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PAKISTAN: Jirga orders the murder of a 16-year-old girl

October 17, 2005

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAM

Urgent Appeal

13 October 2005
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UA-175-2005: PAKISTAN: Jirga orders the murder of a 16-year-old girl

PAKISTAN: Honour killings; Violence against women; Rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the murder of a 16-year-old girl following a Jirga calling for her death for having dishonoured her tribe. Ms. Bashi of the Luhar tribe left her parents home to marry Mr. Munaware of the Otho tribe. When her father and several relatives approached the elder of their tribe, Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar, he called upon a Jirga of the eminent persons of his tribe. The Jirga at first found that the girl must be returned to her tribe. In a second hearing it decided that the girl must be killed. Accordingly, the girl’s father and six other relatives took the girl to a nearby canal where they suffocated her and buried her body.

A First Information Report has been registered in relation to this case, but as all of the perpetrators are currently in hiding, no arrests have been made. Thus, justice has not been served in this heinous and barbaric crime.

Honour killings are an extreme form of violence against women and have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of women in Pakistan. It is only with continued pressure on the Pakistan government to implement policy to prevent and punish this dreadful crime that the practice may eventually be stopped.

Your urgent action is required in this matter. Please send a letter to the relevant authorities and request them to arrest the alleged perpetrators as soon as possible and conduct an independent investigation into this case. Please also urge the Sindh State government to take genuine action to prevent honour killings in the future.

Urgent Appeals Desk,
Asian Human Rights Commission

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DETAILED INFORMATION:

Name of victim: Ms Bashi (16), daughter of Deedar Luhar (one of the perpetrators), Luhar caste
Alleged perpetrators:
1. Ghous Bux, son of Khathoor, grand-father of the victim
2. Noor Mohammad, son of Khathoor, brother of the victim’s grand-father
3. Deedar, son of Ghous Bux, father of the victim
4. Ghafar, son of Ghous Bux, uncle of the victim
5. Ghous Bux, son of Dadoo, relative of the victim
6. Sulaiman, son of Dodo, relative of the victim
7. Kaoro, son of Fareed, relative of the victim
All from Luhar caste, near Army Public School, Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Complainant: Sub-Inspector Abdul Hameed Khakhrani, In-charge of CIA Shikarpur
Witnesses:
Seven Police Constables
1. Mohammad Panjal
2. Ghulam Shabir
3. Mohammad Usman
4. Mukhtiar Khan
5. Saleem
6. Abdul Latif
7. Sadar-u-ddin
8. Khair Mohammad, Driver
All posted at Stuart Gunj Police Station
Date of incident: Night of 16/17 September 2005
Place of incident: Larai Mohalla, near Eid Gah, Shikarpur City, Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Case reported on: 19 September 2005 at Police Station Stuart Gunj

Details of the incidents:

On 13 September 2005, the victim, Ms. Bashi, from the Luhar tribe, left her parents’ home in order to marry Mr. Munaware of the Otho tribe. Ms. Bashi and Mr. Munaware were neighbours and had fallen in love.

However, according to the perpetrators the young victim’s actions had brought extreme shame and dishonour to the tribe to which she belonged. In order to rid themselves of this shame the perpetrators believed that their honour must be washed with the blood of the girl. Therefore, a few days after Ms. Bashi had left to marry, her father called several of his relatives (mentioned as the perpetrators) who were living in a nearby village and they advised him to relate the incident to the elder of their tribe, Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar, who also lives in the same city.

Having heard the story, Mr. Mir Hassan called upon a Jirga of the eminent persons of his tribe, in which all the perpetrators participated. The Jirga found that the girl’s actions had dishonoured her tribe and that she must be returned at once from the Otho tribe. After several threats were made against the Otho tribe, the girl was eventually returned. Having secured the girl, the above-mentioned perpetrators took the girl to their village near the Army public School in Shikarpur, and once again a Jirga was held in which it was decided that the girl must be killed.

As a result, on the night of September 16/17, the alleged perpetrators took the girl from her home to a nearby canal. There they suffocated her to death and buried her body on the bank of the canal.

On September 19, Central Investigation Authority (CIA) In-charge, Mr. Abdul Hamid Khakhrani was informed of this incident and immediately registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 69/2005 under seconds 302, 201, 34 PPC (Pakistan Penal Code)) on the part of the state. Mr. Abdul Hamid then took the above-mentioned witnesses, who are all police constables, to the place where he had been informed the dead body had been buried. Having reached there they saw some ten armed men of the Luhar tribe were on watch and were positioning themselves into a firing position. After exchanging several bullets, the men from the Luhar tribe fled and the police exhumed the dead body.

With the story having gone public in the local news, the alleged perpetrators have gone under ground. The police are still attempting to arrest the perpetrators, but this has been severely hampered due to their unknown whereabouts.

It is apparent from this case that the whole incident was planned and orchestrated by the elder of the Luhar tribe, Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar. The victim’s family is however, equally at fault of this crime due to their having carried out the attack directly.

It has since been learnt that Mr. Munaware Otho has gone underground, due to fear of retaliation. There have also been no efforts made by the Otho tribe to reconcile the matter with the Luhars.

In Pakistan, especially in Sindh Province, one may find a myriad of cases of such nature where the Jirga is used to bring so called justice to persons considered to have dishonoured their tribe. Additionally, although there has been no sign of consequential rivalry between the two tribes to date, many such cases eventually result in the break out of acute tribal wars.


SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please send a letter to the relevant authorities listed below voicing your strong condemnation of the decision passed by the Jirga and the actions of the perpetrators who took the life of an innocent child.

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SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Jirga orders the murder of a 16-year-old girl

Name of victim: Ms Bashi (16), daughter of Deedar Luhar (one of the perpetrators), by caste Luhar, unmarried
Alleged perpetrators:
1. Ghous Bux, son of Khathoor, grand-father of the victim
2. Noor Mohammad, son of Khathoor, brother of the victim’s grand-father
3. Deedar, son of Ghous Bux, father of the victim
4. Ghafar, son of Ghous Bux, uncle of the victim
5. Ghous Bux, son of Dadoo, relative of the victim
6. Sulaiman, son of Dodo, relative of the victim
7. Kaoro, son of Fareed, relative of the victim
All by caste Luhar, near Army Public School, Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Complainant: Sub-Inspector Abdul Hameed Khakhrani, In-charge of CIA Shikarpur
Witnesses:
Seven Police Constables
1. Mohammad Panjal
2. Ghulam Shabir
3. Mohammad Usman
4. Mukhtiar Khan
5. Saleem
6. Abdul Latif
7. Sadar-u-ddin
8. Khair Mohammad, Driver
All posted at Stuart Gunj Police Station
Date of incident: Night of 16/17 September 2005
Place of incident: Larai Mohalla, near Eid Gah, Shikarpur City, Shikarpur District, Sindh Province, Pakistan
Case reported on: 19 September 2005 at Police Station Stuart Gunj

I am appalled to learn that a Jirga in Sindh Province, Pakistan called for a 16-year-old girl to be murdered merely for her seeking to marry the man that she loved. I am equally appalled to know that the girl’s father and six other relatives chose to carry out the request by suffocating the young victim and burying her body beside a canal.

In retaliation for the victim, Ms. Bashi leaving her parents’ home and her Luhar tribe to marry Mr. Munaware of the Otho tribe, the Jirga, headed by the elder of their tribe, Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar was called upon to decide the fate of this young girl who was deemed to have brought shame and dishonour to her people. Following the Jirga concluding that the girl should be killed for her actions, the perpetrators took her to a canal in the middle of the night where they acted out their own barbaric form of justice.

On September 19, Central Investigation Authority (CIA) In-charge, Mr. Abdul Hamid Khakhrani was informed of this incident and immediately registered a First Information Report (FIR No. 69/2005 under seconds 302, 201, 34 PPC (Pakistan Penal Code)) on the part of the state. Mr. Abdul Hamid then took the above-mentioned witnesses, who are all police constables, to the place where he had been informed the dead body lay. Having reached there they saw some ten armed men of the Luhar tribe were on watch and were positioning themselves into a firing position. After exchanging several bullets, the men from the Luhar tribe fled and the police exhumed the dead body.

To date however, no arrests have been made as the alleged perpetrators have all gone into hiding. Mr. Munaware’s whereabouts are also not known and there has been no reconciliation between the Otho and Luhar tribes. From past incidents involving this kind of matter, the possibility of tribal war breaking out if this case is not resolved is high.

In light of this I request you to intervene immediately in this case. Justice must be sought for this young girl who had her life taken away from her by the Jirga and the senseless actions of those who adhered to it. An independent investigation must be conducted into this incident and charges laid against the perpetrators as well as Mr. Mir Hassan Luhar, who it would seem orchestrated the entire matter, if the allegations are to be found true.

I also urge the government of Pakistan to take strong measures to stop tribal courts and ensure that the victims and their families get fair trials and justice. Usually, the decisions of honour killing cases are taken by the landlords (tribal court) rather than by the courts of law and the killers frequently receive a light penalty. The government of Pakistan must also take all possible measures to abolish the custom of honour killings by declaring them a "crime" and creating legal provisions to prohibit it.

Lastly, I urge the government of Pakistan to fulfill its international obligations and implement CEDAW on a domestic level to abolish the practice of honour killings.

I look forward to your intervention in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND LETTERS TO:

1. General Pervez Musharraf
President
Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan Secretariat,
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
Email: CE@pak.gov.pk 

2. Hon. Mr. Ishrat-ul-Ibad Khan
Governor Govt. of Sindh
Governor House Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 9201201-3
E-mail: governor@governorsindh.gov.pk

3. Mr. Asad Jahangir
Provincial Police Officer, Sindh Police
Central Police Office Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 9212626-7
Fax: +92 21 9212051

4. Mr. Niaz Siddiqui
Regional Police Officer
Sukkur Region
Airport Road Sukkur
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 71 5630 547, 5630 248
Fax: +92 71 5631 824

5. Syed Sultan Shah
Joint Secretary for Law, Justice and Human Rights
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: + 92 51 920 3464
Fax: + 92 51 920 3119

6. Mr. Fareed Jan Sarhandi
DPO District Shikarpur,
Police Head Quarters Shikarpur
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 761 515077, 512309
Fax +92 761 512369

7. Mr. Mehtab Shaikh
DPO Investigation
District Shikarpur,
Police Head Quarters Shikarpur
PAKISTAN
Ph. 92-761-515077, 512378
Fax. 92-761-512369

8. Mr. Ghulam Hussain Bhutto
DPO Investigation
District Shikarpur
Police Head Quarters Shikarpur
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 726 515077, 512378
Fax: +92 726 512369

9. Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women
OHCHR-UNOG
Palais Wilson, 8-14 Avenue de la Paix,
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: 41 22 917 9022


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-175-2005
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.