Urgent Appeal – Pakistan: Human rights defenders were tortured during jail custody in Gilgit-Baltistan

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-070-2012

10 May 2012


PAKISTAN: Human rights defenders were tortured during jail custody in Gilgit-Baltistan

ISSUES: Torture and ill treatment, religious harmony, displacement, impunity and un-rule of law


Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that the human rights defenders, Mr. Baba Jan Hunzai along with four companions was brutally tortured by the police and military intelligence, ISI, officials while in custody of the jail. The victims were not given access to any medical treatment facilities despite being severely tortured. The government has not taken any initiative to investigate the brutal torture of the prisoners detained in jail. It is alleged that a superintendent of police, a deputy superintendent of police, a station house officer (SHO) and the deputy superintendent of Gilgit district jail were directly helping and instigating the torture with the military intelligence people. The torture victims are kept in a sub section of the jail which is at the top of a mountain where the temperature remains almost at freezing point.

CASE NARRATIVE:

Prominent human rights defenders, Mr. Baba Jan, a socio-political activist, chief of the Progressive Youth Movement, Mr. Ifthikar Hussain, and Mr. Ameer Khan along with two more activists of the Pakistan Labour Party, were brutally tortured by the police and military intelligence, the ISI, while in custody. Baba Jan and his colleagues were arrested during the agitation against the killings of a father and his son by the police officials, including the direct shooting by a high official, the deputy superintendent of Police, Mr. Babar during a protest on August 11, 2011 on the issue of settlement of the victims of the Attabad lake when the chief minister of Gilgit and Baltistan was visiting the place, please see the urgent appeal on the incident. (AHRC-UAC-149-2011 [1])

Recently the jail authorities had taken the initiative to shift Baba Jan and his four comrades to Giglit sub jail which is located at the top of a moutain where the temperature is almost constantly below freezing. The reason behind shifting Baba Jan and his comrades was that some of the other accused persons in the jail who were involved in the sectarian killings of Shiites and others were lodged in the Gilgit district jail and they were intentionally mixed with the normal prisoners. They were spreading sectarian hatred within the jail with the patronage of the jail authorities. Baba Jan and his comrades were resisting the sectarian division within the prison and on many occasions succeeded in preventing the killings of persons from other sects. This put out of favour with the jail authorities and local administration of Gilgit. Also the government was not happy with the actions of the activists of the Labour Party and its youth organization for agitating against the increasing interests of the USA in the area which is on the border with the Peoples Republic of China.

Before shifting the victims to the sub jail Baba Jan was taken out two times from the jail by the police and military officials including men from state intelligence agency. He was interrogated by the different intelligence officials who tortured him. He was pressurized to halt his and his group’s activities in the Gilgit district. On April 28, 2012, in the early morning, when military men and police came to shift him his friends tries to resist the move as they feared that they will be abducted and killed in fake encounter. The police and military men tortured and beat them severely before throwing them into police vans who took them to the sub jail. During the ill-treatment Baba Jan’s hand and several of his toes were fractured. To humiliate him his head was shaved. He hung upside down and beaten. His comrades, Iftikhar Hussain and Ameer Khan were also badly tortured in a similar manner. To-date they have not been provided with any medical treatment.

According to a recent report in the Daily Dawn: “....in early April of this year the Gilgit-Baltistan government shifted the prisoners yet again from the sub-jail Gilgit to the central jail of the city. 57 prisoners, who were being kept in the sub-jail, had been taken to the central jail. These prisoners belonging to a particular sect were brought to the sub-jail a couple of years back after a clash in the central jail over some religious issue. The building of the sub-jail was hired from the education department. Meanwhile, the government has urged media not to publish and give coverage to banned outfits particularly the sectarian militant groups. Recently a joint force comprising 400 personnel taken from police, Punjab Rangers, GB Scouts and Pak Army will maintain law and order. New force would be commanded by an army major and will have two headquarters, one in the home department and the second at the main office of the GB Scouts.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

A massive landslide occurred on July 4, 2010 near the Attabad village in Hunza Valley, causing a heavy loss of life and property. The landslide blocked the River Hunza, which resulted in the formation of a lake, besides inundating about a two-kilometre long stretch of road.The Attabad Lake and the damaged road network of KKH have proven to be a major obstacle for trade between Pakistan and China. The completion of the two projects is a key to utilising the existing trade and energy potential of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Baba Jan was well known for his campaign of “Attabad Lake” which came into existence earlier in year 2010 when a mountain came down into the Hunza River and that has bring existence of the Lake. Due to the change village after village was submerged. In total, over 1000 were displaced and over 25,000 were cut off from the rest of the country.

Pro government people with the direct help of military had deprived the victims “Attabad lake” from the compensation and for their right demand for compensation people were protesting .But police opened fire on protesters when they were protesting against the government for not doing justice in the disbursement of compensation due. After the killing of the young son the father pleaded with the police not to use live ammunition against the protestor however, the police shot him dead without warning.

Gilgit-Baltistan people are well known for their active participation against the improper involvement of the American corporate and State intervention on the economic sector in the region which is against the pro people initiative china in the region. It is believed that this is the shadow reason behind the sectarian violence in that area. In one incident Shiite persons who were going on pilgrimages were shot dead by killers in military uniform [2]. Any kind of social and political activities in the area are seen by the military as anti state activism.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Prominent American linguist, philosopher, historian and activist Noam Chomsky and British Pakistani military historian and political campaigner Tariq Ali wrote open letters demanding the release of Baba Jan Hunzai. Jail authorities have denied access to the counsel for the activists Advocate Ehasn Ali. This is a clear violation of the rights described in “Pakistan prison rules”. The torture issue on Baba Jan and others in this incident provides a bleak picture of the breakdown of the rule of law system in Pakistan. It also reflects that torture is now endemic around the country and it is possible for military intelligence personnel to commit torture with full impunity.

Rules 776 to 809 of the Pakistan Prison Rules, 1978, deal with the issue of medical treatment. Under Rule 787, “...in each prison a hospital for the treatment of sick prisoners is required to be established. In case of illness, the prisoners should be admitted in hospital for proper treatment. Rules also provide for proper medical care and special diet to the patients during their illness.”

In absence of the criminalization of torture, the law enforcement agencies are able to use torture with impunity. The Pakistan government should instigate immediate reforms in Pakistan’s prison system. Baba Jan’s highlights the corruption and dysfunctional nature of the prison system which is linked to the breakdown of the rule of law in Pakistan. For years, thumbing their noses at the criminal justice system, the military has detained hundreds of people on suspicion of terrorism which includes a large number of political dissidents and others opposed to the policies of the military, particularly in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). They have applied inhuman methods including torture, collective justice and extrajudicial killings. Now the military has crossed the line by entering the jails to torture political activists.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write the letters to the authorities, mentioned below, to conduct an independent inquiry in to the torture of the victims during jail custody and ill treatment. Please urge them to prosecute the law enforcement agencies for conducting illegal actions and torture. Laso urge them to release all the victim, provide medical treatment and compensation for their ordeal.

The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishmenthis intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here:
http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-070-2012


SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Human rights defenders were tortured during jail custody in Gilgit-Baltistan

Name of victims:
Mr. Baba Jan Hunzai, detained at Sub-jail, Gilgit, Gilgil Baltistan,
Mr. Iftikhar Hussain, detained at Sub-jail, Gilgit, Gilgil Baltistan,
Mr. Ameer Khan, detained at Sub-jail, Gilgit, Gilgil Baltistan,

Names of alleged perpetrators:
Superintendent of Gilgit District jail, Gilgit Baltistan,
Deputy Superintendent of Gilgit district jail, Gilgit Baltistan,
State intelligence agencies stationed at Gilgit Baltistan
Mr. Baber, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Aliabad, Hunza Police, Gilgit-Baltistan

Date of incident: April 28, 2012
Place of incident: Gilgit district jail

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the custodial torture of four human rights defenders in the Gilgit district jail, Gilgit Baltistan, in the Northern area of Pakistan. To-date they have not been provided medical treatment by the Gilgit authorities and Jail officials.

I am informed that prominent human rights defenders, Mr. Baba Jan, a socio -political activist, chief of Progressive Youth Movement, Mr. Ifthikar Hussain, and Mr. Ameer Khan along with two more activists of Pakistan Labour Party were brutally tortured by the police and military intelligence, the ISI, during jail custody. Baba Jan and his colleagues were arrested during the agitation against the killings of a father and his son by the police officials, including the direct shooting by a high official, the deputy superintendent of Police, Mr. Babar during a protest on August 11, 2011 on the issue of settlement of the victims of the Attabad lake when the chief minister of Gilgit and Baltistan was visiting the place, please see the urgent appeal on the incident. (AHRC-UAC-149-2011)

I am further informed that recently the jail authorities had taken the initiative to shift Baba Jan and his four comrades to Giglit sub jail which is located at the top of a moutain where the temperature is almost constantly below freezing. The reason behind shifting Baba Jan and his comrades was that some of the other accused persons in the jail who were involved in the sectarian killings of Shiites and others were lodged in the Gilgit district jail and they were intentionally mixed with the normal prisoners. They were spreading sectarian hatred within the jail with the patronage of the jail authorities. Baba Jan and his comrades were resisting the sectarian division within the prison and on many occasions succeeded in preventing the killings of persons from other sects. This put out of favour with the jail authorities and local administration of Gilgit. Also the government was not happy with the actions of the activists of the Labour Party and its youth organization for agitating against the increasing interests of the USA in the area which is on the border with the Peoples Republic of China.

Before shifting the victims to the sub jail Baba Jan was taken out two times from the jail by the police and military officials including men from state intelligence agency. He was interrogated by the different intelligence officials who tortured him. He was pressurized to halt his and his group’s activities in the Gilgit district.

I am appalled to learn that on April 28, 2012, in the early morning, when military men and police came to shift him his friends tries to resist the move as they feared that they will be abducted and killed in fake encounter. The police and military men tortured and beat them severely before throwing them into police vans who took them to the sub jail. During the ill-treatment Baba Jan’s hand and several of his toes were fractured. To humiliate him his head was shaved. He hung upside down and beaten. His comrades, Iftikhar Hussain and Ameer Khan were also badly tortured in a similar manner. To-date they have not been provided with any medical treatment.

Pakistan has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and must enact an Anti torture law immediately.

The Pakistani military should immediately stop practices that violate international conventions and basic international legal standards, including illegal detention, collective justice, torture, and extrajudicial killings; and scrutinise the military’s actions when reporting on Pakistan’s compliance with the ICCPR, UNCAT and other treaties.

I therefore urge you to initiate impartial inquiries into the serious allegations of torture by the military with the tacit approval of the prison authorities and the local administration. Please also ensure that medical treatment is provided to the victims who should be given suitable compensation for the torture and violations they have endured.

I hope you will take immediate action in this matter.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,


PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: pspm pmsectt.gov.pk or nsethi pmsectt.gov.pk

3. Mr. Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior
R Block Pak Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9212026
Fax: +92 51 9202624
E-mail: ministry.interior gmail.com or interior.complaintcell gmail.com

4. Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf yahoo.com

5. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail supremecourt.gov.pk

6. Mr. Syed Mehdi Shah
Chief Minister of Gilgit Baltistan
Prime Minister secretariat, Gilgit
Telephone +92-5811-920573
Fax: +92 (05811) 50-201
Email: info gilgitbaltistan.gov.pk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua ahrc.asia)


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