International Human Rights Day: Pakistanis question state institutions about their missing human rights

Men, women and children belonging to the most marginalized segments of the society including gypsy community, brick kiln workers, sanitary workers, trans-genders, Persons with Disabilities, and religious minorities has questioned the government and the responsible state institutions and departments about their human rights in a Rally held in front of Lahore Press Club on 9th December 2016 under the auspices of Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan, with the support of the Members of Rwadari Tehreek and other civil society groups and organizations.

The participants of the Rally chanted slogans against the discrimination on various grounds and against the government’s s failure in defending their human rights and demanded immediate measures to ensure fair treatment without any religious or other form of discrimination, equal opportunities in education, jobs and other matters of public life, right to justice, quality education, proper health facilities, safe drinking water and clean and safe environment.

Speaking to the participants of the Rally, Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan and Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Mr. Samson Salamat said that “International Human Rights Day is a reminder for our Government and the State Institution that the implementation of human rights standards and principles is a key for a better society and therefore human rights should be given a priority to make our society a human rights friendly society where all citizens are treated equally without any discrimination”.

Mr. Samson Salamat further added that “it is very unfortunate that the human rights situation is getting worst day by day which is a matter of grave concern, and the fundamental freedoms including the freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, association and freedom of religion and belief are under threat”.

The worst part of the situation is that the space for the civil society is shrinking day by day, which is not a healthy sign for our society because the civil society is an important entity to keep the question of people rights alive. Therefore, we expect that the government shall turn its attention towards this deteriorating situation of human rights and make human rights protection and promotion a priority, especially of those who are frequently deprived of their fundamental rights and freedoms in our country or are working for the protection and promotion of human rights” Mr. Samson Salamat added.

Mr. Rizwan Gill Advocate, President of Rwadari Tehreek- Lahore said that “it is the constitutional responsibility of the government and the state institutions to provide equal rights to all the citizens without any discrimination of cast, colour, creed, social status or any other recognition. Therefore the government and the state institutions are duty-bound to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and end all forms of discriminations from the society and ensure equal treatment, especially with the persons belonging to the religious minorities who are frequently attacked and persecuted.

Mr. Samuel Pyara, Member of Rwadari Tehreek Core Committee said that the attitude and policies of the current government towards the civil society organizations and human rights defenders is quite disturbing, which has direct impact on the civil liberties of citizens and therefore it is urged that the civil society friendly policies may be introduced.

The other prominent human rights defenders including Rev. Emmanuel Khokhar (Senior Pastor Church of Pakistan), Mr. Abdullah Malik (President Rwadari Tehreek), Ms. Sabira Asmat (President Rwadari Tehreek Punjab), Ms. Komal Patras (Member Central Executive Committee Rwadari Tehreek), Iqra Baig Advocate, Pandi Bhaghat Lal Khokhar of Hindi Community, Rukhsana Liaqat and Neeli Rana of Transgenders Community were also present at this occasion.

The participants of the Rally on the International Human Rights Day unanimously demanded that:

  • All forms of discriminations on the basis of religion, sect, social status or in any other form should be ended.
  • All sorts of hate speech should be stopped and those responsible in spreading hatred and violence should be apprehend and dealt according to the law.
  • Similar to the Sindh Province, the Provincial Commissions on Minorities Rights should be established through an Act of Parliament in consultation with relevant stakeholders to assess and address the issues of religious minorities in the country.
  • 2017 should be declared as a Year for “Rwadari” (Religious Tolerance and interfaith harmony) in the country to defeat religious extremism, terrorism from the Pakistani society, keeping in view that the religious extremism, intolerance and terrorism is a threat to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Disadvantaged people including gypsies, trans-genders, sanitary workers, religious minorities, the brick kiln workers, and Persons with Disabilities need special attention and therefore immediate measures should be taken to ensure non-discrimination, free education, healthcare, clean environment, fair wages for these segments of the society
  • All forms of slavery on brick kiln factories, in the agriculture sectors, or in other sectors should be checked thoroughly and necessary steps should be taken for its abolishment.
  • Sanitary workers normally operate in very inhumane working conditions and therefore proper safety measures should be provided and they should be treated with respect.
  • Legislation should be made for the rights of the Person with Disabilities to give them equal opportunities and status in the society.
  • Trans-genders need special attention of the society, especially of the government and state institutions to end discriminatory attitudes towards them.
  • Keeping in view the frequent threats and killings to the working journalists and the human defenders, a comprehensive policy should be developed in consultation with relevant stake-holders for the safety and security of the journalists and human rights defenders.
  • All forms of discrimination and violence against women should be ended through proper legislation and policies in the light of CEDAW Convention, especially the legislation should be made to criminalize domestic violence and to control early child marriages.
  • International Commitments should be fulfilled and the International Human Rights Standards should be implemented in letter and spirit

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