The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) sent an urgent appeal on Oct. 15, 2002, regarding the brutal action of the police in Mirpur in Pakistani-administrated Kashmir on Sept. 30, 2002. The detainees of Sept. 30 are still behind bars. The following report is an update regarding another brutal action of the police in Muzaffarabad, the capital city of Pakistani-administrated Kashmir, against a peaceful demonstration held by the Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF) on Oct. 15.
During the incident of Sept. 30, 2002, a peaceful procession of the Anti-Mangla Dam Extension Committee in Mirpur was attacked, assaulted with tear gas, baton-charged and 13 political activists were arrested. In response, the Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF), a secular, democratic and progressive organisation of Kashmiri students, announced a protest march for Oct. 15 in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administrated Kashmir, to demand the release of the detainees of Sept. 30 and to protest against the extension of the Mangla Dam that will displace 90,000 to 100,000 people in Kashmir. The protestors, however, were attacked by the police, assaulted with tear gas and baton-charged as well. As a result of this brutal action by the police, several demonstrators were injured. The police also arrested at least 15 peaceful demonstrators and took them to the city police station where no one has been allowed to visit them. Moreover, the detainees who were injured, including Mr. Shujaat Ali Kazmi, the president of JKNSF, have been denied medical treatment as well.
Meanwhile, at 6:00 a.m. on Oct. 16, a group of 50 policemen raided the house of Prof. Khaleeque, a prominent educator and intellectual of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, without arrest and search warrants and insulted him and maltreated his family members and arrested his son, Mr. Shujaat Tatari, a politically active member of JKNSF.
There have been large-scale protests in all of the towns of Pakistani-administered Kashmir since the Pakistani government decided to extend the Mangla Dam.
AHRC stresses that the use of such violence must come to an end immediately. The people of Kashmir have a legitimate right to protest peacefully. Denying the people of this right is a violation of their basic human rights and contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other human rights covenants.
Please take action now by sending letters of protest to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, and Mr. Khalid Ranjha, the federal minister of law, demanding the release of all detainees and the convening of an inquiry of the events taking place in Pakistani-administrated Kashmir since the Pakistani government announced the extension of the Mangla Dam in Kashmir that will displace about 100,000 people.
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Re: Violence and tension in Pakistani-administered Kashmir due to the extension of the Mangla Dam
I am writing to express my deep concern about the recent escalating violence and arrests in Pakistani-administered Kashmir because of the extension of the Mangla Dam that will displace thousands of people who are poor. It is also illegal as the State of Jammu Kashmir is a disputed territory whose future will be determined through a plebiscite according to U.N. Security Council resolutions.
We call upon you to take all necessary measures to step back from the proposed extension of the Mangla Dam and to release all of the detainees, who were arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order law, or MPO, on Sept. 30 and Oct. 15, 2002, in Mirpur and Muzaffarabad respectively.
We also call upon you to bring an end to the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, to release all of the detainees and to take effective and genuine disciplinary action against the police officers who gave the orders for these attacks on civilians and the police officers who took part in these violent actions. Moreover, we request that an apology be made to the victims of these violent actions and that reassurances be given to the people of Pakistani-administered Kashmir that these actions will not be repeated. Lastly, we ask that the government bear the medical costs incurred by the victims due to the beatings they have received from the police.
I trust that you will take prompt action to resolve the present tense and violent situation in Pakistani-administered Kashmir.
Thank you for your kind attention to this important issue.
SEND LETTERS TO;
General Pervez Musharraf
President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Fax: +92 051 920-1893/1835 or 4632
Salutation: Dear Gen. Musharraf
Mr. Khalid Ranjha
Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S-Block, Pak Secretariat