Thursday, 26 June 2014

Enforced disappearance of a political activist following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers

Enforced disappearance of a political activist following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers
Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-097-2014  26 June 2014
ISSUES: Disappearance, torture, extra judicial killing, impunity
Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information of an incident where a political activist has been made to disappear following arrest by the Pakistan Rangers; his whereabouts are since unknown. Police have refused to file a case of the disappearance citing that in instances of paramilitary arrests police have no jurisdiction to file charges.   The provincial government too has shown no interest, ignored the entire incident of such publicly showcased arrestin a crowded public place such the hospital where it is reported that at least fifty others have also witnessed the para military forces draggingthe activists , who had been visiting a patient out of the hospital, dragging him across the floor before taking him away in an jeep type vehicle – all, in full view of the public.

18 such political activists were made to disappear during the past five months and extra judicially killed, allegedly by the same Pakistan Rangers and their bodies containing marks of torture have beensubsequently. Para military outfits such as the Pakistan rangers are thus openly used by the government of Pakistan to meet their political ends, in spreading fear and control over any dissent or activism against the incumbent regime and this is done under the cover of a perceived presence of a democratic and civilian government.  It is likely that the activist in this instance too will undergo severe forms of torture, and be most probably killed in the same manner. The common practice in Pakistan is that neither the police nor the rangers provide any information with regard to such abductions, forced disappearances and extra judicial killings and thereby circumvent the due legal process with regard to such arrests.

According to information received,Mr. Amanat Abbas, son of Inayat Abbas, 43 years old, and a resident of Gulbahar, Karachi, was arrested on 24th June 2014from the Zain-ul-Abideen Hospital at around  5.30 in the evening by officials of Pakistan Rangers. Mr. Abbas belongs to the MQM, a political partythat holds 25 seats in the National Assembly and 44 seats in the Sindh Provincial Assembly and he was in charge of theMQM unit 189 and is a prominent and well known politician /activists in the area. According to reports he had received a phone asking him to come immediately to the hospital saying that a close relative is seriously ill and injured following which he had rushed to the hospital. No sooner he had reached the emergency ward of the hospital five jeeps belonging to the Pakistan Rangers had surrounded the hospital with at least 25 persons in Rangers' uniforms. One, officer from the Pakistan Rangers, Inspector Manzoor, had already been inside the hospital premises awaiting his arrival, when he had commanded Mr. Abbas to go along with him. When Mr. Abbas had inquired as to the reason, several other soldiers from the Pakistan Rangers had grabbed him with his neck and shoulder and dragged him along the floor and was thrown into one of the jeeps parked there and which was driven by Inspector Manzoor.

According to witness accounts, people who had gathered at the scene had triedto interneve and inquire from the Rangers as to the treatment given to Abbas, and they were met by some of the Rangers pointing their guns at them. By standers there, had later informed his wife about the sudden arrest. According to some others who had followed the convoy of the jeeps, they had taken him to the headquarters of the Pakistan Rangers at Nazimabad, near Ghalib library, which is nearby the hospital.

His wife and brothers had immediately contacted police to figure out the reasons of arrest. The officials of Rizvia police stationhave refused to give any information of his arrest or any involvement in arrest. The wife of Abbas had written an application to the station house officer (SHO) of Rizvia police station to lodge a First Information Report (FIR) but he too has refused to file a report saying that in the matters of arrest by the Rangers police have no authority to issue any such report since such matters are handled with orders from higher authorities in government.

We have also received information that later during the late hours of 24th June, several close friends and  relatives had visited the local headquarter of Pakistan Rangers at Nazimabadwhere they were told that he is not there. When relatives have informed that they had received information that Mr. Abbas was brought there, the guards of Rangers warned them to leave or face similar consequences.

Mr Abbas's whereabouts are yet unknown, his family and friends fear that he would be tortured in custody and if he does not confess to a crime, if any, he would be extra judicially killed , as were the 18 other such activists this year.

The federal government has commenced an operation in Karachi, the capital of Sindh, under the title: "Targeted Operation" with the support of the police and Pakistan Rangers. The operation, which commenced on September 5, is supposedly conducted against the increase in targeted killings, extortion, kidnappings and incidents of terrorism including bomb blasts. The Pakistan Rangers has been given powers of arrest and detention of the suspects including permission to shoot on sight.

During the last nine months of the operation, according to official reports, 17,000 persons were arrested on several charges. However, contrary to this figure, the two jails operating in Karachi claim that they have received only1,500 suspects. The police and Pakistan Rangers, who at the end of every 30 days issue their report on their arrests, have not even mentioned the whereabouts of the remaining suspects. The correct figures on the encounters and extra judicial killings were not available but through reports published in the media more than 150 persons were killed under mysterious circumstances after their arrests and torture duringinterrogations.
The political party of the Karachi, the MQM, claims that since January this year,  45 activists have   disappeared following arrest by the Rangers and police and among these were found the 18 activists' whose bodies riddled with torture wounds. The government has to-date not conducted any inquiries.

Please write letters to the authorities, mentioned below, calling them to release Amanat Abbas immediately and if he is involved in any wrongdoing he should be produced before a court of law and a due legal process of prosecution should be followed instead of resorting to abductions , torture and extra judicial killings. Please also urge theauthorities  to take action against the Pakistan Rangers who are stationed at Karachi for taking law into their own hands and acting above the law.
The AHRC writes a separate letter to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances calling for its intervention into this matter.

No comments: