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Pakistan: UN Special Representative Hina Jilani, among 50 human rights activists, arrested at the rally on violence against women
Concern at the arrest of human rights activists seeking to organise a rally on violence against women, 14th May 2005
May 17 th, 2005
Dear General Pervez Musharraf
We, the undersigned human rights workers would like to express our concern at the arrest of 50 people including Ms. Hina Jilani, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders, and Ms. Asma Jehangir, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the youth wing of Jamaat-Islami. The report from Lahore stated that the police barred the activists from organizing a marathon to raise awareness on the issue of violence against women in Pakistani society. The police unnecessarily baton charged the peaceful assembly causing injuries to several activists. Though the activists were released after 4 hours of detention, the action of the police in preventing the organizing of the peaceful marathon is a matter of grave concern.
The objective of the marathon organised jointly by HRCP and Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights, was to highlight the issue of violence against women. According to the reports of Amnesty International and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, incidents of violence against women including physical abuse, rape, acid throwing, burning and killing, is widespread in Pakistan . According to reports during the last two years more than 600 women were killed for alleged breaches of “honour”. Many of such cases of violence are unreported and the victims include young girls of tender age.
Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and has an obligation to take all appropriate measures to ensure the realization of equal rights of women. To achieve these goals we urge the State to allow civil society people to express their opinions and voice their issues of concern in a democratic manner. The State should support the efforts of civil society in protecting and promoting the rights of women instead of suppressing such endeavors.
NGOs Coalition for the protection of Human Rights Defenders, Thailand
Mr. Somchai Homlaor, Human Rights Lawyer
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
CEDAW Watch Network , Mongolia
Alison G Aggarwal, human rights activist Australia