Relatives of missing persons to march on parliament

Published December 9, 2014
Amina Masood Janjua speaks at a press conference in Islamabad on Monday. — Online
Amina Masood Janjua speaks at a press conference in Islamabad on Monday. — Online

ISLAMABAD: Defence of Human Rights Trust Chairperson Amina Masood Janjua announced that relatives of missing persons will march on the National Assembly (NA) on International Human Rights Day (IHRD) and give a memorandum to the National Assembly speaker.

Ms Janjua made the announcement on Monday while speaking at a news conference at the National Press Club. IHRD is observed every year on December 10.

She said as many as 100 relatives of missing persons, wearing orange coloured jackets will start their march from the office of Ministry of Human Rights (near Nadra office).

“Marchers will make two rows and their hands will be tied like prisoners. We will gather in front of the Parliament and expect that the National Assembly speaker will come and receive the memorandum after listening to our grievances,” she said.

“There will be details of missing persons and recommendations for possible steps for the government to take over the issue,” she said.

On April 28 of this year, relatives of missing persons tried marching from D-Chowk to the National Assembly but were baton-charged by police. Thirty people were injured and 12, including two women, were arrested.

Ms Janjua alleged that Pakistan had a record for the highest number of missing persons in the world. She called for the government to take steps to recover the missing persons to avoid further embarrassment for the nation.

“We cannot raise the Kashmir issue or talk about Palestine because Pakistanis are in illegal detention themselves,” she said.

She said a signature campaign by parliamentarians to stop illegal detentions is under way. After the campaign, two lists of parliamentarians - those who sign and those who don’t - will be made public.

Ms Janjua said that it is unfortunate that those who come with batons, cranes and wire cutters are allowed to stay on Constitution Avenue even if they attack state installations but peaceful marchers are stopped.

“The recent incident in which visually-impaired people were beaten up by police in Lahore shows that police only take action against those who are weak,” she said.

She said that every week 12 to 15 bodies from illegal interrogation centres are handed over to relatives.

As many as 70 bodies have been handed over in Swat alone.

Replying to a question, Ms Janjua said she wrote letters to the prime minister, chief of army staff and chief justice of Pakistan and requested for meetings but received no positive response.

“We can go to international court of justice but do not want to defame the country,” she said.

Ms Janjua told Dawn that she submitted an application with the office of the district administration on December 1 to seek permission for the march but no one replied.

“We will hold the march even if permission is not given because recording protest is every one’s right,” she said.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2014

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