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Home Media Reports 2009 AHRC condemns arbitrary arrests of Ahmadis
AHRC condemns arbitrary arrests of Ahmadis
Daily Times, Pakistan
Friday, March 20, 2009

AHRC condemns arbitrary arrests of Ahmadis

* Commission references recent events of murdered couple, arrested men

Staff Report

LAHORE: The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on Thursday condemned the ease with which a member of the Ahmadi sect could be arbitrarily arrested, based on hearsay evidence from an openly biased party.

Referencing two recent events in which an Ahmadi couple was found murdered and 15 men were arrested for gathering at a place of worship that resembles a mosque, the AHRC said these events highlighted the intense discrimination experienced by most minorities in Pakistan. It noted that it was very easy to file cases of blasphemy against most minorities.

In the first cases, the AHRC noted, 15 prominent Ahmadi men in Sillanwali tehsil, Sargodha district, were charged under Section 298C of the Pakistan Penal Code, an amendment that applies only to Ahmadis and carries up to three years in jail. Three of the men have been detained so far and denied bail by a local judge. The amendment to Section 298 claims that Ahmadis should not pose as Muslims, call themselves Muslim, “or in any manner whatsoever outrage the religious feelings of Muslims”.

Protect: According to the AHRC, the 15 men in Sargodha can expect little help from the police. Rather than allowing this discrimination and violent persecution to continue, the commission added, the government must recognise the right to life of every Pakistani, and start protecting and compensating those it has helped to make vulnerable through such amendments as Section 298C. In the second incident reference by the AHRC, a prominent Ahmadi couple was found murdered in their apartment in Wapda Colony, Multan Rd, approximately three months after they started to receive anonymous death threats. The threats warned them against practising their religion, but their family advised them against taking the case to the police, claiming this would make them more vulnerable. The family is currently fearful about following through with the murder case.

According to the commission, more than a 1,000 Ahmadis are estimated to be in Pakistan's jails on charges of blasphemy, which carries the death penalty. It claims that many of these convictions are a part of personal vendettas or land disputes. The commission also points out that over the past 24 years, at least 100 Ahmadis have been lynched and murdered; 18 of them doctors.

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