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KARACHI: HR activists demand end to jirgas

December 11, 2005

KARACHI, Dec 10: Various functions were organized by different organizations on Saturday to celebrate the International Human Rights Day which is celebrated around the globe on Dec 10 every year.

Speakers at a function, organized by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan at the YMCA, criticized the government for failing to protect the rights which were being violated and the state apparatus was unable to protect rights.

The speakers – HRCP secretary-general Iqbal Haider, HRCP Sindh vice chairperson Zohra Yusuf, and HRCP councillors Ghazi Salahuddin, Asad I. Butt, Akhtar Baloch and others – said that over 1,796 people had been killed in the province between 2000 and 2005 under the garb of karo-kari or honour killing.

They said though the Sindh High Court had declared holding of jirgas illegal and had ordered that no jirgas be held, over 197 jirgas had been held which had been presided by the chief minister, federal as well as provincial ministers, which shows how much respect the government functionaries have for judiciary.

They also said over 1,000 people had been killed in sectarian killings, ethnic violence, political killings, targeted killings and robberies.

They said over 700 people, including 400 men and 300 women, had committed suicides in the province during the year, showing how helplessness the people were.

The pointed out that the bureaucracy, including the one in uniform, had systematically discredited politicians through propaganda.

They said that student unions, which are like nurseries from where the future leadership grows, have been banned, restricting the thinking of students. They said that the people had been depoliticized.

They said that right to speak and freedom of association were the basic human rights which must be guaranteed by the government.

They demanded that all basic human rights of the people be restored, and information regarding rights be included in the syllabus so that awareness about basic human rights is increased.

They said that though the government had signed various international conventions, like Convention on Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), it had not made local laws in conformity with its international commitments.

They also demanded that the government should also sign other international conventions against torture, social, cultural, economic rights etc.

Earlier, schoolchildren presented tableaus and skits highlighting various human rights issues.

A musical function was also held in which national and folk songs were presented by children. They also painted outer wall of the YMCA along Maulana Din Mohammad Wafai Road with pictures and slogans on friendship.

JUVENILE JAIL: The inmates of the Youthful Offenders Industrial School (Juvenile Jail) and the Special Prison for Women enjoyed a four-hour long music- cum-sports programme, organized jointly by the Federal Human Rights Ministry and artist Jimmy Engineer on Saturday to celebrate the International Human Rights Day.

Sonia, Rubab, Musliha, Rahat, Afshan, Komal, Ozair, Sohail and Afshan, led by the senior colleague Mohammad Saleem and music teacher Master Riaz Hussain had come from Ida Rieu School and College for the Deaf and Blind to entertain jail inmates on the human rights day.

A few inmates of the Juvenile prison – Mohammad Abbas, Sherbaz and Abid Hussain – also presented Pashto and Sindhi folk songs. Earlier, a magic show was held and the magician amused inmates with his tricks for over an hour.

Human Rights Dirctor Mazahir Hussain, social worker Jimmy Engineer, Jail Superintendent Sheeba Shah, Maj (retd) Nazrul Islam and others told the inmates that during their stay at the prison they should learn some skills that are being taught in the jail, so that when they came out of the prison, they could earn a respectable livelihood.

They said that owing to bad company the inmates had committed crimes owing to which they were in the prison, but they should make a commitment that after their release, they would never commit any crime and would remain law-abiding citizens.