Pakistan #humanrights: Raza Khan’s disappearance highlights missing persons’ issue

Video made by friends of missing peace activist Raza Mehmood Khan to demand his safe and immediate return. Case details below. How can you help? Scroll to the bottom of this post for suggestions. 

Raza-fb screenshotPeace activist Raza Mehmood Khan has been missing since December 2. His friends in Lahore last saw him after a discussion he organised against “religious” extremism in Pakistan. After not hearing back from him for some time, they broke the lock on his rented room in the presence of police. He was missing. So was his computer CPU, cell phones and other items.

Find Raza posterPakistan’s Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has bravely decided to summon the recovered missing persons for an in-camera session to ask them directly who picked them up. The Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances says that 728 Pakistanis were added to the ‘missing persons’ list in 2016 ─ the highest number in at least six years ─ bringing the total to 1,219. However, this number is less than the figure quoted by the International Court of Justice which in 2016 noted that at least 1,400 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances had been reported in Pakistan. Many of these missing persons are accused of an armed militancy — but this in no way gives the State an excuse to bypass due process and rule of law.

Over the last couple of years, missing persons’ cases are no longer restricted to conflict areas. “Lately, disappearing people has become a tool to curb any dissenting voice”, say activists.

Raza-Kailash-Malala poster

Raza Khan holding up a poster of Nobel Peace awardees Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousufzai: “Let’s do more”

Read this moving piece by Tulika Bathija, a teacher in Mumbai with whom Raza collaborated through the cross-border youth group Aaghaz-e-Dosti (Start of Friendship) for which he was Pakistan convener. Their projects included facilitating schoolchildren of India and Pakistan to send greeting cards to each other for occasions like Independence Day. Devika Mittal, Aaghaz-e-Dosti co-convener in Delhi, also writes about Raza’s humility, commitment and humanitarian mission.

Tulika and Devika are among the many young Indian citizens who refuse to buy into the narrative that Pakistan is their enemy. They go out of their way to counter the negative image of Pakistan that they believe does not represent reality.

And as a Pakistani working for peace with India, Raza showed a side of Pakistan that media tend to ignore. Raza is the face of progressive, forward looking, inclusive and tolerant Pakistan that the government tries to highlight.

But Pakistan is a dangerous place for those who speak for peace, justice and rights for all and against “religious” extremism. The year 2017 began with the enforced disappearances of five activists prominent on social media. The four who were recovered are still coping with the aftermath of the torture they suffered. One is still missing.

protest-squarePakistanis and friends of Pakistan who believe in peace, inclusivity, pluralism and human rights are calling for Raza Khan’s immediate recovery.

“He spoke as a concerned citizen of Pakistan on the recent protests that crippled the country. His love for his country can be seen through his other consistent efforts on gender equality, workers’ rights, inclusive development and respect for diversity. He stood against injustice and spoke through his research, working with organisations to document and appeal for equality. He dared to come out on streets and protest. He dared to demand and work for change. How was this wrong?”

International rights organisations like Amnesty International, Forum Asia and others have called for Raza’s recovery. In Pakistan, well known human rights activists, media persons and celebrities are raising their voice. International media like BBC, Al Jazeera, New York Times have reported on Raza’s disappearance.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

If you are outside the country, consider writing to the Pakistani authorities listed below and urge them to:

  • Order an immediate investigation into Raza Khan’s fate and whereabouts, keeping his family fully informed and updated at all times.
  • Order an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into this and all enforced disappearances, publicly disclose the findings and bring those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty;
  • End the practice of enforced disappearances and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;
  • Ensure that activists, human rights defenders, journalists, academics and members of the political opposition can peacefully exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association.

CHIEF MINISTER OF PUNJAB
Chief Minister Secretariat
7-Club Road, GOR-1
Lahore, Pakistan
Tel: +92 42 992 04906
Fax: +92 42 992 04915
Twitter: @CMShehbaz / @GovtOfPunjab
Salutation: Honourable Chief Minister

INSPECTOR GENERAL OF PUNJAB
Police Captain (R) Arif Nawaz Khan
CPO Complex,
Bank Road, Old Anarkali
Lahore, Pakistan
Phone: +92 42 992 10062
Fax: +92 42 992 10064
Email: psogigp.cpo@punjabpolice.gov.pk
Salutation: Dear Inspector General

COPIES TO

Pakistan’s ambassadors at consulates and embassies in your country, e.g.:

Ambassade du Pakistan
Bernastrasse 47
3005 Berne,
Switzerland
Fax: +41 31 350 17 90
E-mail: parepberne@bluewin.ch

Point out that such cases damage immensely Pakistan’s image abroad. Raza Mehmood Khan is the face of the tolerant, inclusive, progressive Pakistan that the government tries so hard to project.

Below, a report on missing persons in Pakistan (Urdu) on Dunya TV, Dec. 9, 2017.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FShahzebJillani%2Fvideos%2F10155943228029320%2F&show_text=0&width=560

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One Response

  1. Fabulous information boss.

    Thanks for sharing valuable information

    Great Job
    Tc

    Like

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