FEARS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN PAKISTAN

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IHRC has grave concerns for the safety of several Muslim clerics, students and ordinary civilians detained under anti-terrorist legislation. Islamic Human Rights Commission

PRESS RELEASE

For immediate Release
31.7.97

ref: PAKISTAN

FEARS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN PAKISTAN
325 in detention, after Punjab raids

IHRC has grave concerns for the safety of several Muslim clerics, students and ordinary civilians detained under anti-terrorist legislation. Five days ago, army and police numbering 500 raided one of the region's most famous seminaries, Jamia -e- Muntazir in Lahore. Those arrested include the head of the seminary Allama Ghulamhusein Najafi, who is in his 60's.

At the time 270 students and 14 clerics were arrested as well as a number of maintenance staff. Since that time, most have been released. However 14 remain in detention without charge. All those arrested were strip searched. Unconfirmed reports say that Allama Najafi has had both his ankles broken by police, and is unable to walk. There are further reports of police and army brutality against those arrested.

A further series of raids across Punjab have taken place, and 325 people remain detained without charge. There seems to be little or no connection between those imprisoned and possible terrorist links. Commentators inside and outside of Pakistan fear it is the beginning of a secular crusade against Muslim traditions by the notoriously corrupt government.

On recent events in Punjab, the Chairman of IHRC Massoud Shadjareh said:

"It is totally unacceptable that towards the fiftieth anniversary of its creation, Pakistan has evidenced such fascist and unjust tendencies. It is a sad irony that Pakistan - a country set up to protect Muslims - is now perpetrating gross brutalities against its Muslim peoples."

The detainees are reported to have been transferred out of Punjab to various village prisons in Multan, towards the border with Afghanistan. IHRC has added Ghulamhusein Najafi, Syed Abdul Jalil Shah, Syed Wajid Ali Shah to their list of Prisoners of Faith.

For more information, please call the Press Officer on 0181 931 1919,
0958 60 74 75 or 0958 522 196