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PAKISTAN: A student leader was extrajudicially killed in a fake encounter conducted by the state intelligence agencies

August 22, 2013

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-024-2013

22 August 2013
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[Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAC-203-2011 PAKISTAN: Sindh University authorities use law enforcement agencies for disappearances of students]
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PAKISTAN: A student leader was extrajudicially killed in a fake encounter conducted by the state intelligence agencies

ISSUES: Extra judicial killing; disappearance; fake encounter; impunity; no rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the extrajudicial killing of a student leader by persons from the intelligence agencies. A student leader, Afzal Panhwar, who remained in the custody of the security agencies for one year, was again arrested and within some hours he was shot dead by plain clothed persons believed to be from the secret agencies. He was a leader of the Jeay Sindh Student Federation (JSSF) affiliated with the JSMM, a nationalist organization striving for the independence of the Sindh province from Pakistan.

During his first detention he was interrogated by Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) on charges of placing bombs on the railway track and on the second occasion he was again abducted on the same charges.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

Mr. Afzal Ali Panhwar, the son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, a student of M.sc. Biochemistry, Sindh University, Jamshoro and 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. For further details, please find here the Urgent Appeal Case about his disappearance in 2011: AHRC-UAC-203-2011.

Afzal remained in the custody of the MI and ISI for almost one year during which time he was tortured severely. He suffered kidney damage and contracted tuberculosis. He was arrested by police and plain clothed persons on June 26, 2011 from the Hyder Chowk, near Rabia plaza, a crowded market place, at 6.00 pm when he was returning from the university. On June 12, 2012, after unbearable physical as well as mental torture which took place during the period of one year (352 days), he was found in terrible condition in a garbage dump in Dadu city of Sindh, where his captors had left him. After his release he underwent several months of medical treatment.

Mr. Afzal was elected vice chairperson of the Jeay Sindh Student Federation and four months before his extrajudicial killing he suffered a kidnap attempt by the beast-like organizations, the ISI and MI. He was seriously injured in the attempt but managed to save himself from being returned to the hell of the torture cells. The following morning he got his statement recorded in the Press Club of Hydrabad, saying he had security reservations about the ISI and MI, as he had suffered a kidnap attempt for the second time the previous night. He, in his statement made it clear before the press club that his life was under threat and the Pakistani agencies, the ISI and MI wanted to kill him. At that time he applied to international human rights organizations to take some action against the uninterrupted brutality being perpetrated against him.

On 15 August 2013, Mr. Afzal Panhwar was again abducted by plain clothed persons in the same jeep with no registration plate and was then brutally put to death in a fake encounter in Kotri city, Dadu district. It was announced as an encounter with police when attempting to attack a train. However, the weapon which was fired at the train was an AK47, and the weapon which the police revealed in the encounter with Afzal with is a 32 caliber pistol. On August 16, the whole of Sindh province remain aggrieved against the killing of this innocent student.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the following authorities calling them to initiate a judicial inquiry in to the disappearance of a student leader Afzal Panhwar, and his extrajudicial killing in the custody of state intelligence agencies. Please urge them to prosecute the officials of the state intelligence agencies for killing him under their custody.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions calling for his intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear …………….,

PAKISTAN: A student leader was extrajudicially killed in a fake encounter conducted by the state intelligence agencies

Name of victim:
Mr. Afzal Panhwar, resident of a remote village, Khalid Panhwar, district Dadu, Sindh
Alleged perpetrators:
Officials of state intelligence agencies, the Military Intelligence (MI) and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)
Date of incident: 15 August 2013
Place of incident: Kotri, Sindh province

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the extra judicial killing of a student leader from Sindh province.

I am shocked to learn that Mr. Afzal Panhwar, the victim of an extrajudicial killing was also held in the custody of the state intelligence agencies, the ISI and MI, for one year and suffered severe torture. Recently on August 15 of this year he was again arrested and later killed in a fake encounter.

According to the information I have received, Mr. Azal Ali Panhwar son of Munawar Ali Panhwar, a 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. The Asian Human Rights Commission published an urgent appeal about his disappearance in 2011 which may be found at: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-203-2011.

Afzal remained in the captivity of MI and ISI for almost one year during which he was tortured severely. As a result of his mistreatment he suffered kidney damage and contracted tuberculosis. He was arrested by police and plain clothed persons on June 26, 2011 from the Hyder Chowk, near Rabia plaza, a crowded market place, at 6.00 pm when he was returning from the university. On June 12, 2012, after an unbearable physical as well as mental torture of around one year (352 days), he was found in the worst condition from garbage in Dadu city of Sindh, where they had dumped him.

Mr. Afzal was elected vice chairperson of the Jeay Sindh Student Federation and four months before his extrajudicial killing he suffered a kidnap attempt by the beast-like organizations, the ISI and MI. He was seriously injured in the attempt but managed to save himself from being returned to the hell of the torture cells. The following morning he got his statement recorded in the Press Club of Hydrabad, saying he had security reservations about the ISI and MI, as he had suffered a kidnap attempt for the second time the previous night. He, in his statement made it clear before the press club that his life was under threat and the Pakistani agencies, the ISI and MI wanted to kill him. At that time he applied to international human rights organizations to take some action against the uninterrupted brutality being perpetrated against him.

On 15 August 2013, Mr. Afzal Panhwar was again abducted by plain clothed persons in the same jeep with no registration plate and was then brutally put to death in a fake encounter in Kotri city, Dadu district. It was announced as an encounter with police when attempting to attack a train. However, the weapon which was fired at the train was an AK47, and the weapon which the police revealed in the encounter with Afzal with is a 32 caliber pistol. On August 16, the whole of Sindh province remain aggrieved against the killing of this innocent student.

I therefore, urge you to initiate a judicial inquiry into the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Afzal Panhwar by the state intelligence agencies in Kotri, Sindh province. Please also prosecute the officials responsible for the killing. It is well known that human rights abuses by the state intelligence agencies are increasing in Sindh province against Sindhi nationalists who are seeking greater autonomy with regard to the natural resources of the province which are usurped by the federal government. I urge you to stop the extrajudicial killings of the Sindhi activists and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to book. They have enjoyed state sponsored impunity for far too long.

Yours sincerely,

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

4. Federal Minister
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

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

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. 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

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-024-2013
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.