FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: Provincial government of Punjab is instigating violence against Ahmedis
In a follow up development of the arrest of four teenagers and a man on blasphemy charge the representative of the Punjab provincial government, Mr. Syed Saqlain Shah, a member of the National Assembly, has instigated the people of the Layyah district, Punjab-Pakistan, to observe a protest day on February 17, the day on which the arrestees will be produced before court at Layyah district. Some Muslim fundamentalists groups have joined the call and announced a show of strength against the Ahmedis to put pressure on the court not to grant bail to the five persons. The teenagers and the man were arrested on the 28th January 2009 from their houses on the charges of writing the name of the last prophet of Islam in the toilet of a mosque, please also see the [earlier statement titled “Four children and one man have been arbitrarily arrested and charged with blasphemy at the request of Muslim radicals”].
Please also see the investigative report of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
The arrested students and the man were shifted to Dera Ghazi Khan Central Prison, some 160 kilometers from their homes and, despite of not yet being convicted, are being held with hardened criminals. The chances of the teenagers being mistreated are high as it is known that the Muslim groups are asking the jail mates to “fix up” the Ahmedis.
In the area, Chak no. 172, TDA in Layyah district, from where teenagers were arrested, the Muslim fundamentalist groups and members of the National Assembly of the area, belonging to the ruling party of PML-N, have mobilized the people to socially boycott the Ahemadi community. After this announcement the Ahmedis have stayed in the houses and their shops have been locked from outside by some miscreants. Their children have also stopped going to school. The people from the community residing in the 172 TDA village are not allowed to use the roads and have to go to their homes through the fields. Advertisements are published in the local newspapers to have a complete strike on February 26 against the Ahmedis and in support of death penalties to Ahmedis.
The provincial government of PML-N is doing nothing to stop the campaign against Ahmedis which, at any time can be converted in to violence against religious minorities. The province of Punjab is notorious for its religious intolerance which often descends into violence, particularly against the Ahmedis.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Punjab government to stop the violent campaign against Ahmedis and allow the courts of law to function freely and without interferrence. The government should not allow the fundamentalists groups to interfere in the legal process. The government must also guarantee religious freedom to the minorities according to the constitution of Pakistan.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.