Pakistan: Government silences academics speaking about Balochistan

April 14, 2014

FIDH and HRCP have called on the United Nations to look into the Pakistani government’s repression of freedom of expression and of assembly, in response to last week’s forced cancellation of an academic discussion on Balochistan and enforced disappearances.
The authorities are abusing their power in order to silence civil society and prevent people from discussing the serious human rights violations taking place in Balochistan, said Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH.On 8 April 2015, agents claiming to be from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI, the intelligence branch of the Pakistan army) showed up at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and demanded the faculty cancel an academic discussion on Balochistan scheduled to take place the following day. The security agents did not provide any legal basis for this demand, nor did they produce any written document to be handed to the university administration; the faculty and staff at LUMS received repeated phone calls from the Home Ministry and the Office of the Chief Minister of Punjab asking for confirmation that the event had in fact been cancelled.The event had aimed to bring together academics and activists to discuss the severe human rights violations that have been taking place in Balochistan over the past decades, including an alarming number of enforced disappearances.Despite clear rulings from the Pakistani Supreme Court in 2013 and recommendations from the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in 2012 demanding better protection and justice for victims, the Pakistani government has done close to nothing to meet its obligations under the Pakistan Constitution and international law to prevent enforced disappearances, stated Zohra Yusuf, Vice-President of FIDH and Chairperson of HRCP.The cancellation of the event sparked protests from students at LUMS, which were followed by similar mobilisations at other universities in Pakistan. Our organisations support these calls for free expression, and have officially submitted communications to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly to look into the unexplained and forced cancellation of last week’s event and the government’s attempts to silence those who speak out against human rights violations in Pakistan.

Our organisations call on the UN and the broader international community to speak out in support of freedom of expression in Pakistan, and to insist that the authorities respect their obligations under international human rights law.

courtesy: fidh

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Categories: Media

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