs to the Jeay Sindh Muttehda Mahaz, a nationalist organisation working for the greater autonomy of Sindh. Especially where its natural resources are concerned as they are presently under the control of federal government and the military of Pakistan.

It is alleged that three more students have been disappeared but their family members do not want to report them. They believe that if their news of their disappearance is leaked they would be killed in the same fashion that is happening in Balochistan. This is where people are arrested and disappeared and within some days their dead bodies are found on the road side.

Another nationalist leader, Mr. Sana Ullah Bhatti, resident of house number 1234/74 Civil Hospital road, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh, was arrested by the police and the plain clothed persons lead by the same DPO on July 2, when Bhatti and his friend Yaqoob Mallah were coming from Tando Muhammad Khan. As they reached Giddu Chowk, Hyderabad, Sindh province, the DPO stopped them and Bhatti was pushed into a vehicle which, as in the previous incident, did not bear a registration plate. Since then his whereabouts are unknown. The DPO has since denied that he has arrested him. However, Yaqoob Mallah states that he witnessed Bhatti's arrest and that the DPO was definitely involved.

Mr. Faraz Ali Bhatti, Sana Ullah Bhatti 's nephew has filed a case of habeas corpus for his release in the Sindh high court.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The disappearances in the Sindh province are common since the war on terror and particularly after the induction of civil government.

On 11 April 2011, around a dozen activists from Jeay Sindh Mutehda Mahaz (JSMM), a Sindhi speaking nationalist group struggling for greater autonomy of the people of Sindh province on their resources, were returning to their cities after completing a six day hunger strike in front of Karachi Press Club for the recovery of their leader, Mr. Muzaffar Bhutto, who has been missing since 25 February. When they ended their hunger strike they went to a local restaurant close to the inter-city bus terminus. The activists took three wheelers to take the bus but before reaching the bus two double cabin jeeps bearing no registration numbers and one police jeep stopped one three wheeler and off loaded four persons namely, Riaz Kakepoto, district president of Nawabshah city of JSMM, Shah Nawaz Bhutto, president of Daulatpur town, Ali Nawab Mehar member district committee of the organization at Nawabshah and Jam Bhutto, activist at Nwabshah city, Sindh province, and dragged them in to unregistered jeeps by the plain clothed persons. The police stopped the traffic flow from main road and cleared the way for the unregistered jeeps to take away the activists. Since then their whereabouts are unknown.

Two other Sindhi activists were reportedly abducted in October 2009 and since then their families have not heard from them. Aakash Mallah, Vice Chairman of the Sindh nationalist party Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), and JSQM activist Noor Mohammad Khaskheli, were abducted on 30 October 2009, in Sindh province, south-eastern Pakistan (For further information, please see the previous urgent appeal: AHRC-UAC-040-2011). Local sources allege the two men were subjected to enforced disappearances by government security officials. There have been a series of court hearings on the case since then and two officers of the Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), have faced allegations by the police for carrying out the abduction. But still the whereabouts of the two men remain unknown and intelligence agencies have rejected the allegations that the two men are held in their custody.

A list of missing persons from Sindh during the year 2011

1.Muzafar Bhutto: Muzafar Bhutto is general secretary of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) he was kidnapped from new Saeedabad toll plaza on 24-02-2011 when he was travelling from sukkar to Hyderabad with his wife Saima Bhutto and his younger brother Shah Nawaz Bhutto. Some officers of the agencies stopped their car and kidnapped Muzafar Bhutto. Since then his whereabouts are unknown.

2. Riaz Kakepoto: Riaz Kakepoto is district president of Nawab Shah city JSMM, he was kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on 11-04-2011 after finishing the 6 day hunger strike for the release of Muzafar Bhutto.

3. Ali Nawab Mahar: Ali Nawab Mahar is member of distract committee Nawab Shah city JSMM, he was also kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi on 11-04-2011 after finishing the 6 day hunger strike for the release of Muzafar Bhutto.

4.Shah Nawaz Bhutto: Shah Nawaz Bhutto is tulka president of Dulatpur city JSMM, he was also kidnapped from Rainbow Center Karachi 11-04-2011 after finishing the 6 day hunger strike for the release of Muzafar Bhutto..

5. Jam Bhutto: Jam Bhutto is member of Nawab Shah city JSMM, he was also kidnapped from rainbow center Karachi after finishing the 6 day hunger strike for the release of Muzafar Bhutto.

6. Agha Yasir: Agha Yasir ws kidnapped from Karachi. He was the divisional organizer of JSMM Karachi. Agha Yasir also the advocates at the Maleer Court of Karachi. After his kidnap Maleer Court judges & advocates boycotted the court for 24 hours.

7. Shafqat Brohi: Shafqat Brohi is the clerk of Maleer Court Karachi and kidnapped with Agha Yasir from Karachi.

8. Afzal Pahnwar: Afzal Pahnwar is a student of the University of Sindh and also president of JSMM university of Sindh, he was kidnapped from Hyderabad city on 26 June 2011

9.Sanaullah Bhatti: Sanaullah Bhatti is District president of Tando Muhammad Khan city he was also kidnapped from Hyderabad city on 2-7-2011

10.Mukhtiar Pahnwar: Mukhtiar Pahnwar is the secretary of JSMM district: Dadu sindh. He was kidnapped on 28-9-2011 from Chandni Chowk at 11 am. According to his relatives he was kidnapped by persons who came in two double cabin vehicles without any registration.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write the letters to the following authorities for the release of the disappeared persons from Sindh who are working for the rights of the education and greater autonomy of the Sindh province. Please urge them to stop the menace of disappearances after the arrest and if there are serious crimes against the disappeared persons they should be tried in the court.
To support this appeal, please click here:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Sindh University authorities use law enforcement agencies for disappearances of students

Name of victims:
Mr. Afzal Panhwar son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, student of M.sc. Biochemistry, Sindh University, Jamshoro, resident of Allama I. I. Qazi hostel block

Mr. Sana Ullah Bhatti, resident of house number 1234/74 Civil Hospital road, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh,

Names of alleged perpetrators:
Mr. Fareed Jan Sarhandi, district police officer (DPO) Hyderabad, Sindh province,

Registrar, Sindh University, Jamshoro, Sindh province,

Date of incident: June 26 and July 2, 2011

Place of incident: Hyderabad, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the cases of disappearance of a student leader and a nationalist from the Sindh province who were arrested by the police and the plain clothed persons and since then their whereabouts are unknown.

I am shocked to learn that a student leader, Mr. Afzal Panhwar, was arrested and disappeared after he filed a petition in the high court seeking the educational facilities as promised in the university calendar. The other person Mr. Sana Ullah Bhatti was arrested and disappeared by the same police party and plain clothe persons who were head by district police officer (DPO) of Hyderabad, Sindh province.

I learned that Mr. Azal Ali Panhwar son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, student of M.sc. Biochemistry, filed a constitutional petition, number 863 of 2011 on May 11, 2011, seeking the provision of all student facilities according to the catalogue and student's activities calendar 2011 (STAGS) and the expulsion of police personnel from the student hostels of the university. He mentioned in his petition that since 2008 the internet services, the university buses to the students, study tours and sports facilities had not been provided which were promised in the student's activities calendar and for which students have paid their fees. Besides this, the students are deprived of hostel facilities as police force has been provided residence in the hostels. The students have to reside in rented houses and this is an extra financial burden on top of the university fees. Furthermore, there are no doctors in the dispensaries. He also submitted the signatures of 28 students who have written a memorandum to the vice chancellor of the university asking for the provision of all basic facilities to the students.

I appalled to know that as his petition was being heard in the Sindh high court, the police and plain clothed persons arrested Panhwar on June 26, just one month after his petition, from the Hyder Chowk, near Rabia plaza, a crowded market place, at 6.00 pm when he was returning from the university. To arrest him the police used half a dozen vehicles and the police party was headed by Mr. Fareed Jan Sarhandi, the District Police Officer (DPO) of the Hyderabad district, Sindh province. The plain clothed persons pushed him into one of the vehicles which did not have a registration number. The victim's brother and other family members contacted the DPO who assured them that the intelligence agencies took him for some investigation and that he would be released soon. Now, however, he denies any knowledge of Mr. Panhwar's whereabouts.

Mr. Azal Ali Panhwar is a student leader of the University and belongs to the Jeay Sindh Muttehda Mahaz, a nationalist organisation working for the greater autonomy of Sindh. Especially where its natural resources are concerned as they are presently under the control of federal government and the military of Pakistan.

It is alleged that three more students are disappeared but their family members do not want to report them as they are apprehended that if their news of disappearances is leaked out they would be killed in the same fashion what is happening in the Balochistan where people are arrested and disappeared and with in some days their dead bodies are found on the road side.

Another nationalist leader, Mr. Sana Ullah Bhatti, resident of house number 1234/74 Civil Hospital road, Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh, was arrested by the police and the plain clothed persons lead by the same DPO on July 2, when Bhatti and his friend Yaqoob Mallah were coming from Tando Muhammad Khan. As they reached Giddu Chowk, Hyderabad, Sindh province, the DPO stopped them and Bhatti was pushed into a vehicle which, as in the previous incident, did not bear a registration plate. Since then his whereabouts are unknown. The DPO has since denied that he has arrested him. However, Yaqoob Mallah states that he witnessed Bhatti's arrest and that the DPO was definitely involved.

It is very shocking for me to learn that during 2011 alone ten persons have been disappeared after arrest. This is the way that the police and other state intelligence agencies deal with dissidents rather filing cases against them in the court of law and giving them a chance to air their grievances.

Pakistan, being a member state of the UN Human Rights Council has a duty to follow international norms and standards for the safety and security of individuals. These disappearances must be investigated and all the victims returned safely to their families. It is a well known fact that many, if not all disappeared persons are tortured in captivity and they should be provided with medical and counseling services upon their release. The police officers who act on behalf of the intelligence services such as Mr. Fareed Jan Sarhandi, the District Police Officer who has been positively identified in at least two cases must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I urge you to ensure that all the disappeared persons from Sindh province be released and returned to their families. The cases against the officers involved in their disappearances must be prosecuted in open court so that the people of Pakistan may see that the government is taking positive action to put a halt to the practice of forced disappearances once and for all.

Yours sincerely,

----------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

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

2. Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

3. Mr. Raza Rabbani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

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

5. Mr. Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026 +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior@gmail.com or interior.complaintcell@gmail.com

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

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

8.Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: registrar@sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

9. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil@yahoo.com


Thank you.

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

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-203-2011
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.