Pakistan News

Rights defenders rally against ‘badfellas’

Rights defenders rally against ‘badfellas’

LAHORE: Sachal Nadeem was the youngest demonstrator at the Liberty Roundabout where a large number of civil society activists had gathered on Thursday evening.

“I am here to protest against bad people,” said the six-year-old kindergarten student who was carrying a placard which read: “Yes, I am a human rights defender.”

Acclaimed artist, cultural writer and painter Salima Hashmi too was holding the same placard nearby at the demonstration arranged by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan primarily to commemorate Human Rights Defenders Day and to pay tribute to those who have `paid with their lives for striving for human rights for all.’

“Nisaar mein teri galiyon kay aye watan kay jahan, Chali hay rasm kay koi na sar utha kay chalay,” she recalled a verse of her illustrious father while regretting: “Everyone knows who killed Rashid Rehman a year ago but even a case has not been registered.”

Terming Sabeen Mahmood a courageous daughter of Pakistan, she said the country has numerous brave women and men who would continue to demand justice for all.

Senior journalist Hussain Naqi said Rashid Rehman decided to represent a blasphemy suspect “in a society where bigots believe that those accused do not have the right to defence. The judge hearing proceedings in the blasphemy case did not take the threats made to Rehman seriously -- an advocate blatantly pronounced a death sentence for Rehman in an open court.”

A federal minister under prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Dr Mubashar Hasan regretted that the poor were becoming poorer because the rulers were implementing policies which were tantamount to `economic terrorism.’

“There is no accountability in the country. It seemed the state is unwilling to promote the culture of tolerance and is unable to stop those who kill with impunity.”

Elderly rights activist MI Khan said he had come to express “solidarity with the martyred media persons.” Retired Air Marshal Zafar Chaudhry said that killing a lawyer merely for representing an accused could neither be justifiable nor humane.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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