LAHORE, Oct 17: The Human Rights Society of Pakistan (HRSP) has decided to give awards to poet Ahmad Fraz, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, TV cameraman Abdus Salam Soomro who videoed a Rangers killing a Karachi citizen and a human rights activist Rubina Feroze Bhatti, a Christian leader from Sargodha.
The decision was taken at a meeting of 15-member of the 31st award selection committee headed by society chairman Senator S.M Zafar held on Sunday.
The selection of awardees was made for the role they played for the rights of the people in their respective fields and the struggle and sacrifices they made for the cause.
Makhdoom Javed Hashmi is a PML-N leader and an MNA who rose against the dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf. The military ruler put him behind the bar for long years for challenging his actions violating the constitutional and legal rights of the people.
Born on Jan 1, 1948, Mr Hashmi holds Master’s degrees in political science and philosophy from the Punjab University.
Before entering active politics, he had been an active student’s leader and president of the Punjab University Students Union. He led students movement against ZA Bhutto. He had been elected as MNA in all elections since 1985 and in the last election held in 2008 he was elected from three constituencies of Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi where he defeated Shaikh Rashid Ahmad from his constituency.
In August 2003, he was arrested from parliamentary lodges for making public a letter he had received from some military officers calling for an investigation in the corruption in armed forces. He was sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment.
In August 2007, the Supreme Court granted him bail but he was again arrested when Pervez Musharraf declared an emergency in November 2007. In jail, he authored his autobiography, “Main Baaghi Hoon”.
Ahmad Faraz, who died in August 2008 was one of the greatest Urdu poets in the contemporary Urdu resistance literature. Although he was a Hindko speaking Pakhtoon, Fraz studied Persian and Urdu at the Peshawar University where he also taught for some time.
During the regime of Gen Ziaul Haq he was harassed and arrested for some of his revolutionary poems in which he criticized the military rule.
After his release, he went into self-exile for six years in Britain, Canada and Europe. On his return he was appointed chairman of the Academy of Letters and later the National Book Foundation. He was awarded Hilal-i-Imtiaz in 2004 in recognition of his literary achievements, but he returned the award two years later as a protest against the anti-democratic policies of Gen Pervez Musharraf (retired).
He also won various national and international awards which include Adamji Award, Dr Muhammad Iqbal award, Kamal-e-Fun award, Naqoosh-e-Adab award, Pakistan Academy of Letters award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Firaq International award (India), Academy of Urdu Literature award (Canada), 2000 Millennium Medal of Honours (USA), First Kamal-e-Fun award (UAE).
Ms Rubina Feroze Bhatti is an active peacemaker and human rights activist hailing from Sargodha. She is the winner of an international Peacemaking Award from the World Vision International for her ceaseless campaign against honour killing, acid attacks and other forms of violence upon women.
She is the secretary-general of Taangh Wasaib Organisation, a right-based group development group working for communal harmony and tacks the issues of violence upon women, religious intolerance, sectarianism and discriminatory laws and government policies against women and minorities.
Taangh Wasaib means longing for the fullness of humanity. She successfully campaigned against the move and the proposed law to include religious classification on the national identity cards.
She also fought against the move for separate electorates in 2000. She was also one of the 1,000 women nominated jointly for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Abdus Salam Soomro is a cameraman of Awaz Television. A Sindhi language news channel, who filmed the shooting to death of an unarmed youngster, Sarfraz Shah, by a Rangers soldier in Karachi on June 8 last.
He has been receiving threats to life from unknown callers after his footage was shown by all TV channels across Pakistan.
Soomro was recording a programme at the Benazir Bhutto Park, where he saw and recorded a man holding Sarfraz Shah by his hair and kicking him towards about half a dozen Rangers men.
One of them pointed his rifle at Shah, who pleaded mercy. The Rangers surrounded him. As Sarfraz Shah moved towards one of the Rangers with his arms outstretched, he was pushed back and shot twice on the hands and a leg.
The video showed Shah lying on the ground pleading with the Rangers to take him to hospital. The Awaz TV director (News), Altaf Memom, said he had informed Rehman Malik and Sherjeel Memon about the threat but no action had been taken and the cameraman had been shifted to a safe place for his security.
He said the cameraman had done his duty and not violated any rule or law. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has also taken a serious notice of the threats to the cameraman.