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Urgent Action Update: Activists Reunite with Families; One Still Missing (Pakistan: UA 5/17)

Urgent Action
February 7, 2017

Human rights activists Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, and Ahmed Raza Naseer returned home between 27 – 29th January after being subjected to a suspected enforced disappearance in early January by security forces in Pakistan. Another activist, Samar Abbas, is still missing; his fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Four activists who had gone missing in Pakistan at the beginning of January, in a suspected enforced disappearance by security forces, returned home between 27th and 29th January. Academic and poet, Salman Haider, and bloggers Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer and Waqas Goraya were reported safe after reuniting with their families after over 3 weeks of being missing. Asim Saeed, a Singapore based blogger and IT expert who was abducted while visiting Lahore, has since left the country, in fear for his life. The families of the activists have since received death threats allegedly from banned armed group Laskar-e-Jhangvi. A fifth activist- Karachi based Samar Abbas, who headed the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan, had also gone missing from Islamabad on 7 January where he had travelled to for work. His whereabouts still remain unknown.

All five activists used online platforms, such as Facebook, to disseminate their views on human rights issues in Pakistan. They all, in particular, criticised religious militancy and Pakistan’s military establishment.
Since their disappearance, sections of the Pakistani media and the internet have accused the activists of “anti-state” activities, linking them with an allegedly blasphemous page on Facebook called ‘Bhensa’, and in some cases, instigating violence against them. This is extremely worrying given that a simple accusation of blasphemy can lead to death threats and often mob violence in Pakistan. Amnesty International’s recent report ‘As Good as Dead: The Misuse of the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan’ details a number of cases that illustrate the potentially fatal consequences of a blasphemy allegation.

1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
  • Expressing concern that Samar Abbas may have been subjected to enforced disappearance and urging the Pakistani authorities to  immediately disclose his fate and whereabouts if he is in their custody;
  • Calling on the authorities to guarantee the safety of the activists and that of their families’, in light of the threats they have received, and urging them to conduct an independent and transparent investigation into their abduction, and hold all those suspected of criminal responsibility to account in trials before ordinary civilian courts that meet international standards and without recourse to the death penalty;
  • Urging the government to take immediate action to investigate all those who have incited violence against the five activists and other human rights defenders and journalists.
Contact these two officials by 17 March 2017:
President of Pakistan
Honourable Mr Mamnoon Hussain    
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: +92 51 920 8479
Salutation: Your Excellency
 
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