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[act] ALERT for ACTION from Pakistan

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    PLEASE ACT NOW, AND CIRCULATE THIS WIDELY ! (South Asia Citizens Web) ================================ URGENT-URGENT-URGENT ALERT for ACTION re MURDER OF
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 12 2:49 PM
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      PLEASE ACT NOW, AND CIRCULATE THIS WIDELY !
      (South Asia Citizens Web)
      ================================

      URGENT-URGENT-URGENT

      ALERT for ACTION re MURDER OF SAMIA SARWAR/SAMIA IMRAN
      & THREATS TO HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS

      Dear Friends, We very urgently need your help in the aftermath of the
      cold-blooded and planned murder - rather execution - of Samia Sarwar (also
      known as Samia Imran - her husband's name) in the office of her counsel,
      Hina Jilani of AGHS, a well-known legal aid and human rights group in
      Lahore run by Hina Jilani and her sister, Asma Jahangir, Chairperson of the
      Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and UN Special Rapporteur on
      Extra-Judicial Killings.

      On April 6th 1999Samia was deliberately murdered by her mother, paternal
      uncle and father - the latter being the president of the Peshawar Chamber
      of Commerce. Though the case has been registered, no arrests have been made
      so far. Meanwhile, the family is using all its influence to orchestrate a
      campaign threatening the lives of Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani and other
      supporters of women in distress.

      Urgent action is needed because:
      to date no arrests have been made and it is feared that the accused will
      use their influence to evade justice;
      there is an immediate danger to the lives of those who supported Samia.

      Action Needed

      Please publicise as widely as possible, notably to the press and business
      communities

      Please URGENTLY write to

      The Prime Minister
      primeminister@...

      Fax: (92-51) 920 8890
      (92-51) 920 1545
      (form of address: 'Dear Sir' or 'Dear Prime Minister')

      The Minister of Interior, Federal Government of Pakistan
      FAX: (92-51) 920 2624
      interiorminister@...

      The Minister of Information, Federal Government of Pakistan
      mushahid@...

      The Chief Minister of Punjab
      FAX (92-42) 920 0160

      The Chief Minister of NWFP
      FAX (92-91) 921 0707

      The Inspector General, Police, Punjab
      FAX (92-42) 921 0064

      The Inspector General, Police, NWFP
      FAX: (92-91) 921 0331

      The Pakistan Mission to the United Nations (New York)
      pak@... and

      The local Pakistani Embassy in your country

      Demanding the following:
      1. Immediate and full protection to Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani,
      Shahtaj Qizalbash and other human rights activists.
      2. The case against the murderers of Samia Sarwar/Samia Imran be
      investigated by senior officers able to resist the political and social
      pressures being mounted.
      3. The administration must take immediate action against all those
      inciting violence against Asma Jahangir, Hina Jilani and human rights
      activists in general.
      4. Police protection to all government-run and independent shelters
      for women.
      5. The NWFP administration fully investigates how a government
      servant, Habibur Rehman, was in the employment of Samia's family.

      If you can only e-mail please send your message to sgah@...
      and sgah@...
      We shall try and get the e-mails and forward.

      PLEASE DO NOT MENTION Shirkat Gah's name in any of your protest messages.
      We will be keeping you updated.

      THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT

      Farida Shaheed
      for
      Shirkat Gah Women's Resource Centre

      The facts of the case
      Background
      29 year old Samia Sarwar, a resident of Peshwar (NWFP province, Pakistan)
      arrived at the office of AGHS on March 26th asking for assistance in
      divorcing her husband. Her father is the current President of the Peshawar
      Chamber of Commerce, her mother a gyneacologist.

      Married some ten years ago to her first cousin (son of her maternal aunt),
      Samia had been physically abused and tortured for many years by her addict
      husband. She moved into her parents home in April 1995 after her husband
      had thrown her down the stairs when she was pregnant with her second child.
      She asked her parents help in getting divorced, but her parents refused.

      The Incident:
      Using the opportunity of her parents being away on pilgrimage, she arrived
      in Lahore alone (26th March 1999) and approached AGHS for assistance. She
      was given shelter at DASTAK (a women's shelter started by Hina Jilani and
      run with AGHS) with the reference of the Principal of Quaid-e-Azam Law
      College.

      Samia's paternal uncle, Yunus Sarwar, followed her to Lahore and asked to
      see her. She refused saying she feared she would be killed. He then told
      her counsel that the family wanted to avoid a court case. It was therefore
      agreed not to register a divorce case on her behalf for the time being.
      >When her parents returned from haj, they requested a meeting with Samia who
      >refused to meet the father but agreed to meet her mother provided she was
      >alone.

      The mother arrived at AGHS accompanied by the uncle and another man, later
      identified as Habibur Rehman, a driver apparently employed in the
      Directorate of Education, Peshawar. The mother entered the counsel's room
      where the meeting was to be held accompanied by Habib. When the counsel
      immediately told the man to leave, the mother said (in English): "he's my
      helper. I need assistance since I can't walk."

      Habib pulled out a gun and shot her through the temple. Hina Jilani
      narrowly escaped one of the bullets fired by him. In the ensuing confusion,
      the mother and Habib left the room, rejoined the uncle Yunus in the office
      waiting area and ran down the stairs.

      Yunus took hostage Shahtaj Qizalbash, AGHS's paralegal coordinator and the
      only office person who had not been able to take cover. Holding Shahtaj at
      gunpoint, Yunus and Samia's mother then escaped the building in a rickshaw
      commandeered from in front of the AGHS office. Although the rickshaw
      licence number was supplied by a private security firm (that gave chase) to
      the Police, the vehicle reached Falettis Hotel, where Samia's father was
      waiting. In Shahtaj's presence he asked Yunus "Have you done the job?"

      On April 7 a delegation of human rights activists met the Home Secretary
      and DIG Lahore. In this meeting, the delegation expressed their concerns
      that:
      although a case was registered on the evening of 6th April (nominating
      Samia's father, mother and uncle), no arrest had been made;
      the investigation must include all abettors to the crime;
      police must keep human rights activists abreast of all developments in the case;
      the nominated accused must be placed on the Exit Control List, ensuring
      that they are not able to evade justice by fleeing the country;
      the state must provide adequate protection to all shelters, whether run by
      the government or independently, to ensure the safety of all women in
      shelters and all those providing them support;

      The administration and police gave the delegation assurances that the case
      would be fully and impartially investigated by a senior police officer,
      capable of resisting any pressure brought to bear on him to subvert the
      investigation.

      Threats to Human Rights Activists & a Campaign of Misinformation

      Meanwhile, Samia's family has launched an attack on human rights activists,
      focusing by name on Samia's counsel, Hina Jilani and her sister Asma
      Jahangir Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Their
      attack has included:
      Organising a meeting of members of the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce and
      ulema on April 8 which supported Samia's murder as being in keeping with
      tribal laws. This meeting also issued fatwas denouncing Asma Jahangir as a
      kafir, and asking that she be punished according to tribal and Islamic law;

      Attempting to register a counter-case, accusing AGHS of being responsible
      for Samia's death;
      planting misinformation in the press regarding both the circumstances in
      which Samia came to AGHS and the actual murder;
      organising a public demonstration on April 9 of businessmen and religious
      fanatics in Peshawar where statements were issued that they will take the
      law into their own hands and kill Asma.

      This is entire campaign is clearly designed to terrorise all those who
      support women in distress and to subvert justice in this particular case.

      We attach/enclose:

      Women's Action Forum statement on the murder of Samia Sarwar
      Shirkat Gah's Statement on the murder
      Press Statement from Asma Jahangir
      Press Statement from Hina Jilani

      WAF Statement: The Murder at AGHS

      The gruesome murder at the office of AGHS Legal Aid Centre illustrates the
      degree of brutalisation in society where parents can plan and execute the
      murder of their daughter for daring to exercise her rights as sanctioned by
      both law and religion.

      What is most shocking is the way in which 'honour' is used as a
      justification for crimes of extreme violence against women. Unfortunately,
      the judiciary by accepting the plea of 'grave and sudden provocation', or
      by simply accepting anachronistic and barbaric codes of conduct,
      legitimises brutal customs and crimes in the name of 'honour' and cultural
      practice.

      What needs to be questioned are the oppressive and inhumane social norms
      that transform homes into places of violence and danger, and thereby compel
      women to leave them to seek shelter and secure their rights elsewhere.
      Sanctuaries like Dastak and the Dar-ul-Amans need to be lauded, not
      condemned, for the role they play in protecting women from the violence
      within the home as well as exploitation by unscrupulous elements outside.

      Saima's murder at the hands of her own family should compel us to question
      the values we uphold in the name of tradition. It is time that as a
      society, we raised our voices against bloodthirsty customs and practices in
      which people take the law into their own hands. It is important that in
      this matter the media play a responsible role instead of vilifying either
      the victim or those who are courageous enough to speak out against these
      crimes at the cost of personal safety.

      The administration must show their good faith by taking serious steps to
      apprehend the killers regardless of their position in society and
      connections in high places.

      Neelam Hussain
      For The Working Committee
      Women's Action Forum, Lahore

      Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre

      PRESS RELEASE

      9-4-99

      Shirkat Gah - Women's Resource Centre condemns the statements and fatwas
      issued by the ulema in the meeting of the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce on
      8-4-99 in relation to the brutal murder of Samia Imran at the office of her
      counsel in Lahore.

      By condoning the murder of Samia in the name of tribal traditions the ulema
      have clearly committed an act of sedition against the law of the land.
      Furthermore they are inciting people to acts of violence and the murder of
      all those who would and do act within the parametres of Pakistan's laws.
      It is bad enough that such statements were made by religious fanatics. It
      is abominable that the Peshawar Chamber of Commerce (supposedly a
      respectable institution), instead of condemning the criminal action of its
      president, Ghulam Sarwar Mohmind who is the nominated accused alongwith his
      wife and brother organised such a meeting.

      The statements of the ulema are open acts of war against the laws of the
      state of Pakistan. It is disgraceful that at the end of 20ieth century the
      writ of the Pakistan state is being eroded in such a cavalier fashion with
      little resistance from the state, and that the citizens of this country are
      being held hostage through violent means to the will of criminal-minded
      elements.
      It is regretable that despite assurances given to human rights activists by
      the Home Secretary, Punjab and DIG Lahore, none of the nominated accused
      has so far been arrested.

      Shirkat Gah calls upon the government of the NWFP and the Federal
      Government to take immediate note of this and to take punitive action
      against such public declarations.
      We call upon all the other Chambers of Commerce to condemn this act and to
      ensure that an apology is forthcoming from the Peshawar Chamber.

      We call upon the administration to ensure that a high-level and impartial
      investigation is carried out and that the culprits are caught and brought
      to justice.
      We call upon all right-minded citizens and public representatives to
      support the efforts to bring all those involved in the cold-blooded murder
      against Samia to book.


      PRESS STATEMENT FROM ASMA JAHANGIR
      After the brutal murder of Samia Imran there is an attempt by certain
      elements to save the murderers from the law and to pressurize the
      government, the administration and the police. To further their designs
      they have initiated a campaign of vilification, misinformation and
      incitement against me. Threats to kill me are being made publicly and
      people are being exhorted to commit violence against me.

      Are we living in a lawless society, where there is no respect for human
      life or dignity of the person? An incident in which a client is killed in
      the office of her lawyer, shows that sanctity of law and constitution have
      been completely eoded. We have a right not only to protest against such
      barbaric acts, but also to point towards the social attiudes that become
      the cause of the commission of such crimes.

      The government has shown compl;ete insensitivity towards this naked
      violation of the rule of law. Why has the government failed to take action
      against persons publicly announcing their intent to kill me and are
      blatantly publicizing this threat with their names through the press. I
      want to warn the government that they will be fully resonsible for any harm
      that comes to me because of their fauilure to perform their legal and
      constitutional duty.

      PRESS STATEMENT FROM HINA JILANI

      Barrister's bacha's press conference on behalf of Saima Imran's family is a
      ham-handed attempt at concoting a false version of the incident that
      happened in my office on 6.4.99. This has been done deliberately to save
      the real culprits from the consequences of their criminal act. Saima Imran
      was a client who had been referred to me by the Principal of the
      Quaid-e-Azam Law College, Lahore. She had sought refuge at "Dastak" on the
      ground that she feared for her life at the hands of her parental family, as
      they were opposed to her seeking a divorce. Members of her family including
      the accused persons namely her mother, father and uncle had earlier
      approached my office to meet Saima. My office had, as per our policy, not
      only conveyed their message to Saima, but had dealt with them with courtesy
      and grace every time they had come to our office. Saima had refused to meet
      anyone but her mother, whom she did meet in the office of AGHS prior to the
      day of occurrence. She had repeatedly expressed fear of being killed at the
      hands of her family. She was in the process of filing a suit for
      dissolution of marriage, for which site was receiving legal aid in my
      office.

      On the day of occurrence at about 6 p.m. Saima Imran and I were in my
      office discussing her case, when four persons entered my office, one of
      whom was her mother, who is the only one that I recognize. The killer who
      was with the mother opened fire on Saima as soon as he entered the office.
      No words were exchanged either between the mother and daughter or with me.
      This was a pre-planned occurrence. The man had entered my office armed with
      a weapon. Saima's uncle Younas accused was also on the premises and was
      also armed with a weapon. My colleague, Shahtaj Qizilbash, was taken
      hostage by him, and he escaped by holding her as cover. The killer was shot
      by a police guard after he was fired upon by the killer in his attempt to
      run away after murdering Saima. Saima's mother and uncle took Shahtaj away
      with them as hostage.

      The real facts of this incident are recorded in a timely registered FIR.
      There are many witnesses to this occurrence. The attempt of Barrister
      Baccha or the family of the murdered girl to fabricate malicious stories
      against me will not succeed.



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