Subscribe to South Asia Citizens Wire | feeds from sacw.net | @sacw
Home > Human Rights > Pakistan govt. must file charges against clerics for incitement to (...)

Appeal for Action from Asian Human Rights Commission

Pakistan govt. must file charges against clerics for incitement to murder

11 January 2011

print version of this article print version

The Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Government must file FIRs for attempted murder against the religious leaders calling for the killing of innocent persons

ISSUES: Blasphemy law; religious intolerance; death threats; impunity; no
rule of law

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission received information that on 9 January 2011 according to police officials over 40,000 people gathered in the streets of Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province for a rally. The speakers
of the rally announced over their public address system that anyone showing support for the amendments to the blasphemy laws should face the same fate as Salman Taseer. No officer of the law enforcement agencies or government officials including at least 3,000 members of the police, who were present at the meeting area, moved to silence them or did not take any action despite such death threat was made in in public. It has created serious death threats to the ordinary people of Pakistan.

CASE DETAILS:

On 9 January 2011, a rally was organised by Tahaffauz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat, which is a conglomerate of religious parties, opposed to amendments of the country’s blasphemy laws. It is these possible amendments that were behind the assassination of the governor of the province, Salman Taseer by one of his own security guards. The rally, while demonstrating against the amendments also showed support for the assassin, Mumtaz Quadri. “He is a hero and we salute his courage,” the speakers declared. It is known that more than 3,000 police officers were present, supposedly to maintain law and order. However, when the speakers announced over their public address system that anyone showing support for the amendments to the blasphemy laws should face the same fate as Salman Taseer no officer or government official moved to silence them. The vast majority of the participants were students from the Madrassas. One of the speakers was a member of the banned organisation, Jamaat-ud-D awa which is banned by both Pakistan and the United States; however, once again, no move was made to prevent him from publically representing this banned organisation.

Mr. Salman Taseer was assassinated by police officer Mumtaz Quadri on 4 January 2010 while the other members of his security detail and regular police officers looked on and took no action. Quadri was able to expend 40 rounds from his machine pistol before placing it on the ground before him and surrendering. The speakers announced that if the government was to prosecute Quadri then thousands of ‘Quadris’ would emerge from their houses to copy the example of what he did to Salman Taseer. The liberal and progressive elements of society would be particularly targeted and would face the same fate.

In similar fashion to the lack of action by the police and the security detail during and following Salman Taseer’s death the government has taken no action whatsoever to curtail the hate speeches and religious intolerance by the fundamentalist. Likewise following the rally of the 9th and despite the fact that the speakers openly called for the death of anyone showing support for the amendments to the blasphemy laws the Provincial government of Sindh has taken no action to file cases of incitement to murder against any of the speakers or organisations involved. In a previous Urgent Appeal by the Asian Human Rights Commission, dated 8 December 2010 we called for the government to prosecute the Muslim leader of Mahabat Khan Mosque, Peshawar who urged his followers and all Muslims to kill Aasia Bibi, offering them a reward of Rs. 500,000.00 for the act. Aasia Bibi is a 45-year-old Christian lady who was sentenced to death by a court for committing blasphemy. Her sentence is unde r appeal.

Mumtaz Quadri has been made a national hero by the Muslim religious leaders and throughout the country posters containing his picture are being distributed proclaiming him as a fighter against liberal and secular ideas and even against the United States who is believed to be behind the move to amend the blasphemy laws.

It was believed that immediately after the assassination of Salman Taseer the government would follow criminal and legal procedure in prosecuting the killer and taking action against the perpetrators of the hate speeches that urged him to commit the crime. However, the government’s indifferent attitude regarding religious intolerance has proved it incapable of any sensible action. This is what allowed the rally in Karachi to proceed in turning the country into a narrow minded religious state based on hatred, sectarianism and violence.

Where is the law that should protect the ordinary citizen, be they Muslim, Christian or otherwise from the religious intolerance of one group that declares openly that anyone opposing them is marked for death? Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan explicitly states:

Security of person—No person should be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.

So, where and how is the government enforcing this article? According to Pakistani law anyone threatening to kill another person or inciting a third party to kill another person is liable to be tried for attempted murder.
Section 503 of the Pakistan Penal Code states that it is an offense to:
Threaten a person with any injury. It further states that it is an offense
to: ... cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do
as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat,.......

The government must take advantage of the existence of these laws to rein in any person or party that threatens anyone else with death or harm for whatever reason and bring them before the rule of law. It is vital at this time, when the citizens of the country are living in fear in an extremely volatile environment, that it must show courage. Action must be taken immediately against all of the religious leaders openly advocating murder to any person opposing the ideas and beliefs of the fundamentalists. The Sindh government must instruct the police to file FIRs against the speakers of the religious rally of January 9 who urged their followers and the public in general to kill anyone opposed to the misuse of the blasphemy laws. How is it possible that the killer of an innocent man, the chief executive of the province, is made out to be the hero? What message does this send to society? It is because of the silence of the government that sectarian strife will become rampant in P akistan, not in the months and years to come, but in the days to follow.

The government must ban the distribution and exhibition of any posters portraying the killer, Mumtaz Quadri, as a hero and prosecute him according to the law.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the letters to the authorities mentioned here urging them to take strong action against the religious leaders who addressed to the rally in Karachi, Sindh, calling for death to the people who are asking for the amendment in the Blasphemy law. Please urge the government to courage to file the cases of attempt to murder against the religious leaders and ban all the posters of killer Mumtaz Qaudri which are portraying him as the hero.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to UN special rapporteur on the religious intolerance calling for his intervention into this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/support.php?ua=UAG-001-2011

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Government must file FIRs for attempted murder against the
religious leaders calling for the killing of innocent persons

Name of victim: Ordinary citizens of Pakistan

Names of alleged perpetrators:

1.Maulana Fazlur Rehman,
Chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam

2.Mr. Munawar Hassan,
Chief of the Jamat-e-Islami,

3.Sahinzada Abul Khair Zubai,
President of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan

4.Maulana Yusuf Qasuri,
Markazi Jamiat Ahl-Hadith,

5.Hafiz Hussain Ahmed,
Jamiat-e-Islam,

6.Hafiz Saeed,
Tanzeem-e-Ilami,

7.Maulana Allah Wasaya,
Majlis-e-Khatm-e-Nabuwat,

8.Qari Hanif Jalundri,
Wafaqul Madaras,

9.Pir Abdul Qadir,
Markazi Jamat Ahle Sunnat,

10.Qari Mohammad Yaqub,
Jamayud Dawa,

11.Mr. Halim Adil Shiekh,
Mulim league Q

Date of incident: 9 January 2010

Place of incident: Karachi, capital of Sindh, PAKISTAN.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding a rally of Muslim extremists in Karachi on January 9, 2010 where all Muslim leaders threatened the common citizens of the country to face the same fate as the late governor of Punjab, Punjab, Mr. Salama Taseer faced while cricising the blasphemy law.

It is for my shock that there was more than 3000 police officers and no one has moved to take action against the speakers who were openly threatening to kill and announcing a killer as the hero. No case yet has been lodged against the speakers.

For my knowledge the details of the case are; on January 9, 2011 according to police officials over 40,000 people gathered in the streets of Karachi, the capital of Sindh Province for a rally. The rally was organised by Tahaffauz-e-Namoos-e-Risalat which is a conglomerate of religious parties opposed to amendments of the country’s blasphemy laws. It is these possible amendments that were behind the assassination of the governor of the province, Salman Taseer by one of his own security guards. The rally, while demonstrating against the amendments also showed support for the assassin, Mumtaz Quadri. “He is a hero and we salute his courage,” the speakers declared. It is known that more than 3,000 police officers were present, supposedly to maintain law and order. However, when the speakers announced over their public address system that anyone showing support for the amendments to the blasphemy laws should face the same fate as Salman Taseer no officer or government of ficial moved to silence them. The vast majority of the participants were students from the Madrassas. One of the speakers was a member of the banned organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa which is banned by both Pakistan and the United States; however, once again, no move was made to prevent him from publically representing this banned organisation.

Salman Taseer was assassinated by Quadri on January 4 while the other members of his security detail and regular police officers looked on and took no action. Quadri was able to expend 40 rounds from his machine pistol before placing it on the ground before him and surrendering. The speakers announced that if the government was to prosecute Quadri then thousands of ‘Quadris’ would emerge from their houses to copy the example of what he did to Salman Taseer. The liberal and progressive elements of society would be particularly targeted and would face the same fate.

I am appalled know that in similar fashion to the lack of action by the police and the security detail during and following Salman Taseer’s death the government has taken no action whatsoever to curtail the hate speeches and religious intolerance by the fundamentalist. Likewise following the rally of the 9th and despite the fact that the speakers openly called for the death of anyone showing support for the amendments to the blasphemy laws the Provincial government of Sindh has taken no action to file cases of incitement to murder against any of the speakers or organisations involved. In a previous Urgent Appeal by the Asian Human Rights Commission, dated 8 December 2010 we called for the government to prosecute the Muslim leader of Mahabat Khan Mosque, Peshawar who urged his followers and all Muslims to kill Aasia Bibi, offering them a reward of Rs. 500,000.00 for the act. Aasia Bibi is a 45-year-old Christian lady who was sentenced to death by a court for committing blasphemy. Her sentence is under appeal.

I am shoked to know that Mumtaz Quadri has become a national hero and throughout the country posters containing his picture are being distributed proclaiming him as a fighter against liberal and secular ideas and even against the United States who is believed to be behind the move to amend the blasphemy laws.

It was believed that immediately after the assassination of Salman Taseer the government would follow criminal and legal procedure in prosecuting the killer and taking action against the perpetrators of the hate speeches that urged him to commit the crime. However, the government’s indifferent attitude regarding religious intolerance has proved it incapable of any sensible action. This is what allowed the rally in Karachi to proceed in turning the country into a narrow minded religious state based on hatred, sectarianism and violence.

I call upon you that where is the law that should protect the ordinary citizen, be they Muslim, Christian or otherwise from the religious intolerance of one group that declares openly that anyone opposing them is marked for death? Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan explicitly states:
Security of person—No person should be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law.

So, where and how is the government enforcing this article? According to Pakistani law anyone threatening to kill another person or inciting a third party to kill another person is liable to be tried for attempted murder.
Section 503 of the Pakistan Penal Code states that it is an offense to:
Threaten a person with any injury. It further states that it is an offense
to: ... cause that person to do any act which he is not legally bound to do
as the means of avoiding the execution of such threat,.......

I urge that the government must take advantage of the existence of these laws to rein in any person or party that threatens anyone else with death or harm for whatever reason and bring them before the rule of law. It is vital at this time, when the citizens of the country are living in fear in an extremely volatile environment, that it must show courage. Action must be taken immediately against all of the religious leaders openly advocating murder to any person opposing the ideas and beliefs of the fundamentalists. The Sindh government must instruct the police to file FIRs against the speakers of the religious rally of January 9 who urged their followers and the public in general to kill anyone opposed to the misuse of the blasphemy laws. How is it possible that the killer of an innocent man, the chief executive of the province, is made out to be the hero? What message does this send to society? It is because of the silence of the government that sectarian strife will become rampant in Pakistan, not in the months and years to come, but in the days to follow.

I also urge that the government must ban the distribution and exhibition of any posters portraying the killer, Mumtaz Quadri, as a hero and prosecute him according to the law.

I look forward to your prompt action to provide substantial and comprehensive policy responses on the freedom of expression and prosecution of the religious Muslim leaders who openly justifying the murder of a governor and inciting the religious bigots to kill to who so ever asking for the amendment in blasphemy laws so that laws should not be misused.

Yours sincerely,

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
- 1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
- President of Pakistan
- President’s Secretariat
- Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Tel: +92 51 9204801 +92 51 9204801 +92 51 9204801 +92 51 9204801 +51 9214171
- Fax: +92 51 9207458
- Email: publicmail at president.gov.pk

2.Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
- Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Prime Minister House
- Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: + 92 51 9221596
- Email: secretary at cabinet.gov.pk, pspm at pmsectt.gov.pk

3.Dr. Zaheeruddin Babar Awan
- Federal Minister
- Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
- Government of Pakistan,
- R block, Pak Secretariat
- Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Tel: 92 51 9202712 92-51- 9202712 FAX: 92-51-9202541
- Email: minister at molaw.gov.pk

4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
- Federal Minister for Human Rights
- Ministry of Human Rights
- Old US AID Building
- Ata Turk Avenue
- G-5, Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: +92 51 9204108
- Email: sarfaraz_yousuf at yahoo.com

5. Dr. Faqir Hussain
- Registrar
- Supreme Court of Pakistan
- Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: + 92 51 9213452
- Email: mail at supremecourt.gov.pk

6.Mr. Muhammad Ayaz Soomro
- Minister for Law, Parliamantry Affairs & Criminal Prosecution Service
- Sindh Assembly Building,
- Court road, Karachi, Sindh province
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: +92 21 9211982
- Email: secy.law at sindh.gov.pk

7. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
- High Court Building
- Saddar, Karachi
- Sindh Province
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: +92 21 9213220
Email: info at sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

8. Ms. Nadia Gabol
- Minister for Human Rights
- Government of Sindh,
- Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
- Karachi, Sindh Province
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: +92 21 9207044
- Tel: +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043 +92 21 9207043
- Email: lukshmil at yahoo.com

9. Inspector General of Police
- Police Head office, I. I. Chundrigar road
- Karachi, Sindh Province
- PAKISTAN
- Fax: +92 21 9212051
- Email: ppo.sindh at sindhpolice.gov.pk

Thank you.
- Urgent Appeals Programme
- Asian Human Rights Commission (ua at ahrc.asia)

Asian Human Rights Commission
- 19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
- 998 Canton Road, Kowloon,
- Hongkong S.A.R.
- Tel: +(852) 2698-6339
- Fax: +(852) 2698-6367