REPORTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCIES: F
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL URGENT ACTION
EXTERNAL (for general distribution)
Fear For Safety
11 March 94
PAKISTAN: Attacks against members of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore
Amnesty International is concerned that the Pakistan authorities are failing to protect the lives and physical safety of members of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore. After at least 13 attacks against individual Ahmadis by armed men in the past four months, most recently in February, the organization fears that the lack of official condemnation and protection will result in more violence, deaths and injury. The recent attacks have claimed two lives and left more than a dozen Ahmadis seriously injured. Victims include students, doctors, university professors, and other prominent members of the Ahmadiyya community.
The assailants reportedly go to Ahmadi homes, force the occupants to leave their houses, demand to know if they are Ahmadis, then beat them severely under the Ahmadi religion, adherents are not permitted to deny their faith). The identity of the attackers remains unclear, but there are believed to be members of an armed Islamist group. Eyewitnesses have described them as "bearded young men in their early to mid-twenties", and have recognized some of them as "students of Allama Iqbal Medical College".
It seems the police have so far failed to adequately investigate the attacks, or to provide any protection to members of the Ahmadiyya community against further violence. Even when the victim's families have been able to provide information about the identity of the assailants, or their vehicle's registration number, the police have reportedly refused to register their complaints.
One one occasion, two Ahmadis were severely beaten, before being dragged by their attackers to a nearby police station where the police reportedly registered a case against the victims, while taking no actions against their perpetrators. Usually the police have not registered victims' complaints at all. In a few cases, the police have amended the complainants report, warning the complainant to submit the amended report if they wanted it to be registered.
On 2 February 1994, Rana Riaz Ahmad was shot dead by men who were then identified by the victim's family. However, it seems that only two of the named assailants have been questioned by police. On 6 February, Ahmad Nasrullah, son of Hamid Nasrullah, the Ameer (leader) of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore, was found dead. There has been no police action to bring his killers to justice.
The Ahmadiyya community considers itself one of several dozen sects in Islam. It was founded in the late 19th century and has approximately 10 million members worldwide. However, it is regarded as heretical by orthodox Muslims. The Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan, which has some four million adherents, has faced severe restrictions in recent years. In a 1974 a constitutional amendment they were declared non-Muslim. Under a 1984 legislation, they were prohibited from calling themselves Muslims and performing Muslim religious rites. Over the past decade, Ahmadi places of worship have been targeted for attack by Islamist assailants.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters
- expressing concern about recent attacks by armed men against members of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore, which have resulted in at least two deaths and over a dozen people seriously injured, and calling on the authorities to publicly condemn such attacks;
- urging the authorities to take immediate steps to guarantee the lives and physical safety of members of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore;
- urging the authorities to immediately initiate a thorough investigation into the attacks, with a view to bringing to justice those responsible, including any police personnel found to have been deliberately conniving with the assailants;
- expressing concern at reports that police in Lahore are failing to protect the lives and physical safety of members of the Ahmadiyya community, and are neither adequately registering complaints nor investigating attacks;
- urging the authorities to ensure that all complaints regarding these incidents are registered by the police and thoroughly investigated.
President Farooq Ahmad Leghari [Dear President]
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto [Dear Prime Minister]
Mr. Mian Ahmad Manzoor Wattoo [Dear Chief Minister]
Please call on the following only to publicly condemn the attacks:
PLEASE COPY: His Excellency Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
...A decision of the Pakistani Supreme Court last July has effectively closed the door to any legal redress for the intolerance and persecution that the Ahmadiyya Muslims have been encountering in Pakistan for the last two decades.
...all civilized nations have cherished freedom of conscience, thought, and religion...Pakistan's Constitution also embodies and upholds these freedoms...
...most amazingly, the justices justified the laws prohibiting the Ahmadis the use of Islamic phrases by drawing a parallel from the trade laws prohibitive of trade and merchandise marks. This is a distasteful monetization of something spiritual and sublime. Furthermore, the Supreme Court's decision encourages religious intolerance and violence against Ahmadis...
...By stating that allowing an Ahmadi to display Islamic symbols in public is like creating a Salman Rushdie out of him, the Court has made a direct incitement to kill Ahmadis...
"Pakistan Falls Short on Religious Freedom"
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Chief Justice Saad Saad Jan
Dear Justice Jan,
I am writing to urge the Supreme Court of Pakistan to reconsider its decision in the case of Mujib-ur-Rehman Dard v. Pakistan, C.A. 149/89, slip op. (Supreme Court, Jul. 3, 1993), upholding the constitutionality of Ordinance XX regarding the religious practices of Ahmadis. In the Ahmadi case, The Supreme Court of Pakistan has restricted the rights of a particular religious group, an action that contravenes broadly accepted international legal norms, including Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Court's decision also misconstrues American constitutional law, to which it turns for analogy.
I am writing on behalf of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, a non-governmental organization. The Lawyers Committee's work is impartial. It holds all governments to a universal human rights standard, that is contained in the International Bill of Human Rights.
According to our information, on July 3, 1993, your court dismissed eight appeals brought by members of the Ahmadi minority community. The appeals which arose from five separate criminal convictions and three civil cases, challenged the constitutionality of Ordinance No. XX of 1984 [The Anti-Islamic Activities of the Quadiani Group, Lahori Group, and Ahmadis (Prohibition and Punishment) Ordinance, 1984]. Appellants argued that the Ordinance, which prohibits the Ahmadi community from engaging in certain religious practices and from using certain Islamic terms, violates fundamental rights guaranteed by the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan. In a decision which relied heavily on foreign precedents, your Court upheld the Ordinance. Appellants have now filed a petition for review, urging your Court to reverse its July decision.
The question which the Supreme Court addressed was whether Ordinance XX violates fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan, and, in particular, whether Ordinance XX is incompatible with Article 20 of the constitution of Pakistan. Article 20 reads:
To clarify what measures a legislature may take under Article 20 to restrict religious practices, your Court turned to American constitutional law for analogy. The Court noted that American law requires a balance between religious practices on one hand and regulations to protect society on the other. It cited Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304 (1939), to support its balancing approach. In Cantwell, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to distinguish between religious and nonreligious causes. It held that it is unconstitutional to forbid religious, charitable and philanthropic solicitation. Cantwell, 310 U.S. at 296.
The other cases cited by the Supreme Court of Pakistan also do not sanction limitations on the right to religious freedom, but rather consistently uphold that right. These cases each support the principle that laws infringing on religious practices may be upheld only if they have a neutral purpose (i.e., one that is not related to to limitations on religious practices), apply to everyone and only coincidentally impact on or prohibit religious practice. In Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. 145, 166 (1878), the U.S. Supreme Court held that certain religious groups are not exempt from laws applicable to all, even when those laws happen to have an impact upon what are arguably religious activities. The Court did not forbid specific religious practices.
Principles of equality, neutrality and nondiscrimination guide each of the U.S. cases cited by the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Jones v. Opelika, 316 U.S. 584, 593 (1942) (upholding a "non-discriminatory" licensing fee for the sale of literature); Hamilton v. Regents, 293 U.S. 245, 256 (1934) (upholding a state university's compulsory military training which applied to all students of a certain age); Cox v. New Hampshire, 312 U.S. 569, 576 (1941) (upholding state regulation of street parades when applied "without unfair discrimination").
Unlike the laws at issue in these U.S. cases, Ordinance XX is not neutral since it explicitly singles out the religious practices of one community, the Ahmadi. Rather than applying the same standards to everyone, Ordinance XX expressly forbids members of the Ahmadi community from engaging in practices which are legal and encouraged in the majority community. The Ordinance is therefore fundamentally discriminatory and would be unconstitutional under U.S. law.
In addition, the Court's concern for "law and order" would not provide a sufficiently "neutral" purpose under U.S. law. Throughout the opinion, your Court referred to the animosity of the majority community against Ahmadis, maintaining that the majority considers the Ahmadi movement "a serious and organized attack on its ideological frontiers" and "a permanent threat to its integrity and solidarity." Under U.S. law, such admitted animosity, alone, would be sufficient to find Ordinance XX unconstitutional. In Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave v. Hialeah, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law against animal sacrifice precisely because the law may have been motivated by the majority community's animosity toward the minority's religious practices. Church of Lukumi Babalu Ave v. Hialeah, 113 S. Ct. 2217; 1993 U.S. LEXIS 4022 at 42-44. As the U.S. Supreme Court explained:
The logic behind this principle is clear and universal. Legislatures are frequently urged by their constituencies to restrict the religious practices of vulnerable minority groups. Thus, it is these minorites that are in most need of constitutional protection. To deny them this protection -indeed to limit their religious practices because of their unpopularity - would, in the Court's own words, render these rights "nonexistent."
This very logic can be applied to the case of the Ahmadis. Ahmadis, as a religious minority, are in most need of Pakistan's constitutional protection. Your Court has an obligation to render a judgement free of religious intolerance and animosity against the Ahmadis. To offer anything less violates the Constitution of Pakistan and the ICCPR.
While the Court in the Ahmadi case referred repeatedly to American legal authority, it failed to recognize that U.S. Constitutional law demands at the very minimum a right to religious freedom. This standard is universally recognized and consistently upheld. To sanction Ordinance XX and its discriminatory impact and religious restrictions is to violate a fundamental and universally recognized standard of human rights. We therefore urge your Court to reconsider its July decision and find Ordinance XX unconstitutional.
Michael H. Posner
cc: Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
(Letter to Chief Justice Saad Saad Jan, April 22, 1994 from the Executive Director of the LCHR, Doc #:DC1:5004.1 DC-1324)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL At least 60 charged for using verses from the Koran
Several members of the Ahmadi religious minority were prisoners of conscience. Abdul Qadeer, Mohammad Haziq Rafiq Tahir, Mohammad Ilyas Munir and Nisar Ahmad were arrested in 1984 and falsely accused if murder during the martial law period (1977 to 1985). Sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment after an unfair trial by a military court, they were still in prison at the end of 1993. Scheduled hearings of their appeals to the Lahore High Court were repeatedly postponed. At least 60 Ahmadis were charged for using verses from the Koran during their peaceful religious activities: one was sentenced to three years' imprisonment and two were charged with blasphemy.
Amnesty International Report 1994
Amnesty International USA
JULY 26, 1994
PAKISTAN BLASPHEMY LAWS ABUSED TO PERSECUTE
Pakistan's blasphemy laws are increasingly misused to punish the persecuted victim rather than prosecute the malicious abuser of such laws, Amnesty International said today as it urged the government to prevent such travesties of justice.
Pakistan's blasphemy laws are so vaguely formulated that they encourage, and in fact invite, the persecution of religious minorities or non-conforming members of the Muslim majority, the human rights organization said.
"One human rights violation after another is piled upon a victim: It starts with the initial arbitrary arrest, continues in a blatantly unfair trial and results in ill- treatment in jail and harassment or assassination by citizens upon release. And if the person is convicted, the travesty ends in an execution by the state," Amnesty International said today as it released its report Pakistan: Use and abuse of the blasphemy laws.
"Many of the recent cases are based solely on hostility towards the Christian minority -- whether the person accused of blasphemy really was a Christian or was just assumed to be one," Amnesty International said. "Often that hostility has been exacerbated by professional or economic rivalry, personal enmity or desire for political advantage."
Of the dozens of people charged with blasphemy, the majority are members of the Ahmadiyya community who have been persecuted for many years for professing, practicing, and promoting their faith. During the last three years, Christians also have been increasingly charged with blasphemy, as have members of the Muslim majority who advance new ideas.
All those now facing a blasphemy charge are, if arrested, prisoners of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released and any charge of blasphemy be dropped, Amnesty International said.
The government should take all legislative and other measures to ensure that blasphemy laws do not lead to the imprisonment of prisoners of conscience. The authorities should also make an unfounded accusation of blasphemy itself an offense.
Amnesty International welcomes the government's recent announcement that procedural changes would be introduced to prevent the laws' abuse, but is not aware of concrete legislative measures taken. Such steps are overdue to prevent wrongful accusations of blasphemy and ensure fair trials.
Pakistan's police sometimes arrest people on blasphemy charges who obviously could not have been guilty of the offense. Salamat Masih, a 13 year-old Christian boy, is totally illiterate but was alleged to have written blasphemous words on the wall of a mosque. Arshad Javed, a mentally disturbed person shouted in the streets he that was Jesus Christ. Charged with blasphemy, he was sentenced to death. His appeal is still pending. Tahir Iqbal, a Christian convert, died in jail in July 1992 under mysterious circumstances after a jail warder threatened his life.
This unfair treatment extends to the courts of Pakistan. Muslim clergy have interfered in blasphemy trials, thronging the courtrooms and demanding that the accused be hanged. Apparently judges are sometimes influenced by the climate of hatred against minorities.
For example, a Christian man, Gul Masih, was sentenced to death for blasphemy on the sole evidence of the complainant who, the judge said, is "a young man ... with a beard and outlook of being a true Muslim and I have no reason to disbelieve him". Two other witnesses testified that Gul Masih was innocent but they were dismissed for being hostile to the prosecution.
If those charged with blasphemy and later tried unfairly can survive their ill-treatment in jails to be finally convicted, the death penalty awaits them. The death penalty is not only the most severe but the only possible punishment for blasphemy in Pakistan after a 1992 change in the penal code.
So far two people, imprisoned solely because of their beliefs, have been recently sentenced to death under the blasphemy laws. They have been on death row for months while their appeals are pending.
Not only are people charged with blasphemy on weak or non-existent evidence and unfairly tried, they often become a target for ill-treatment and attack by official or private citizens -- whether the victim was free on bail, in police or judicial custody or acquitted. Manzoor Masih, a Christian charged with blasphemy and freed on bail, was killed in April 1994 in the streets of Lahore.
A Christian teacher, Naimat Ahmer, was killed by a student who said he thought Ahmer had committed blasphemy in January 1992. In April 1994, Dr. Hafiz Farooq Sajjad was stoned to death in Gujranwala after the loudspeaker of the mosque announced that a Christian had burned a copy of the Holy Qur'an". He was dragged from the police station while officers stood by and his body was set on fire while he was probably still alive, tied to a motorbike and dragged through the streets. He was believed to have been a devout Muslim but mistaken for a Christian.
"Amnesty International fears that government inaction creates an atmosphere for people to feel at liberty to take the law into their own hands," the organization said.
"The government must condemn and take urgent measures against these kinds of violence to make clear it is committed to protecting human rights for everyone in Pakistan," Amnesty International said. "Silence and inaction sanction such crimes."
... Amnesty International has concluded that most of the individuals now facing charges of blasphemy, or convicted on such charges, are prisoners of conscience, detained solely for their real or imputed religious beliefs...
The majority of those charged belong to the Ahmadiyya Community, but Christians have increasingly been accused of blasphemy.
Following legal changes in 1991, the death penalty is the mandatory punishment ...
The changes in legislation relating to religious offenses in recent years have contributed to an atmosphere of religious intolerance ...
Instances of violence reported over the last few years against members of religious minorities have been treated with laxity by successive governments...
... According to reports of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, between 1987 and 1992, 106 Ahmadies were charged with religious offenses on grounds of practicing, preaching, and propagating their faith. In 1992 alone, some ten cases were instituted. In 18 of these cases, the charges included charges under section 295-C under which Ahmadis are prohibited from using Muslim terms and practices...
The blasphemy charges in all the cases known to Amnesty International... appear to be without basis ...
Charges against Christians or Ahmadis appear to be brought solely because they are members of these communities...
Trials of blasphemy cases are invariably accompanied with agitation by local clergy who interrupt proceedings, shout slogans demanding the death sentence and threaten the defendants...
Judges and police are also known to have on their own account, without any discernible objective grounds, altered the charges against members of religious minorities and to have introduced the charge of blasphemy. In the most recent case in early 1994, five journalists of the Ahmadiyya community were charged with "posing as Muslims" and injuring the religious feelings of Muslims, which are offenses under Section 298-C. A judge of the sessions court in Chiniot, Punjab province, who heard their bail application, added the charge of blasphemy and had them arrested on that charge in court, during the hearing relating to their pre-arrest bail application. The report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan for 1992 mentions that in Abbotabad, Punjab province, police on their own accord added a charge of blasphemy to a complaint in order to lend weight to a case. Only when the complainants swore in court that they had only complained of a minor dispute on a land issue and that no religious offense had taken place, was the charge withdrawn and the accused released.
Amnesty International believes it likely that none of the persons charged with blasphemy ...have committed this offense. The charges of blasphemy appear in all cases to have been brought solely for their religious beliefs, often compounded by professional jealousy, economic rivalry, political opposition or personal hostility. Amnesty International believes that those who are in prison on blasphemy charges are prisoners of conscience and urges the government of Pakistan to immediately and unconditionally release them.
The blasphemy laws of Pakistan ... permit, even invite, abuse and the harassment and persecution of minorities...
The blasphemy laws have contributed to an atmosphere of hostility towards religious minorities in Pakistan which has by some people been understood to permit them to take the law into their own hands. Amnesty International calls upon the Government of Pakistan to clearly condemn such acts, to ensure that such acts are promptly investigated, that those responsible are brought to justice and that adequate measures are taken to prevent a recurrence.
PAKISTAN: Use and abuse of the blasphemy laws
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
"...to sanction Ordinance XX and its discriminatory impact and religious restrictions is to violate a fundamental and universally recognized standard of human rights."
"... your court has an obligation to render a judgment free of religious intolerance and animosity against Ahmadis."
Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights New York,
In a letter to the Pakistani High Commissioner in London, Lord Avebury commented on the possible consequences of justifying the suppression of the rights of Ahmadis by alleged concern for law and order:
Lord Avebury ,
From Lord Avebury
February 4, 1994
Thank you for sending me the interesting memorandum on the Ahmadiyya question, which I have read with care.
The basic facts are not in question. It is a fundamental tenet of Islam that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the last of the Prophets, and therefore as Moslems see it, anyone who believes that another Prophet has reinterpreted or amended the message is not a Moslem. But the Ahmadis say that they follow strictly the fundamental tenets of Islam. The founder of their movement, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad said in his book Izala-e-Auhama:
'The summary and essence of our faith is there is none worthy of worship save Allah, Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah. Our belief ... is that our spiritual leader and master, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is the Seal of Prophets and the Best of Messengers'
This was never questioned during the debates of 1974, but it was claimed that the Ahmadiyya interpretation of the term 'Seal of Prophets' was different from that of all other Moslems. There may well be other beliefs held by the Ahmadis which constitute a radical departure from the Islam followed by the rest of the Ummah, just as in every religion from time to time there are reinterpretations of fundamental doctrines. The orthodox may well then challenge the right of the 'heretics' to call themselves by the same name, or to use the formulae of the parent religion, but how can anyone pretend to the monopoly of titles and words? It seems to me that Moslems are perfectly within their rights to say that Ahmadis are not Moslems, and that the use of Moslem words and formulations by the Ahmadis is misleading; but to embody these convictions in the law is a breach of the right of religious freedom and expression. I would uphold the right of a person to describe himself or herself by whatever name s(he) chooses, no matter how unjustified that might appear to all the rest of the followers of that religion. I also assert the right of any person to use the forms of a religion, whether or not the rest of the followers accept the person as one of their number.
The memorandum claims that the restraints in Ordinance XX are necessary for the maintenance of public order, and it rightly points out that Article 29 of the Universal Declaration contains a provision allowing such an exception. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights contains similar wording:
Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.
The memorandum suggests that this exception had to be invoked by Ordinance XX to prevent the destruction of, or harm to, society. It is really not possible to see how an 'insignificant minority', as Abdul Qadeer Chaudhry J described them in his Supreme Court judgement could pose the slightest threat to society. There might be the possibility of public disturbances arising out of resentment against the practises of the Ahmadis, but that I submit would be a very dangerous reason for invoking the Article 18 exception. There was a lot of resentment against Jews in Nazi Germany, officially encouraged by the state, and you know where that lead. It is the activities of the mobs, not those of unpopular minorities, which should be dealt with firmly under the criminal law.
These are my first observations on the memorandum. I would like to giive the matter some further thought, and I intend to consult Article XIX, the international NGO which is concerned with freedom of expression, to see what their views are.
Mr. Masood Khalid,
From Lord Avebury
House of Lords
Dear High Commissioner
We learned with concern of the shooting of Dr. Nasim Babar, 42, an Ahmadi who was Senior Professor of Physics at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, outside his home on October 9, 1994. This followed the murder two months ago of Abdul Hafeez and Allah Rakha, Ahmadis from Samanabad, Faisalabad, and the murders in February of Rana Abdul Sattar of Lahore Township and Ahmad Nasrullah Khan, grandson of Sir Zafrullah Khan, Pakistan's first Foreign Minister and a President of the International Court. All these murders, which remain unsolved, are believed to have been committed by religious terrorists, and we are alarmed about the threats to adherents of all minority religions arising from the violent attacks of fanatics.
These attacks do not take place in a political or ideological vacuum. They occur in a climate where the Government appears to lack the will to combat religious intolerance and fanaticism, and to promote harmony between all communities including particularly the religious minorities. The discriminatory laws and regulations against the Ahmadis, which many hoped would be repealed by the Government of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, not only remain in force but are more vigorously applied than ever. Under the notorious Ordinance XX and the Blasphemy Law, hundreds of Ahmadis have been charged, and scores have been denied bail, apparently for punitive reasons rather than from legitimate fears they might abscond. The Government has not discouraged religious fanatics from attacking Ahmadi beliefs, abusing Ahmadi leaders and desecrating their places of worship. Last month, the boundary wall and structure of the Ahmadiyya complex in Rawalpindi was demolished by the local administration.
We are discussing these matters amongst ourselves. So that we may consider the Government's point of view, I would be grateful if you would refer our concerns to Islamabad, and let us have as full a brief as possible.
HE The High Commissioner,
From: Hilary Naylor
/* Written 6:20 PM Nov 28, 1994 by gn:ains in igc:ai.news */
PAKISTAN: ACQUITTAL OF CHRISTIAN PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE SENTENCED TO DEATH ON BLASPHEMY CHARGE
Following Lahore High Court's acquittal yesterday of a Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy in 1992, Amnesty International is again calling on the Government of Pakistan to introduce legislation which would prevent the abuse of Pakistan's blasphemy law and similar miscarriages of justice.
According to Amnesty International, Gul Masih's story illustrates the many possibilities of abuse allowed by the vague formulation of the law.
He was arrested on 14 December 1991 after a neighbour filed a complaint against him alleging he had uttered blasphemous words during a quarrel. At the subsequent trial neither of the two eyewitnesses to the quarrel corroborated the prosecution's story, and Gul Masih's conviction and death sentence were based solely on the statement of the complainant. Nor did the judge consider the frequent demonstrations both inside and outside the courtroom by Muslim clerics demanding that Gul Masih be hanged to be prejudicial against his case.
Despite previous announcements by the Government of Pakistan that it would introduce procedural changes which would curb the abuse of the blasphemy law, no concrete legislative measures have yet been adopted.
Amnesty International is still concerned for Gul Masih's safety, despite his release from prison -- two other Christians previously acquitted of blasphemy charges have received death threats since their release and are forced to live in hiding.
Those now remaining in detention in Pakistan for blasphemy charges are Arshad Javed -- a mentally disturbed Muslim man -- who has been on death row since February 1993, and around 10 people in judicial custody. There are also several dozen people, mostly members of the Ahmadiyya community, charged with various religious offenses who are free on bail.
The death penalty is the mandatory punishment under Pakistan's Penal Code for anyone convicted of "defiling the sacred name of the Holy Prophet". No one has so far been judicially executed after being found guilty of blasphemy, but at least four Christians charged with blasphemy have died, one in suspicious circumstances in jail and three at the hands of armed attackers.
AMBASSADOR OF CANADA TO UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
"And while Canada appreciates Pakistan's on-going commitment to improving its human rights situation, we continue to encourage the government to address problems, including discrimination against minority groups."
PRESS RELEASE NO. 10
ITEMS 100: (B) AND (C)
HUMAN RIGHTS QUESTONS
NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 29, 1994
PERMANENT MISSION OF CANADA TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AI INDEX: ASA 33/WU 08/94
PAKISTAN: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL CALLS FOR IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION OF SPATE OF DELIBERATE AND ARBITRARY KILLINGS
A wave of killings in Pakistan could plunge the country into a cycle of human rights abuses unless the government acts now, Amnesty International said.
The killings have been concentrated in Karachi over the past 11 months, according to official statements, where more than 650 people have been killed and many more injured because of their ethnic or religious identity or their political views.
Only a very small fraction of these killings and attacks appear to have been investigated by police or official inquiries and very few offenders have been charged and arrested.
Amnesty International is calling on Pakistan's government to establish independent and impartial investigations into these deliberate and arbitrary killings and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Failure to do so will only encourage speculation that the government condones such killings.
"By bringing criminal charges against perpetrators of human rights abuses Pakistan's government would send a clear message that such violations will not be tolerated and that those found responsible will be held fully accountable," Amnesty International said.
On 4 December, Muhammad Salahuddin, editor of the Urdu weekly "Takbeer" was shot dead as he got into his car outside his office in Karachi. He was highly critical of the policies of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) which reportedly led to his office being ransacked and to his house being set on fire in late 1991, allegedly by MQM activists. On 6 December, Mohammad Samdani Warsi, manager of the Urdu daily "Parcham", -- a newspaper which is understood to be close to the MQM -- was shot dead in his office.
Earlier this month, Maulana Sattar Edhi, the founder of a country-wide network of social and health services whose ambulances have often been the only neutral entity to salvage the seriously injured, left Pakistan after threats to his life.
On 8 December 15 people were killed in Karachi, including five supporters of a party of the Shia religious minority, Tehrik- e-Nifaz-e-Fiqa Jafria Pakistan. On 6 December eight people were shot dead inside a mosque in Karachi; its prayer leader was known to be a supporter of a party of the Sunni majority, the Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan. Dozens of people belonging to the warring factions of the MQM, the MQM (Altaf) and the MQM (Haqiqi), have reportedly been shot dead in targeted killings in recent weeks.
Earlier in the year at least six members of the Ahmadiyya community were deliberately killed in different towns of Pakistan, apparently solely because of their exercise of their right to freedom of religion. In all the cases reported to Amnesty International, the police had been very reluctant to register complaints. Police enquiries were reportedly very perfunctory and no one has been arrested in connection with the deliberate and arbitrary killing of the Ahmadis.
Amnesty International is urging the Government of Pakistan to set up an independent and impartial inquiry into the deaths of the two journalists and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
Other reports of politically, religiously or ethnically motivated deliberate and arbitrary killings, including those of the six Ahmadis, should also be promptly investigated and those responsible should be held accountable in order to break the patterns of human rights abuses that has been allowed to develop.
Committee to Protect Journalists Facing mandatory capital punishment
... Pakistan's blasphemy laws were invoked against five journalists belonging to the minority Ahmadi community--followers of a sect that the government regards as un-Islamic and which it bars from proselytizing. Facing mandatory capital punishment if convicted, the journalists are charged with having "misrepresented" themselves as Muslims, offended the majority group's sensibilities and propagated Ahmadi beliefs in their articles.
February 7 Noor Muhammad Saifi, Al Fazal, EElegal action Agha Saifullah, Al Fazal, legal action Qazi Munir Ahmed, Al Fazal, legal action Mirza Muhammad Din Naz, Ansarullah, EElegal action Mohammad Ibrahim, Ansarullah, EElegal action Five journalists from the minority Ahmadi community were arrested and charged with blasphemy for preaching the Ahmadi faith, "passing" themselves off as Muslims, and for having "injured the religious feelings of Muslims." Three journalists from the daily Al Fazal--editor Saifi, publisher Ahmed and printer Saifullah--as well as two editors from the monthly Ansarullah, Naz and Ibrahim, face mandatory capital punishment if convicted of blasphemy under the Pakistani Penal Code. On March 7, all five were released on bail after being held in Chiniot, Punjab province. The complaints against the journalists were related to several July 1993 issues of Al Fazal and a June 1993 issue of Ansarullah. Pakistani law now makes it an offense for Ahmadi community members to practice or spread their faith. By the year's end, the cases were pending in court and no trial date had been set.
Attacks on The Press: An Annual Survey 1994