FIFTY YEARS OF INTERNAL OPPRESSION

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Celebrations of fifty years of the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan, serious human rights issues have been covered up by the respective governments and ignored by their Western supporters. Islamic Human Rights Commission

PRESS RELEASE

14.8.97

FIFTY YEARS OF INTERNAL OPPRESSION
Human rights records of India and Pakistan under scrutiny.

Celebrations of fifty years of the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan, serious human rights issues have been covered up by the respective governments and ignored by their Western supporters.

An estimated 1 - 3 million people died during partition, and the biggest migration ever recorded in history took place. The suffering which so many were willing to endure, was so that inter alia safety for Muslims in the subcontinent would be guaranteed. Fifty years on, and both countries have proved incapable of providing security for its Muslims.

IHRC welcomes the recent release of 830 political detainees held across India after a Muslim procession in Lucknow, India in July. However, an estimated 200 Muslim detainees, including the husband of a British resident have been held without charge since 1992, after disturbances in Gujarat after the destruction of the Babri Mosque. Another British national, Omer Sheikh has been held without charge and tortured by Indian police since his arrest in 1993 for alleged terrorist activities. These are just some of the thousands held under the notorious (now repealed) TADA laws.

Recent months have seen an escalation of sectarian violence and external pressure bordering on civil war in Pakistan. In the last month, the Pakistani government seems to have allied itself with the extreme Sipah Sahaba group, and initiated a victimisation of the Shia Muslim community in Punjab. IHRC has reports of around 320 arrests without charge of clerics and civilians. In the sectarian murder of two lawyers in Lahore two weeks ago, motorcycle gunmen entered a police cordoned area without hindrance and shot one of their victims.

It seems that internal repression in both countries is on the increase, fifty years after a sometimes brutal and callous imperial regime was removed. In this context it is difficult to see what difference there is between the former colonials and the protégé governments they left behind.

IHRC is calling for the release of all political detainees of whatever race, creed or denomination, held in India and Pakistan.

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