Home / News / Urgent Appeals / PAKISTAN: Sister of the slain women’s rights defender also murdered by the same police constable

PAKISTAN: Sister of the slain women’s rights defender also murdered by the same police constable

July 3, 2013

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-020-2013

3 July 2013

[RE: PAKISTAN: A women’s rights defender has been brutally killed by her husband and a police official]
---------------------------------------------------------------------
PAKISTAN: Sister of the slain women’s rights defender also murdered by the same police constable

ISSUES: Violence against women; impunity; human rights defender; extrajudicial killing; independence of judges and lawyers; rule of law
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the murder of Ms. Shamim Akhter (50), who worked for the Social Welfare organization in Tando Jam, Sindh province. She was brutally chopped to death by her husband Mr. Sajid Mahmood and Police Constable Usman Lodhi on 4 June 2013 (For further information, please see our recent urgent appeal: AHRC-UAC-092-2013).

Now, we have learned that Shamim's younger sister, Ms. Tasleem Akhter, who was pursuing the murder case against the police and her deceased sister's husband, has been murdered by three persons riding on a motor bike. Within 25 days, both sisters were murdered by an official of the same police station and his henchmen. The police still refuse to investigate both cases of murder. Tasleem and her nephew Ehtesham were constantly under threat by the local police officials to withdraw their case demanding an inquiry into the murder of her sister.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

Ms. Tasleem Akhter (40), younger sister of slain women's rights activist Ms. Shamim Akhter (50), was gunned down by three armed men at 11: 30 a.m. on 29 June when she was coming back from a court hearing for her petition filed to demand an inquiry into the murder of her sister. Her nephew Ehtesham (brother's son) was travelling back with his aunt by rickshaw and, as they reached the densely populated area of Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable Market) Station Road, Hyderabad, he saw four persons, including police constable Usman Lodhi, Shahzad, Abdul Hameed and Shahid, come towards the rickshaw. Suddenly the four assailants stopped the rickshaw, dragged Tasleem out and shot her at close range, leaving her injured. She stood up immediately and shouted for help but the constable saw her standing and came back. He shot eight bullets into her body and ran away firing into the air.

The victim's elder sister, Shamin Akhter, was punished by the police because she was always fighting against the police brutality. Shamim had raised awareness of the murder of a Hindu young man in the Gulashan Hali police station by brutal torture. She was also raising her voice against the police ill-treatment of young women.

After receiving the news of her murder, Mr. Shafiq Arain, the brother of Ms. Tasleem, took her body to the office of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hyderabad on Miran Shah Road and held a protest to arrest the killers, but none of the authorities came out. He took the body for autopsy to a hospital, but hospital authorities informed him that without a police report they could not attend to the body. He went back to the Gulshan Hali police station and told the police that, without their report, the autopsy could not be done. Police filed the FIR and the autopsy was conducted.

During the incident, Tasleem's nephew Ehtesham (son of Shafiq), was miraculously saved despite the attackers shooting at him. The officials of Gulshan Hali police station are looking for Ehtesham to finally eliminate him as he is a witness to the murders of both sisters, his aunts. Mr. Shafiq Arain (Tasleem and Shamim's brother) and other family members are constantly under threat from the police, particularly from Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Khawar Gul and Constable Usman Lodhi. The women of the family have been threatened and they all are trapped in their houses.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the murders of two sisters by police constables and their henchmen. Please also urge them to prosecute the high-ranking police officials from Hyderabad who are preventing any action against the perpetrators and who are trying to eliminate all evidence and witnesses from the murder cases. The government must also ensure the security and safety of the victims' family members who are under direct threats particularly Mr. Ehtesham, the nephew of the murdered ladies.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women calling for her intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ……………..,

PAKISTAN: Sister of the slain women rights defender also murdered by the same police constable

Name of victims:
1. Ms. Tasleem Akhter, 40, resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali Road, Hyderabad, Sindh, allegedly murdered by police and three henchmen
2. Mr. Ehtisham, nephew of the murdered sisters, resident of 924 Hazara Colony, American Quarter, Hyderabad, receiving constant threats from the alleged murderers
3. Mr. Shafiq Arain, brother of the murdered sisters, resident of 924 Hazara Colony, American Quarter, Hyderabad, receiving constant threats from the alleged murderers
4. Mr Rafiq Ahmed, resident of 924 Hazara Colony, American Quarter, Hyderabad, receiving constant threats from the alleged murderers

Names of the alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Usman Lodhi, Police Constable at Hali Road Police Station, Hyderabad, Sindh
2. Mr. Sajid Khan, resident of House No 921 Hazara Colony, Hali Road, Hyderabad, Sindh Province
3. Assistant Superintendent of Police/Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Cantonment, Hyderabad, Sindh
4. Station House Officer (SHO) of Hali Road police station
5. Senior Superintendent of Police, Hyderabad, Sindh
6. Mr. Shahzad (friend of police constable Usman Lodhi)
7. Mr. Abdul Hameed (friend of police constable Usman Lodhi)
8. Mr. Shahid (friend of police constable Usman Lodhi)

Date of incident: 29 June 2013
Place of incident: Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable Market) near Station Road, Hyderabad, Sindh

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the murders of two sisters, both killed within 25 days, by one police constable and his henchmen. On 4 June, Ms. Shamim Akhter was murdered by her husband and police constable Usman Lodhi. On 29 June, Ms. Tasleem Akhter, was murdered for pursuing justice for her sister.

I am shocked to learn that police officials from the Gulshan Hali police station have been given complete freedom by the Sindh police and Sindh government to kill citizens and eliminate the evidence.

I received the information that Ms. Tasleem Akhter (40), the younger sister of slain Ms. Shamim Akhter (50), was gunned down by three armed men at 11: 30 a.m. on 29 June when she was coming back from a court hearing for her petition filed to demand an inquiry into the murder of her sister. Her nephew Ehtesham was travelling back with his aunt by rickshaw and, as they reached the densely populated area of Sabzi Mandi (Vegetable Market) Station Road, Hyderabad, he saw four persons, including constable Usman Lodhi, Shahzad, Abdul Hameed and Shahid, come towards the rickshaw. Suddenly the four assailants stopped the rickshaw, dragged Tasleem out and shot her at close range, leaving her injured. She stood up immediately and shouted for help but the constable saw her standing and came back. He shot eight bullets into her body and ran away firing into the air.

The victim's elder sister, Shamin Akhter, was punished by the police because she was always fighting against the police brutality. Shamim had raised awareness of the murder of a Hindu young man in the Gulashan Hali police station by brutal torture. She was also raising her voice against the police ill-treatment of young women.

I am shocked that when, after receiving the news of her murder, Mr. Shafiq Arain, the brother of Ms. Tasleem, took her body to the office of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Hyderabad on Miran Shah Road and held a protest to arrest the killers, none of the authorities came out. He took the body for autopsy to a hospital, but hospital authorities informed him that without a police report they could not attend to the body. He went back to the Gulshan Hali police station and told the police that, without their report, the autopsy could not be done. Police filed the FIR and the autopsy was conducted.

During the incident, Tasleem's nephew Ehtesham (son of Shafiq), was miraculously saved despite the attackers shooting at him. The officials of Gulshan Hali police station are looking for Ehtesham to finally eliminate him as he is a witness to the murders of both sisters, his aunts. Mr. Shafiq Arain (Tasleem and Shamim's brother) and other family members are constantly under threat from the police, particularly from Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Khawar Gul and Constable Usman Lodhi. The women of the family have been threatened and they all are trapped in their houses.

I therefore call upon you to initiate inquiries into the murders of two sisters (both killed within 25 days) by police constables and their henchmen. I also urge you to prosecute the high-ranking police officials from Hyderabad who are preventing any action against the perpetrators and who are trying to eliminate all evidence and witnesses from the murder cases. The government must also ensure the security and safety of the victims' family members who are under direct threats, particularly Mr. Ehtesham, the nephew of the murdered ladies.

Yours sincerely,

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

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 +92 21 920 1201 +92 21 920 1201 +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. 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 Update
Document ID :
AHRC-UAU-020-2013
Countries :
Share |
Subscribe to our Mailing List
Follow AHRC
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.