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Amnesty International, Pakistan flag
Amnesty International, Pakistan flag

Amnesty to Pakistan: End alarming poll-linked crackdown

ANI | Updated: Jun 15, 2018 12:05 IST

New York [United States], June 15 (ANI): New York-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International has appealed to authorities in Pakistan to end what it described as an alarming crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and other civil society members in the run up to the July 25 general elections.
Amnesty International said it is alarmed by the ongoing wave of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, attacks on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
"Key freedoms are under relentless attack in Pakistan, with the authorities cracking down on dissent, whether it takes place on the streets, on television news channels, in newspaper columns, or on social media," Dinushika Dissanayake, Deputy Director for South Asia at Amnesty International, said.
According to Amnesty, authorities in Pakistan are cracking down on dissent taking place anywhere, be it on the streets, on television news channels, in newspaper columns, or on social media.
Amnesty International also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of 37 activists currently detained in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for participating in the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)'s peaceful protests, which called for an end to extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations.
Amnesty's Dissanayake said, "Peaceful protest is a right protected by international human rights law and the Pakistani Constitution. The charge of sedition has no place in a modern, rights-respecting society, and peaceful students should never be tried in an anti-terrorism court. The 37 activists must be released immediately and unconditionally, as they are detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression."
It also expressed its deep concern over what it termed the hours-long arbitrary detention of British-Pakistani columnist Gul Bukhari in Lahore on June 6.
Bukhari's detention came a day after ISPR chief Major General Asif Ghafoor complained at a press conference that social media users are criticizing "the state".
Amnesty feels that this highlighting of several social media accounts of bloggers, journalists, activists and human rights defenders has raised fears that Pakistanis will now be targeted for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression.
"Pakistan once proudly boasted a lively and independent media. This, sadly, has stopped being the case. People can no longer speak or write freely," said Dissanayake. (ANI)