Category Archives: Human Rights

30,000 Canadians are homeless every night

Homeless man

File photo – Photo credits: Social media + Internet

200,000 Canadians are homeless in any given year, national report says

By CBC News

Despite sporadic success in addressing homelessness in Canada, little progress has been made toward a permanent cross-country solution, says a national report into the extent of the problem.  The report’s initial numbers tell a grim story. Among the report’s findings:

At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness in any given year.
At least 150,000 Canadians a year use a homeless shelter at some point.
At least 30,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night.
At least 50,000 Canadians are part of the “hidden homeless” on any given night — staying with friends or relatives on a temporary basis as they have nowhere else to go.

Read more » CBC
See more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/30-000-canadians-are-homeless-every-night-1.1413016

 

Sindh Human Rights activist “Sufi” Laghari will deliver his talk, “Pakistan-U.S. Relations: Human Rights Abuses in Sindh

Sindhi human rights activist to address UALR on Pakistan-US Relations  

The executive director of the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will discuss human rights abuses against Sindhis in Pakistan, including kidnapping, torture, assassination of political leaders, and persecution of minority religious groups.  Munawar “Sufi” Laghari will deliver his talk, “Pakistan-U.S. Relations: Human Rights Abuses in Sindh,” at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Donaghey Student Center, meeting room D.   The executive director of the Sindhi American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) will discuss human rights abuses against Sindhis in Pakistan, including kidnapping, torture, assassination of political leaders, and persecution of minority religious groups.  Munawar “Sufi” Laghari will deliver his talk, “Pakistan-U.S. Relations: Human Rights Abuses in Sindh,” at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 27, in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Donaghey Student Center, meeting room D.

Read more: University of Arkansas
See more » http://ualr.edu/www/2014/10/23/sindhi-human-rights-activist-to-address-ualr-on-pakistan-us-relations/

Iran hangs Reyhaneh Jabbari despite campaign

Iran has gone ahead with an execution of a woman despite an international campaign urging a reprieve.

Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, was hanged in a Tehran prison on Saturday morning. She had been convicted of killing a man she said was trying to sexually abuse her.

Read more » BBC

Learn More » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29769468

The Planned Disappearance

Following is a poetic response to ASIA: Wounds in the souls of the members of disappeared people’s families can never be cured, which appeared yesterday (September 26, 2014)

by John Joseph Clancey

Will there be another tomorrow?
Or, just another wife’s sorrow,
caused by her husband’s disappearance?

Will I hear my new-born baby’s cry?
Or, will she hear her mother’s sobbing sigh,
wondering about her husband’s disappearance?

Will I be sitting with my father in the Church pews?
Or, will he be constantly waiting for news,
since the first day of his son’s disappearance?

Will tomorrow be another worry-filled day?
Or, perhaps bring a much more creative way,
to avoid the inevitable disappearance?

So many have just gone, without a trace.
Does anyone know the precise time or exact place,
of their ultimate disappearance?

Can I ensure another tomorrow?
And prevent some further sorrow,

by disappearing before the planned disappearance?

For Basil Fernando,

who, in 1989, faced the dilemma: to disappear or be disappeared.

Courtesy: ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

Indian girl, 7, survives being buried alive

A seven-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly buried alive by relatives in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has been rescued by a villager.

Police say relatives first tried to strangle her and then left her to die in a shallow grave. It is unclear why.

The man who found her in Sitapur district alerted police – she was taken to a hospital and is said to be doing well.

Police are looking for her mother, uncle and aunt who they say have fled.

The villager who rescued her followed the sound of muffled cries to the middle of a cane field where he found the soil moving.

Police allege the girl’s uncle and aunt had promised to take her to a fair, but then strangled and buried her near the village of Semri Gaura where she lives.

“When the girl became conscious, she began to remove the soil on top of her and clambered out of the shallow grave. Then she sat there and cried loudly when the villager spotted her,” Sitapur police chief Rajesh Krishna told BBC Hindi.

“There are strangulation marks around the girl’s neck.”

Reports say the girl lived with her mother. Her father apparently had no idea about the attack and has told police he is estranged from his wife and lives separately.

Police say they have yet to establish a motive for the attack. But cases of baby girls being killed are not uncommon in India, where women are often discriminated against socially and girls are seen as a financial burden, particularly among poor communities.

In 2012, the father and uncle of a baby girl in Uttar Pradesh allegedly tried to bury her alive, apparently as a sacrifice to protect the health of their other children on the advice of a spiritual guru.

Courtesy: BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-28948296

The mentally ill population in the largest U.S. jail system is out of control

Screaming Inmates Make L.A. Rethink Jailing Mentally Ill

By James Nash

Inmates in suicide-proof gowns scream and bang on their cell doors one floor below Terri McDonald’s office in the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. The bedlam is a reminder, if she needs one, that the mentally ill population in the largest U.S. jail system is out of control.

It’s a “shameful social and public-safety issue,” said McDonald, the assistant sheriff who runs Los Angeles County’s jails. “I believe we can do better. I believe at some point in the future we’ll look back and wonder, ‘What took so long?’”

Read more » Bloomberg

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-26/screaming-inmates-make-l-a-rethink-jailing-mentally-ill.html

British pensioner on Pakistan’s death row on blasphemy charge shot by policeman

A British pensioner who was sentenced to death after being convicted of blasphemy, has been shot and injured by a policeman inside the Pakistani jail where the 70-year-old was on death row. A Christian pastor was reportedly killed in the same incident. Muhammad Asghar, who is from Edinburgh and whose family says he has a history of mental illness, was shot in Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on Thursday morning by a member of a specialist police unit allegedly using a concealed weapon. Pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed in the same incident, Reuters reported.

Mr Asghar was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to death in January this year after a disgruntled tenant presented letters he had written saying he was a prophet. During his trial, his family tried to present evidence that he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

A lawyer for Mr Asghar, who asked not to be identified, said they had been told the pensioner had been shot in the back at 8.30am by a police constable attached to a specialist unit.

More » The Independent

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-pensioner-on-pakistans-death-row-shot-and-injured-9754963.html

Asma Jahangir, Snowden honoured with ‘alternative Nobel’

By Agencies

STOCKHOLM: Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir and Edward Snowden are among the winners Wednesday of a Swedish human rights award, sometimes referred to as the “alternative Nobel.”

The 1.5 million kronor ($210,000) cash award was shared by Jahangir, Basil Fernando of the Asian Human Rights Commission and US environmentalist Bill McKibben.

Also read: Herald exclusive: An interview with Asma Jahangir

The former National Security Agency contractor, who was honoured for his disclosures of top secret surveillance programs. split the honorary portion of the 2014 Right Livelihood Award with Alan Rusbridger, editor of British newspaper The Guardian, which has published a series of articles on government surveillance based on documents leaked by Snowden.

Created in 1980, the annual Right Livelihood Award honours efforts that prize founder Jacob von Uexkull felt were being ignored by the Nobel Prizes.

The prize is awarded annually “to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today”, according to the foundation.

As an honorary award winner, Snowden, would not receive the customary 500,000 kronor ($70,000) prize money, but the foundation said it would “fund legal support for him” without disclosing the amount.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1134056

Spillover effect: ISIS making inroads into Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Shamim Shahid

PESHAWAR: In a bid to extend its influence in the South Asian region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, (ISIS), commonly known as Daish, distributed pamphlets in Peshawar and border provinces of Afghanistan as well.

The booklet titled Fatah (victory) is published in Pashto and Dari languages and was distributed in Peshawar as well as in Afghan refugee camps on the outskirts of the city. The logo of the pamphlet has the Kalma, the historical stamp of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. Some copies were also mysteriously sent to Afghan journalists working in Peshawar.

Read more » The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/757186/spillover-effect-isis-making-inroads-into-pakistan-afghanistan/

UN call to prevent Iraq massacre

Iraq conflict: UN warns of possible Amerli ‘massacre’

The UN has called for action to prevent what it says may be a possible massacre in the northern Iraqi town of Amerli.

Special representative Nickolay Mladenov says he is “seriously alarmed” by reports regarding the conditions in which the town’s residents live.

The town, under siege by Islamic State for two months, has no electricity or drinking water, and is running out of food and medical supplies. The majority of its residents are Turkmen Shia, seen as apostates by IS.

Read more » BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28910674

This Experiment Shows The Shocking Way We View Homelessness (VIDEO)

The following video will hopefully make you stop and think for a minute about how the homeless are treated. YouTube user QuietAssassins and his friend Sandy, who also happens to be homeless, had a fantastic idea for an experiment — they’d have Sandy panhandle as a homeless man, and then give him a haircut, stick him in a suit, and have him ask strangers for money in the same area. Which do you think would get more results? Here’s the video:

In what is the most shocking and heartwarming part of the video, around 2:12, a homeless man gets visibly frustrated when he can’t find a quarter to give to Sandy — despite the fact that Sandy is wearing a suit. Sometimes those with the least understand the feeling of lacking better than anyone else. On the other hand, at 3:10, a man says “no” before Sandy can utter a word, and when Sandy starts to speak, cuts him off with a “stop.” The lack of empathy is horrifying.

Whether or not you think that money should be given to those begging on the street, this video is troubling. It shows how deeply ingrained it is in our society that poverty is something dirty. Homeless people are treated like disease, and laws are made to put them out of sight — because, for the record, laws criminalizing homeless don’t get rid of homelessness. They just punish poverty.

If you would give a man in a suit money when he asked, but you wouldn’t buy a homeless man a cup of coffee, you need to seriously check your moral compass. A quote at the end of the video sums up the rebuke well:

“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” — Sheila McKechnie

Courtesy: Addicting Info

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/07/30/this-experiment-shows-the-shocking-way-we-view-homelessness-video/

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza

US condemns shelling of UN school in Gaza but restocks Israeli ammunition
White House issues unusually strong rebuke after 16 deaths
But Pentagon confirms that US resupplied Israel with ammunition

By  in Washington and in Jerusalem, theguardian.com

The United States issued a firm condemnation of the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that killed at least 16 Palestinians on Wednesday, but also confirmed it restocked Israel’s dwindling supplies of ammunition.

The White House expressed concern that thousands of civilians who had sought protection from the UN were at risk after the shelling of the girls’ elementary school. Some 3,300 civilians were taking shelter there, after being told by Israel to leave their homes.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which runs the school, said its initial assessment was that it has been struck by Israeli artillery.

Read more » The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/30/us-firm-condemnation-shelling-un-school-gaza?CMP=twt_gu

Pakistan mob kills woman, girls over ‘blasphemous’ Facebook post

By SYED RAZA HASSAN

ISLAMABAD — Reuters: A Pakistani mob killed a woman member of a religious sect and two of her granddaughters after a sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook, police said Monday, the latest instance of growing violence against minorities.

The dead, including a seven-year-old girl and her baby sister, were Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet after Mohammed. A 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and many Pakistanis consider them heretics.

Read more » The Globe And Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/pakistan-mob-kills-woman-and-girls-over-blasphemous-facebook-post/article19803246/

- – – – – – – — – – – -
More details » So what if she is 8-months old? She is Ahmadi, kill her!

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/23426/so-what-if-she-is-8-months-old-she-is-ahmadi-kill-her/

Sindhi Hindu exodus causing humanitarian red alert for India

By ZulfiqarShah

New Delhi: India has become the last destination of Sindhi Hindu from Pakistan, where the state-sponsored seminaries have been victimizing them since last two decades. Over 2000 Hindus have recently refuge in the premises of Delhi in last couple of years; however rough estimates suggest their number during last ten years have crossed one hundred thousand.

Hailing from the secular province of Sindh in Pakistan, their ordeal is the evidence of systematic exodus and their ethnic cleaning by the military establishment supported seminaries and Mullahs. Land grab, forced conversions and marriages of Hindu girls have been heart wrecking ordeal.

Sindh, the second largest province in Pakistan, is the richest in the natural resources like gold, oil, coal and uranium. Analysts believe that the exodus of Sindhi Hindus is being systematically orchestrated by the Pakistan’s establishment, which is monopolized by ethnic Punjabis, and want to take hold of resource rich lands of Sindh as well as intent to alter its demography. The recent reports after Pakistan Army’s operation in Taliban and their associates in the tribal Pashtun area has also been indicating the influx of tribal refugee to Sindh.

“We were either targeted by the criminal gangs in Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur divisions of the province or harassed by the seminaries that house ethnic Punjabi or Pshrun Mullahs from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhuwa provinces,” told a few refugee during their protest demonstration in Delhi after fledging from Pakistan.

They have camped in the various places of Delhi and Rajasthan States of India, where they are mostly hosted either by the refugee supporting organizations or by the Hindu political outfits. One such camp in the northern Delhi is looked after by OM-SPBPJM Trust, led by A. K. Solanki. The refugees of Dravidian origin, Baghris called in Sindhi, practicing thousands years old traditions of Hinduism and have sustained as gypsies community in Sindh after the epic war between Arian and Dravidians in 1500 BC India.

On December 10 last years, over one hundred Sindhi refugees protested outside United Nations headquarters in Delhi and demanded international community’s intervention against Pakistani authorities for the crimes against humanity they have committed in Sindh province.

Sindh is the centre-stage of the provinces – federation conflict in Pakistan. On March 23 this year, Sindh rebelled as at least five million Sindhis took to the streets of Karachi and demanded the independence. Sindh is a home of 50 million Sindhi people and is believed to be the historical land, where massive and outrageous freedom movement has emerged during last decade. Hundreds of the Sindhi activists have been killed and more have been involuntarily disappeared by the intelligence agencies like ISI and the Military Intelligence.

Courtesy: CNN

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1151626

Families of Slain Israeli and Palestinian Teens Turn to Each Other for Comfort

Rachel Fraenkel Touches Hearts With Open Door Policy

By Sigal Samuel

The families of murdered Israeli teen Naftali Fraenkel and murdered Palestinian teen Mohammed Abu Khdeir are drawing comfort from an unexpected source: each other.

Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat took to Facebook on Sunday to write about an “emotional and special telephone conversation between two families that have lost their sons.” He said that during his visit to the Fraenkel family home, he had a chance to speak to Hussein Abu Khdeir, Mohammed’s father, and express pain at the “barbaric” murder of his son.

Barkat then suggested that Abu Khdeir speak to Yishai Fraenkel, the uncle of Naftali Fraenkel who recently told the press that “the life of an Arab is equally precious to that of a Jew. Blood is blood, and murder is murder, whether that murder is Jewish or Arab.” The two men took Barkat’s advice and comforted one another by telephone.

In a separate visit organized by Rabbi Rafi Ostroff, chair of the religious council of Gush Etzion, Palestinians from the Hebron area showed up at the door of the Fraenkel family, looking to comfort the bereaved.

Asked why they had come, one Palestinian said, “Things will only get better when we learn to cope with each other’s pain and stop getting angry at each other. Our task is to give strength to the family and also to take a step toward my nation’s liberation. We believe that the way to our liberation is through the hearts of Jews.”

Read more: http://forward.com/articles/201500/families-of-slain-israeli-and-palestinian-teens-tu/#ixzz36tEEF0ei

The death of each child should be condemned. Be it an Israeli or a Palestinian, both have equal right to live in peace.

one worldUS and UN condemn killing of Palestinian boy in Israel

The US and UN have condemned the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager in Israel, which sparked fierce clashes in East Jerusalem. US Secretary of State John Kerry called it “sickening” while the UN demanded justice over the “despicable act”.

Read more » BBC

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28138860

Indian actor turned politician threatens to send “my boys” to rape female Communist Party activists

Trinamool Leader’s Shocker: ‘Will Ask My Boys to Go and Rape CPM Women

Reported by Monideepa Banerjie, Edited by Prasad Sanyal

Kolkata Tapas Pal, popular Bengali actor and a member of Parliament from Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress has been caught on camera purportedly saying, “I will ask our boys to go and rape CPM women if necessary.”

The footage aired by local TV channels is hazy, but Mr Pal is clearly heard making the shocking threat while addressing party workers and assuring them that members of other parties will not be allowed to harm them. He also allegedly makes other threats.

Read more » NDTV

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/trinamool-leader-s-shocker-will-ask-my-boys-to-go-and-rape-cpm-women-550555

Christian Father Commits Suicide After ISIS Members Rape Wife and Daughter in Front of Him Because He Couldn’t Pay Poll Tax

BY LEONARDO BLAIR , CP REPORTER

A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn’t pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend.

A report from the Assyrian International News Agency said ISIS began enforcing Islamic laws in the northern Iraq city which they overran on June 10.

Read more » The Christian Post

http://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-father-commits-suicide-after-isis-members-rape-wife-and-daughter-in-front-of-him-because-he-couldnt-pay-poll-tax-122220/

Sherman and Colleagues Express Deep Concern to Prime Minister Sharif over Human Rights Violations against Sindhis in Pakistan

Brad ShermanSherman and Colleagues Express Deep Concern to Prime Minister Sharif over Human Rights Violations against Sindhis in Pakistan
Sherman, Bentivolio, Schiff, Gabbard, and Petri Urge Prime Minister Sharif to Take Action

Washington, DC – Congressman Brad Sherman, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, was joined by four Members of Congress – Kerry Bentivolio, Adam Schiff, Tulsi Gabbard, and Tom Petri – in sending a letter to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to express deep concern over human rights violations in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
Sindhi activists have been regularly persecuted and detained, and even violently targeted through enforced disappearances and brutal murders.  Religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindu Sindhis, have faced discrimination and attacks by extremists on their houses of worship.
The letter urges the Prime Minister to “address the situation accordingly by strongly countering these actions and policies throughout the Pakistani government.”
“We are urging Prime Minister Sharif to do everything in his power to protect the Sindh community, as well as religious minorities, from attacks,” said Congressman Sherman.  “The Sindhi community includes tens of millions of people in Pakistan who are striving to preserve their language and culture, but Sindhi activists are subject to enforced disappearances and sometimes targeted killings.”

“Violence against minorities everywhere is an unacceptable violation of human rights,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “ In Pakistan, we’ve heard reports of torture, executions and disappearances of peaceful and politically active Sindhis and Balochs who are Hindu, Christian, Shi’a and other religious minorities. These religiously and politically motivated attacks are abhorrent, and I strongly urge Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take action to address these troubling offenses. The Government of Pakistan must stand up for human rights, and against violent radicals who seek to persecute and kill those with differing beliefs.”

Courtesy: » Congressman Brad Sherman

http://sherman.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/sherman-and-colleagues-express-deep-concern-to-prime-minister-sharif

Was this Lahore or Occupied Kashmir?

Islamabad diary

By Ayaz Amir

If this was Srinagar, and the Indian army had been trying to quell a crowd of Kashmiri demonstrators, we would have understood. We would have shaken our heads but we would have understood. Although even there the savagery and the mindless brutality of the Lahore police on supporters of Dr Tahirul Qadri would have seemed excessive.

The Indian army and the Indian police don’t have much of a reputation for being gentle in dealing with unruly Muslim protesters. Even so, when was the last time nine people, including two women and a youngster, were shot dead in cold blood in Srinagar? In addition to the dead there are around 30-40 people with gunshot wounds in hospital. When was the last time this happened across the Line of Control? When was the last time this was the tally of the dead and wounded in East Jerusalem or the West Bank?

And this wasn’t Hamas-ruled Gaza, the West Bank or Occupied Kashmir. This was Lahore and one of its better residential colonies. The chief minister lives in the same locality. But that evening when he addressed a press conference looking ever so contrite, he gave the impression that all this happened over his head. This from someone known as a hands-on chief minister…virtually half the city’s police force deployed against the Minhajul-Quran secretariat, the locality looking like a battlefield and resounding with the sound of gunfire for hours on end, and the chief minister in blissful ignorance.

Continue reading →

The Feminist Leader Who Became a Men’s-Rights Activist

Karen DeCrow served as president of the National Organization for Women, but she often broke with feminist orthodoxy.
Karen DeCrow, the feminist attorney and author who served as president of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977, died of melanoma last Friday at 76. Although her passing was widely noted in the media, most the obituaries and tributes overlooked the more unorthodox aspects of her work. Alifelong champion of women’s rights, DeCrow was nonetheless skeptical about many key aspects of latter-day feminism, including its focus on sexual violence and male abuse of women. She was also, for much of her career, a men’s-rights activist.

Mass beheadings reported in Iraq as al-Qaeda forces take Mosul and Tikrit

Iraq crisis: ISIS militants push towards Baghdad – live

Group claims mass killings of Iraqi troops, as militants battle security forces 50 miles from Baghdad – follow latest developments – follow latest developments

By 

It is impossible to confirm at present whether the ISIS claim on Twitter to have executed 1,700 Shia soldiers in Iraq is accurate, or an exaggeration intended to create fear among the Shia populace. But earlier, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, expressed “extreme alarm” at the situation and spoke of verified reports of “summary executions and extrajudicial killings”. Some of the reports cited suggest that Iraqi security forces are being purged, though it is unclear whether there is an ethnic dimension to all of the killings.

According to the UN mission in Iraq, “the number of people killed in recent days may run into the hundreds and the number of wounded is said to be approaching one thousand,” Rupert Colville, Ms Pillay’s spokesman, said in Geneva.

He said UN had received reports of horrific abuses after the capture of Iraq’s second city Mosul, one such case involving the “summary executions of Iraqi soldiers (and) of 17 civilians” thought to have been working for the police, in one particular street in Mosul on 11 June.

Read more » The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iraq/10892299/Iraq-crisis-ISIS-militants-push-towards-Baghdad-live.html

Sindhis are with Balochs in this struggle to get justice.

Sindh: Hyderabad – Senior Representative RightsNow Pakistan, Sindh Progressive Lawyers Forum (SLFP) and  human rights lawyer, former auditor Hyderbad Bar Association Mr. Inderjeet Lohano visited camp at Press Club Hyderabad and met leaders advocate Zarina Nawaz, advocate Comrade Hussain Baksh Thebo, Eminent Hari leader Punhal Sario, Asghar Laghari, and Bakhshal Thalo who were sitting on 24 hours Hunger Strike in Solidarity with with Latif Johar who is already sitting on hunger strike for return of balouch missing leaders Advocate Inderjeet said we are with the Baloch and rest of the civil soicety in this struggle and will use legal tools to get justice.

Courtesy: via Facebook

 

BLASPHEMY: THE NEW FACE OF RELIGIOUS TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

Written by  Fatima Tassadiq

If the 1980s is notorious in Pakistan’s history for its so called Islamization, the current decade will probably be remembered as the era of ‘blasphemization’ of Pakistan. Over forty years ago Zia ul Haq deployed Islam to legitimize his illegal coup against a democratic government and proceeded to raise a generation of militants in CIA run training camps funded by Saudi money. This period not only witnessed the increasing institutionalization of religion but also the rise of Sunni militancy – the leaders and founding members of notorious organizations like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Lashkar-e-Taiba were a product of the Afghan Jihad.
In spite of their high profile violence, it was many years before either of these organizations was banned as ‘terrorist’ outfits. It was also not until suicide attacks became a common place occurrence in Pakistan that public opinion finally recognized  Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a menace rather than ‘mujahideen’ fighting for the cause of Islam. Today we have managed to take Zia’s tactics to a whole new level through the expansive and mind bogglingly creative deployment of the notion of blasphemy. From imprisoning children, killing governors, ministers, human rights lawyers, filling a case against no less than 67 lawyers and then accusing a TV channel of blasphemy in a grand finale we have pretty much done it all in the last few years. Blasphemy is no doubt the new face of terrorism in the name of Islam. The only difference is that we have yet to recognize it as such.

Pakistan: PMLN party MPA Rao Kashif beats up a doctor for not standing up for him

Courtesy: Express Tv News » Daily Motion

“The land of the pure”, is taking on a new fascist meaning!

Faith killing

Sikhs from Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa protested outside parliament yesterday in Islamabad against the alleged desecration in Shikarpur of Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikh community. There have been multiple cases of disrespect to scriptures of Guru Granth Sahib Ji and several attacks on their worship places in Sindh. There are many things to fear on part of the safety of minorities. The protest brings the Sikh community into the forefront and a conservative backlash or violence against them might further catalyse. There needs to be a concerted effort, not least of all on part of the religious leaders in Pakistan, to condemn the attack, to demand the arrest of perpetrators and advocate religious freedom and diversity before this community and other minorities are further hurt.
In March, Sikhs in Peshawar protested against the killing of a Sikh hakim in Charsadda and the abduction of two others in DI Khan. Just a few weeks ago artifacts inside a Hindu temple were smashed by a mob in Rahim Yar Khan and the temple was set ablaze. In March, five Hindu temples were attacked. There are reports that families are leaving Pakistan for fear of safety and forced conversions. There are reports that hundreds of Hindu and Christian girls are abducted every year and converted to Islam through the use of forced marriages. This problem may be bigger than we know it to be, as families are unable or unwilling to make formal complaints and there is hardly any press coverage of this. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, last year saw over 200 sectarian attacks, which killed 687 people. Seven Ahmadis were targeted and killed, and over 100 Christians were killed in a Peshawar church.
There is almost never a provocation by the minority that causes these violent incidents. These attacks are the culmination of a social, religious and political agenda and are not just a law and order issue (though policing and security around these issues is a joke). The phrase, “the land of the pure”, is taking on a new fascist meaning, with these actions and demands on part of an intolerant conservative majority leaving no room for anyone else.

Courtesy: The Nation

http://www.nation.com.pk/editorials/24-May-2014/faith-killing

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

Pakistan’s Tyranny of Blasphemy

By 

LAHORE, Pakistan — “I used to feel my life was too straight, too linear.”

The speaker was Junaid Hafeez, a young poet and Fulbright scholar from the south of Pakistan, telling a radio show host in 2011 why he had given up studying medicine for a life in literature. Today, he is in jail on a blasphemy charge that carries the death penalty, and is mourning the lawyer who was murdered earlier this month for defending him.

Before his arrest, Hafeez was teaching in the English Department at Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan, a city in Punjab Province close to where he grew up. His personal charisma and liberal views had won him a following among students, as well as the envious attention of faculty members.

One day in 2013, a student affiliated with Islami Jamiat Talaba, a wing of the hard-line Jamaat-i-Islami party, accused Hafeez of insulting the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook. The student had no evidence, but no evidence was needed.

Hard-line students soon held a protest crying out for Hafeez’s execution. University administrators backed away. The police registered a case for blasphemy against Hafeez. They did not ask cybercrime specialists to investigate the accusation, relying instead on a fatwa issued by a seminary.

For months Hafeez’s father tried to find a lawyer. Finally he petitioned Rashid Rehman, the 53-year-old special coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Multan. A legal expert with 20 years of activism, Rehman was known as a go-to lawyer for hopeless causes. Despite the danger, he agreed to take Hafeez’s case. Defending a man accused of blasphemy, Rehman told a reporter in April, was like “walking into the jaws of death.”

Those jaws have been open wide since the 1980s, when the military dictator Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq updated a set of colonial laws that criminalized “insulting the religion of any class of persons.” The original laws were devised in the late 19th century by a paternalistic British government trying to keep its multifaith subjects from fighting one another. Those laws were worded generally, and prescribed fines and, at most, two-year prison terms.

General Zia’s amendments particularized the insults and tailored the provisions to favor a stringent Sunni strain of Islam. They criminalized the desecration of the Quran, any defiling of the name of the Prophet Muhammad, and disrespectful remarks about his companions — a jab at Pakistan’s Shiite minorities, who dispute the outcome of the succession struggle that followed the Prophet’s death. Moreover, any attempt by members of the outlawed Ahmadi sect to refer to themselves as Muslims was criminalized. Punishments were upgraded: Blasphemers could be executed or jailed for life.

General Zia died in an air crash in 1988, but his legacy remains. It includes the empowerment of theological figures in every stratum of life — from clerics and televangelists to fanatical academics and Shariah judges — all aided in their righteous endeavors by a legislature that remains intractably Zia-ist.

The blasphemy laws are part of this package. For decades they had been rarely used, with only a handful of cases before the mid-1980s. But General Zia’s amendments opened the floodgates: More than a thousand cases have been reported since then, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Just last week the Punjabi police, prompted by a Sunni extremist, brought blasphemy charges against 68 lawyers.

The blasphemy laws can serve just about anyone with a dark design — an angry relative, an envious colleague, a neighbor with his eye on your property. But the greatest beneficiary has been the professional Islamists, who specialize in their application to encroach on both state and society.

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Pakistan: Rights advocate Rashid Rehman Khan gunned down in Multan

By AFP & Dawn.com

MULTAN: Human Rights Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, DawnNews reported late on Wednesday night.

Initial reports suggest that Khan was targeted by two gunmen inside his office at Kachehri Chowk.

Sources told Dawn.com that two clean-shaven young men barged into Advocate Khan’s office and shot him dead. They also injured his two lawyer friends, identified as Nadeem Parwaz and Afzal.

Injured were taken to Nishtar Medical Center where Parwaz is said to be in a critical condition.

“Armed gunmen stormed the chamber of Rashid Rehman and started indiscriminate firing on Wednesday evening, injuring Rehman and two of his associates present there,” senior police official Zulfiqar Ali told AFP.

Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The senior lawyer was defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life.

The HRCP had voiced serious concern over the threats extended to Khan.

Read more » DAWN

http://www.dawn.com/news/1104788/rights-advocate-rashid-rehman-khan-gunned-down-in-multan

BBC – Can anyone control Pakistan’s ISI spies?

bbcPakistan’s dreaded spy agency, the ISI, is back in the spotlight, accused of murdering journalist Saleem Shahzad. The agency’s engagement with the media has become progressively more virulent as the “war on terror” has progressed. BBC Urdu editor Aamer Ahmed Khan asks whether anyone can bring the ISI under control.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13638478

PAKISTAN – As a state and society, are we a basket case?

Comment by Shahab Usto

In Karachi–Jinnah’s Mausoleum has been shut for security reasons. Among a host of no-go areas, this new addition is the most tragic and shameful of all.

In Lahore–A poor christian has been sentenced to death on a cooked-up blasphemy charge. If the judiciary itself plays to the gallery, instead of following law and constitution, then from where would the ‘minority’ citizens seek justice and protection.

In Hyderabad–A Kali Mata temple has been set ablaze by the ‘soldiers of Islam‘. And then we expect the world to condemn Chief Minister Narendra Modi for enacting a pogrom against the Muslims in Indian Gujarat?

In Thar–for all the tall claims, the children continue to die of dearth and disease. Yet our ‘august’ rulers continue to harp on claiming that they are not dying of famine but malnourishment, and hence they are absolved of all their duties to protect the citizens!

In Waziristan–Our official interlocutors are grovelling before a bunch of terrorists and mass killers to extend the ‘cease-fire’ with the nuclear-armed state, possessing the sixth largest armed forces in the world and a land of 200 million people!

With the prevalence of such levels of apathy, injustice, absurdity and incorrigibility, is there any doubt that we as a state and society have completely turned into a hopeless basket case??

Courtesy: » via Facebook

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemns JSQM leaders killings

By Pakistan Peoples Party

KARACHI, March 21: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Patron-In-Chief, Pakistan Peoples Party has strongly condemned the brutal killings of Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) leader Maqsood Qureshi and a worker in Naushehro Feroz.

In a press statement, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said inhuman act of burning the bodies of JSQM leader was the most heinous crime stressing that those committed it must not go scot-free at any cost.

He asked for thorough probe into the incident and fact-finding as PPP, being a democratic party, would never allow such incidents under any circumstances.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari expressed sympathy to the family of JSQM leader and workers and asked the people to remain calm and assured full support to the bereaved family.

Courtesy: Media Cell PPP
http://mediacellppp.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/bilawal-bhutto-zardari-condemns-jsqm-leaders-killings/

Baloch leader Farzana Majid takes on Pak journalists; shows them the mirror

The language of the video clip is urdu (Hindi).

http://vimeo.com/87954287

Courtesy: ‎VBMP LongMarch‬ » Vimeo

Liberal newspaper Express Tribune cowed into silence by Pakistani Taliban

Media group opts for self-censorship on terrorism after Taliban admits murder of three employees for critical reports on militants

By Jon Boone, in Islamabad

When it was launched four years ago, the Express Tribune set out to become the house newspaper of liberal-minded Pakistanis.

A newcomer to a market dominated by conservative-inclined papers, it made a point of writing about everything from the relentless rise of religious extremism to gay rights.

But in recent weeks the paper has been cowed into silence by an unusually blatant display of power by the Pakistani Taliban.

The paper was forced to drastically tone down its coverage last month after three employees of the media group, which includes another newspaper and television channel, were killed in Karachi by men armed with pistols and silencers on 17 January.

The attack was later claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a large coalition of militant groups, which accused the media group of disseminating anti-Taliban propaganda.

Read more » theguardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/liberal-newspaper-express-tribune-silenced-pakistani-taliban