Appeal to be filed in Meerwala case: Rashid

Published Mar 06, 2005 12:00am

ISLAMABAD, March 5: Information and Broadcasting Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Saturday said that the government would file an appeal in the Supreme Court in the Mukhtaran Mai case.

Talking to reporters at the PML House, the minister said the decision to file the appeal against the Lahore High Court's verdict had been taken at the 'highest level'.-APP

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference, Mukhtaran said that she would file an appeal in the Supreme Court against Thursday's acquittal of five men who had earlier been sentenced to death for the assault.

"I hope that the Supreme Court will give me justice, otherwise I leave it to the God's court," she said at the press conference arranged by rights groups here.

Mukhtaran was raped for more than an hour at the Meerwala village in the Multan district in June 2002, as punishment for her brother's alleged affair with a woman of the rival Mastoi clan. "Although I am facing threats from my attackers, I will not leave my village and country," she said.

Human rights groups criticized the government and police after the Lahore High Court overturned the convictions of the five men. They said authorities had failed to protect witnesses to the assault, meaning the court had no choice but to uphold the appeals.

"The verdict has shocked me. I had no idea that the court will reverse the punishments," Mukhtaran said.

The rape case had sparked international outrage. Later the same year an anti-terrorism court had sentenced six men to death by hanging and acquitted another eight defendants.

Mukhtaran's appeal against the acquittal of the eight was also rejected by the court on Friday.

'My case is in the court of God': Rape victim seeks justice from SC

ISLAMABAD, March 5: Mukhtar Mai, the girl from Multan, who hit newspaper headlines following her gang-rape three years ago, expressed the hope that the Supreme Court would provide her justice by punishing those who assaulted her, saying her case was also in the court of God.

"My case is in the court of God. I am disappointed over the High Court's verdict (of acquitting five out of six men sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court on August 31, 2002)," Mukhtar Mai told a packed news conference here on Saturday.

Renowned lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan, will plead Mukhtar Mai's case in the apex court.

Mukhtar Mai is again in the headlines after Multan bench of the Lahore High Court acquitted five of the six accused in her gang-rape case -- an incident which had earlier caught world attention as the assault was committed in full public view on the directives of the Punchayat of her village.

"Me and my whole family are in danger. They (the accused) are a constant threat to us. I appeal to the government to arrest them because they are a threat to my life" she said in Saraiki, her mother tongue, after feeling uncomfortable to speak in Urdu.

Mukhtar Mai, whose words were translated to journalists by Farzana Bari, in English and Urdu, said: "Despite these threats, I will not leave my village (Meerawali). I will stay and fight for the rights of the women and men of my village and will continue to run my school to spread the light of education".

She also requested the print and electronic media for help. "Please help me. Keep my case alive. I am in great need of your help", she pleaded with a pale and tragedy-stricken face while keeping her eyes down. She hardly had any eye-contact with anyone during the news conference.

Her voice broke a number of times during her three-minute talk and it seemed as if she would burst into tears but she managed to control her emotions with great pain and agony as evidenced on her face. She regained her composure each time perhaps feeling the strength of a large number of human rights activists and mediapersons surrounding her and appreciating her courage to continue her struggle for her rights.

HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS: On the occasion, a joint statement was also issued by a number of human rights organizations in which they maintained that they were disappointed with the high court's verdict.

The organizations included Pattan Development Organisation, Action Aid, Aurat Foundation, Bedari, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Islamabad Rozgar Mahaz, Poda, Progressive Women Association, Rozan, Sach, Sustainable Development Institute (SDPI), Sungi Development Foundation, Women Action Forum (WAF), International Human Rights Volunteers, Strengthening Participatory Organisation, Uks Research Centre and Iwwa.

"We salute Mukhtar Mai's courage and bravery to fight for her rights. She has become a symbol of strength, pride and honour for all of us", the statement said.

It said those who committed crimes against women were hardly punished in Pakistan. "Legal provisions such as Qisas and Diyat and male biases work against women and deny them justice ", it said.

The organizations have also asked the government to immediately remove all discriminatory laws from the statute books and a gender-based system of monitoring and assessing the performance of judiciary and law-enforcement agencies should be developed and implemented.

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