Letter to officers, councillors, media representatives etc. attending the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games
In the course of your work, you may meet competitors, government officials and others from Pakistan and we should like you to take any opportunities to draw attention to Pakistan’s dreadful human rights record, of which we summarise some examples below.
The President, General Pervez Musharraf, has had absolute power since he took it in 1999 and is therefore responsible for all aspects of Pakistani law and public policy.
1. Under Section 295C of the Pakistan Penal Code, there is an offence (vaguely defined) of “blasphemy” for which there is a penalty of death by hanging. Some people are in prison awaiting trials for “blasphemy”, some have been sentenced to death and some have appeals pending. The best – known case of a prosecution under this Section is that of medical lecturer Dr. Younis Shaikh. Details are available from the organizations below.
2. Many people have been murdered by mobs in Pakistan in recent years. We have no hard evidence to implicate General Musharraf but it is documented that he is unwilling to ask the United Nations to set up bases in Pakistan to:
a) Offer sanctuary and/or safe transport to people who claim to be in fear of violence (whether or not religiously motivated).
b) Carry out video surveillance aimed at identifying those who commit or attempt to commit violence against people and/or property.
c) Arrest anyone shown by video surveillance or witnessed by United Nations staff to have committed or attempted to commit any such violence.
3. In some court hearings in Pakistan, women are not allowed to testify. For example, in a rape trial, the alleged victim is not allowed to testify and even if a dozen other women claim to have witnessed the offence, none is allowed to testify.
4. According to BBC reports, families of some competitors in the Games have been forced by the Pakistani authorities to pledge bonds (similar to bail bonds) enforceable in respect of any competitors who fail to return to Pakistan. (A similar practice existed at the height of the Cold War in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the former German Democratic Republic.) (Anxiety over this matter might impair some competitors’ performances.)
Further information on human rights violations by the Pakistani authorities is available from the following organizations:
T. H. Appleby B.Sc. (Hons.)., M.Sc., C.Eng., M. l. Struct. E., Chartered Structural Engineer,
G. R. McKenzie