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Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stopped

from publishin its newsletter

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), one of the largest and most effective human rights NGOs in South Asia has come under attack from the Pakistan Government. The Government of Pakistan's Punjab province, has recently stopped HRCP from publishing its quarterly newsletter. This has been done apparently because HRCP had not submitted two copies of the newsletter to the Home Department of the Punjab Government. The Punjab Government claims that a notice was issued to HRCP some time ago.

However, HRCP's Executive Director Mr. I A. Rehman has said that no such notice was received by HRCP. He has also pointed out that HRCP has been regularly sending copies of all its publications to the concerned departments of the Provincial Government of Punjab as well as to those of the Federal Government of Pakistan. Mr. Rehman told us that the order stopping publication of HRCP's quarterly newsletter was illegal as it was issued under an ordinance which was withdrawn in 1997. He felt that the move was a part of the government's policy of harassment of human rights organisations.

South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) was informed by a spokesperson of HRCP today about further attempts to harass HRCP. Last week, in Peshawar, the provincial capital of North West Frontier Province of Pakistan the local police registered a complaint which implicates the Chairperson of HRCP, Ms. Asma Jahangir and her sister Ms. Hina Jilani in the murder of Ms. Samia Sarwar/Imran. On April 6, 1999, Ms. Samia was brutally murdered in broad daylight in the office of AGHS Legal Aid Centre in Lahore Ms. Asma Jahangir and Ms. Hina Jilani who are associates of AGHS Leagal Aid Centre were defending the late Ms. Samia Sarwar in a case against her family which refused to recognise her marriage to a person outside her tribe. The family members of Ms. Samia had threatened to kill both her and her husband. The killing had taken place in the law office when she had gone to consult Ms. Hina Jilani, her lawyer. The killers of Ms. Samia Sarwar have not been apprehended till date. They have also threatened to kill Ms. Jahangir and Ms. Jilani. Now the Peshwar police have lodged a camplaint against them as accomplices in the murder of Ms. Samia Sarwar. It appears that the authorities are determined to put pressure on leading human rights activists in Pakistan.

This information is released by SAFHR to seek your support and solidarity. You may also contact HRCP at <hrcplhe@brain.net.pk>. Ms. Asma Jahangir is the Chairperson of HRCP. Mr. I. A. Rehman is the Executive Director.
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