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REPORTS OF HUMAN RIGHTS AGENCIES: A
A number of groups and individuals concerned with human rights have commented upon the situation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan. Below are some of their findings, arranged in roughly chronological order. The author has quoted them without permission.
MINORITY RIGHTS GROUP
The government of Pakistan is forcing Ahmadis to adjure their faith and desist from identifying themselves with Islam.…
Much water has flowed down the Rhone since the promulgation of the Ordinance, and Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan go on suffering under the conditions created by it….
The government has taken it upon itself to persecute a religious group. It has legalized discrimination against this community …
A government has taken the unprecedented step of legally depriving a section of its own citizens of their basic human rights …
… singled out … for being denied the cherished freedom of thought, religion and conscience … They are ordered on pain of punishment to abandon their beliefs and accept something else which the government chooses to prescribe for them, however repugnant and revolting to their conscience …
Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan are forbidden since 26th April, 1984 to:
… The Ordinanceis a violation of the basic rights of humanity at large;…
Representative of Minority Rights Group,
Amnesty International Report 1985
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS
International Commission of Jurists,
LAWYER'S COMMITTEE FOR INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
Ordinance 20 … is to have effect notwithstanding any order or decision of any court…
The burden of proof…lies with the accused…
Report of July 1985, published in USA
JUSTICE JULES DESCHENES
… irrespective of anything else, any piece of legislation where the legislator finds it necessary to say at the outset that there will be no recourse of any kind to any court, is already something that should be looked at with suspicion…
Justice Jules Deschenes,
ARRESTS AND IMPRISONMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE AHMADIYYA COMMUNITY IN PAKISTAN
Amnesty International Report 1986
ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Four months after the Sub-Commission adopted the resolution, martial law in Pakistan was fortunately lifted, but with little relief for Ahmadis ….
Concrete evidence of the government's intentions was given just before the termination of martial law by the Prime Minister, appointed by the Head of State, General Zia. In a television broadcast, Prime Minister Junejo denounced the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement as a "liar" and an "imposter"; he went on to say, and I quote,
…. the end of martial law has certainly brought no improvement for Ahmadis.
Mr. Peter Davies,
DEATH PENALTY AND LEGAL CONCERN:
Two members of the Ahmadiyya community have been sentenced to death and four others to imprisonment for 25 years on criminal charges in connection with a reported attack on their place of worship which led to two people being killed. They had been tried by a special military court during the first half of 1985, for murder and rioting.
In view of its unconditional opposition to the death penalty, Amnesty International is concerned that two prisoners have been sentenced to death and may be executed in the coming months. This concern is aggravated by the fact that the prisoners were tried by a special military court, the procedures of which failed to provide minimum legal safeguards for a fair trial according to international legal standards. Moreover, Amnesty International is concerned that the investigation by the police and the prosecution of this case by the authorities may not have been impartially conducted because it involved members of the Ahmadiyya community. Since April 1984 the community has been prohibited from calling itself Muslim and using Muslim religious practices, offenses punishable by imprisonment. Its members have reportedly been subjected to discrimination and harassment, including physical assault, by members of some religious groups in Pakistan without law enforcement authorities providing adequate protection or redress.
In the early morning of 26th October, 1984, a group of a few dozen men were reported to have attacked the Ahmadiyya community's place of worship in Sahiwal, Punjab province. The men are said to have been carrying paint, buckets and brushes, with which to erase verses from the Koran and other writings from the mosque's walls. Present at the mosque were the caretaker of the mosque and some other men gathered there to say early morning prayers.
When the group of men began to paint out the writing on the mosque, the caretaker is reported to have tried to protect the property and the other Ahmadis present. He is acknowledged ultimately to have resorted to firing with a shot gun at the group of men,and two non-Ahmadis were killed. The caretaker, Naemuddin, is reported to have given the police a full account of what occurred and to have admitted responsibility for firing the shots resulting in the two fatalities. However, in spite of this at least six other members of the Ahmadiyya community were arrested, including, it is said, two or more persons not present during the incident. Contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code, these prisoners were not presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of their arrest. Two days after their arrest, on the 28th October 1984, 77 members of the District Bar Association, Sahiwal, reportedly signed a resolution addressed to the Commissioner of Multan Division and the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Multan, expressing concern that a case (against a group of Ahmadis) was registered on a concocted statement… which was absolutely baseless, false and frivolous. The lawyers called for "the local police to be directed to hold an impartial investigation to meet the ends of justice".
In early March 1985, seven members of the Ahmadiyya community were put on trial before Special Military Court No. 62, Multan. These persons were:
1. Mr. Naemuddin, aged about 53, married with five children, the caretaker.
All seven were charged under the Penal Code with murder and rioting.
The conduct of trials before special military courts, now abolished with the lifting of martial law in Pakistan on 30th December, 1985, has long been of concern to Amnesty International. The courts consisted of three members, two of whom were serving military personnel who might not have had legal training. There was also no guarantee of of security of tenure for the courts' members. The courts were constituted and dissolved on the orders of the martial law authorities, who were also responsible for determining which cases should be heard by them. Further illustration of the courts' lack of independence was that the martial law authorities were also responsible for reviewing and confirming the courts' findings and decisions, against which there was, and is, no judicial appeal. On these and other grounds Amnesty International has consistently maintained that special military courts failed to provide a fair trial according to international legal standards.
The trial of the seven members of the Ahmadiyya community lasted approximately two months, ending in late April 1985. Following this, the court reserved its judgement and its verdict was only announced in mid-February 1986; Naemuddin and Mohammad Ilyas Munir were sentenced to death; Mohammad Ishaq Choudhry was acquitted and the other four persons were sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
Rarely has a government so openly promulgated law that primae facie contravenes international law, standards of freedom of religion, the right to non-discrimination, freedom from arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of property and the right to equality before the law …
People flee when they have no protection.
Human Rights Advocates Inc. urges the Commission to act on the request of the Sub-Commission by calling on the government of Pakistan to repeal Ordinance XX, to cease all practices of discrimination, and to restore full human rights to all people in Pakistan.
UN document E/CN.4/1986/NGO 30,
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION for the DEFENCE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES
Mr. Gianfranco Rossi,
HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES
The Sub-Commission asked the Commission to call on the government of Pakistan to repeal Ordinance XX. This is a simple enough request requiring no lengthy study.
Some here say such a call is pointless, because it will be ignored by that government. Such cynicism is unwise. If assurance of compliance were a precondition, many if not most resolutions here would never be adopted.
Further, the government of Pakistan has repeatedly stressed to this body its commitment to respect human rights. The Commission should, therefore, assume that Pakistan would comply with a Commission request to repeal Ordinance XX. The Commission may very well be able to for once avert a catastrophe, in this case one of four million Ahmadis seeking refuge elsewhere.
Dr. Karen Parker,
COMMISSION MEMBER FOR AUSTRALIA
His Excellency, Robert H. Robertson,
COMMISSION MEMBER FOR IRELAND
Ambassador Francis Mahon Hayes,
ANTI-SLAVERY SOCIETY for the PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Those words have a familiar ring. Hitler, too, started slowly.
representative of Anti-Slavery Society for the Protection of Human Rights,
Nasir Ahmad Qureshi and his brother, Rafi Ahmad Qureshi, were sentenced to death on charges of murder following their trial before a special military court. Five other persons were reported to have been acquitted.
Amnesty International is opposed to the imposition of the death penalty in all cases, on the grounds that it violates the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is of additional concern to the organisation that, until the lifting of martial law in Pakistan on 30th December, 1985, the death penalty was regularly imposed by military courts, whose procedures failed to comply with international standards for a fair trial, in particular by denying the right of appeal to a higher court.
Furthermore, Amnesty International received reports alleging that irregularities occurred during police investigations into the incident for which Rafi Ahmad Qureshi and Nasir Ahmad Qureshi have been held responsible. Whilst Amnesty International is not in a position to verify these allegations, there are grounds to believe that members of the Ahmadiyya community, prohibited from calling themselves Muslims and practising Muslim religious rites in Pakistan since April 1984, face discrimination. This may further have prejudiced the right of these two men to a fair trial.
Thus, as for other prisoners sentenced to death in Pakistan, Amnesty International is calling for the withdrawal of the death sentences imposed on Rafi Ahmad Qureshi and Nasir Ahmad Qureshi. Moreover, in view of concern at the alleged irregularities in the investigation of their case and that they were tried by a special military court, Amnesty International urges that they should be re-tried before a court providing all minimum legal safeguards for a fair trial.
Sukkur is an area of Sind province where there has reportedly been regular agitation against Ahmadis since April 1984. The Amir (head of the Ahmadiyya community) there had been stabbed to death on 1st May, 1984.
On 23rd May, 1985, two bombs exploded at a mosque in Sukkur, resulting in two people being killed and at least 12 injured. Members of the Ahmadiyya community were immediately suspected of involvement in this offence.
At least two dozen male members of the Ahmadiyya community in Sukkur were arrested in the days following the bomb explosion. Women and children were reportedly taken from their homes and confined in a camp for several days. When a group of Ahmadis went from Karachi to Sukkur to find out what was happening to their community, they were also reported to have been arrested.
Out of the total number of some two dozen or more Ahmadis arrested, all except seven had been released after about two weeks. Two of the seven, Nasir Ahmad Qureshi, an Assistant Professor at the Sukkur Government Education College, and Rafi Ahmad Qureshi, an attendant at a thermal power station, are sons of the late Amir, murdered the previous year. Another, Mohammad Ayub, a 26-year-old full time worker of the community, was arrested on 27th May, 1985 on his return from a visit to the Ahmadiyya's headquarters in Rabwah. His wife and one-year-old daughter were also taken into custody but were released when the other prisoners threatened to undertake a hunger-strike. The other four arrested were Mahmood Ahmad Qureshi, the son of Nasir Ahmad Qureshi, Hameedullah Khalid, Zafarullah Alvi and Muzafar Ahmad Malik. As of mid-August, the seven men had not been formally charged but were being held under sections of the Penal Code (including the section covering punishment for the offence of murder), the Explosives Act and martial law regulations. At that time no announcement had been made as to whether their case would be proceeded with in a military or ordinary criminal court. Because of this lack of clarity regarding jurisdiction, defence counsel had been unable to apply for bail for the prisoners, as they intended to do should the case be sent for trial before the ordinary criminal courts. (Prisoners under trial before military courts were generally not considered for bail.)
Not until 14th November 1985 was it finally announced that the prisoners would face trial before a special military court, due to commence only two days later.
The trial conducted by Special Military Court No. 33, Sukkur, reportedly lasted some four weeks. Amnesty International does not know the precise charges against the prisoners, but knows that the charges of involvement in bomb explosions at the mosque have been brought under Sections 302, 307 and 34 of the Penal Code covering respectively punishment for murder, attempt to murder and acts done by several persons in furtherence of common intention.
According to the closing address of defence counsel during the trial, there were several irregularities in the conduct of the police investigation into the bomb explosions at the mosque and the treatment of the Ahmadis accused of this offence. Some of these were:
Amnesty International was not in a position to verify these complaints made by defence counsel but believes they raise further doubts regarding the fairness of the trial of these prisoners.
Since martial law in Pakistan was lifted at the end of 1985, special military courts no longer function. However, decisions made by these courts were protected by constitutional amendment prior to the lifting of martial law and cannot be challenged in the ordinary courts in the post-martial law period. General criticisms Amnesty International has made about special military courts in assessing their procedures according to internationally recognised legal standards for a fair trial are:
The trial of the seven Ahmadis in Sukkur was concluded in mid-December. Prior to the lifting of martial law on 30th December, 1985, no verdict in the case had been announced. However, the verdicts of special military courts announced after the lifting of martial law may still be enforced. Thus, on 3rd March, 1986, it was announced that Nasir Ahmad Qureshi and Rafi Ahmad Qureshi had been convicted and sentenced to death. The death sentences were said to have already been confirmed by President Zia-ul-Haq, as was required according to procedure. The two men thus have only one avenue of appeal remaining to them: to submit within 30 days from the announcement of the verdict petitions for clemency, which are also addressed to President Zia-ul-Haq.
AI Index: ASA 33/06/86