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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Beena's Update from Karachi - 2

Update re: the arrests this afternoon, when police rangers in Lahore arrested some 70 human rights activists, including lawyers, artists, women's rights activists and educationists. At the time of writing (12.45 PST), most of them are still in detention.

However, prominent journalist & Director HRCP I.A. Rehman and HRCP Secretary General, lawyer Iqbal Haider have been transferred to HRCP Chairperson Asma Jahangir's house (which has been declared a sub jail where Asma herself is under house arrest). Former finance minister and HRCP Council member Dr Mubashir Hasan, who is over 80, was allowed to go to his own house.

The police surrounded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) office at around 1 pm this afternoon and broke into the hall an hour later, disrupting a peaceful meeting of civil rights activists gathered to discuss the emergency in Pakistan.

The arrests were apparently made under Sections 3 & 16 of the MPO 1960 (maintenance of public order) although the meeting was being held indoors at a private venue and posed no threat to public order. Police had no written orders and are claiming the right to detain those arrested for up to 30 (or 90) days without charge.

The families of the detenues haven't been allowed to meet them, although they were able to send in essential items like medicine and water. They are holding a candlelight vigil outside the police lock up in Model Town (Block A).

Bail cannot be posted for any of them and according to some reports they may be transferred to Mianwali jail tomorrow.

Those arrested include: eminent journalist & editor of HRCP's Jehd-e- Haq newsletter Hussain Naqi, economist Shahid Hafeez Kardar, director of HRCP's vulnerable prisoners' project Brig (rted) Rao Abid Hameed, artists Salima Hashmi & Lala Rukh, educationist Samina Rehman, prominent columnist Imtiaz Alam, secretary general South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), lawyer Bilal Minto, economist Ali Cheema, sociologist Rubina Saigol, Azra Shad, Khalid Mehmood, HRCP lawyer Mehboob Khan and barrister Salman Raja.

The TV stations are still broadcasting news, but cable operators in Pakistan have been made to block transmission - those of you abroad can see what's going on. Here, those of us with access to the internet can get some news - minute 12 of the footage (Urdu) at this link shows the gates of Asma Jahangir's house being sealed, as she is placed under house arrest -

According to the update, some judges have taken oath. However, an unprecedented number of judges have so far refused (around 60, according to some sources).

Besides human rights activists, it is being reported that police are arresting lawyers from small towns in order to preempt the lawyers' strike announced for tomorrow.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan gave a telephone interview while in an Islamabad police lockup - someone videoed it and put it up on youtube -

Message from Harsh Kapoor in France:

"I have created some web pages on citizens statements in response to
the emergency:
I can also set up an easy to use wordpress site with posting access."

thanks Harsh, please do it.

Naeem writes: Monday November 5th will be observed as a Black Day. Demonstration at Karachi Press Club 4PM. Wear a black arm band till the martial law / emergency is lifted and the judges restored.

(thank you beena - keep us posted)


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