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HRCP roundtable calls for joint regional committees to protect rights activists

November 30, 2023

HYDERABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan organised a roundtable discussion at the Hyderabad Press Club for the protection of human rights defenders in Sindh, and speakers said people working for human rights and against oppression and violence in the society are being threatened in various ways, including implication in false cases.

They said that there should be committees at the regional level of journalists, lawyers’ associations and HRCP, which should play a role in providing protection to social leaders working for human rights, journalists, lawyers and people from other fields. They said that there is a need to work to control cases of blasphemy and forced conversion of girls in Sindh.

This image shows a logo of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on May 19, 2023 —Facebook/Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
This image shows a logo of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on May 19, 2023 —Facebook/Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Addressing the roundtable, HRCP representative Asad Iqbal Butt said that people like Asma Jahangir are born in centuries, and we are the continuation of her movement, and we will move the caravan forward together. He said that we are bound by democratic traditions, and will continue to struggle against bonded labour and cartelism, and for freedom of expression.

Butt said that the issue of missing persons is that they live in a semi-tribal feudal society, and oppression is done through a joint alliance. He said we have to fight together against this oppression.

He said that human rights are being violated in the country despite the country having signed international laws and UNHR charter. The whole family of a person who goes missing suffer. Qazi Khizr Habib of the HRCP said that innocent people are being killed in Sindh, the coast and resources of Sindh have been captured, and national leaders are not allowed to speak.

He said Asma’s mission has to be carried out to perfection. We have to fight for change of the system and against the feudal lords and ruling elite, he said, adding that the establishment is not ready to abide by the constitution and the law.

Sindh High Court Bar Hyderabad President Muhammad Yusuf Leghari said that feudalism and chieftaincy have become a scourge for Sindh. He said there should be coordination between the Bar Council, HRCP and other parties working for human rights. The human rights movement has suffered because the labour unions are not functional in students, he remarked.

Famous writer Taj Joyo said that forced disappearances, domestic violence against children, and forced conversions are core issues. He said there is a ban on freedom of expression, in the Kirthar National Park, Priya Kumari has been abducted, and even journalist Shaukat Nunari is being threatened for raising her voice about the Fatima Furriro case.

In this discussion, former MP Farheen Mughal said that there was a journey of struggle with Asma Jahangir. This is a country where a prime minister was shot dead, and journalists who highlight the truth are being killed, Mughal said.

Qadir Bakhsh Chang, Khamisu Bheel, Raja Bheel, Suba Bhatti, Sunil Shatrughan, Bilal Naghar, Tanveer Arain, Rafia Bangsh, Maria Naveed, Imdad Chandio, Ghufrana Arain, Mustafa Mirani, Wajid Leghari, Dr Hameed Soomro, Mahesh Kumar, transgender persons Ali Shah, Saba Abbasi, and Nadia Lark, and others also spoke.

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Members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan hold a candle-light vigil and shout slogans at the Hyderabad Press Club on Wednesday to condemn journalist Jan Muhammad Mahar’s murder in Sukkur on August 13 and to demand the arrest of his killers — PPI photo