Amina Masood Junjua forward me the following this morning and I am posting it here as an act of support. For those of you unfamiliar with the work of this amazing woman, and the campaign for justice for those Pakistani’s who have become victims of the irrational, unjust and unquestioned tentacles of the ‘war against terror’ and have disappeared into Pakistani and American detention, torture and elimination. Her’s is a campaign inspired by the disappearance of her husband Masood in 2005. She has been instrumental in helping me meet families of those who have been picked up by the Pakistani military, intelligence and police, as part of my larger work on the impact of the ‘war against terror’ on the lives of ordinary Pakistani citizens.
The writer and journalist Malcolm Garcia wrote an extensive piece about her, her campaign and the issue of the missing in Pakistan in a piece called “The Missing” which appeared in the October 2010 issue of Guernica Magazine.
Today, on the auspicious day of Eid being celebrated across the Muslim community, Amina sent out yet another plea. I am reposting it here in support for her campaign, and as another voice demanding justice and due process, the rights promised to all Pakistani citizens, regardless of their crimes or background, by the nation’s much tattered constitution.
Below is an excerpt, and you can read the original statement EidStatement2011:
Year 2011 has turned into a doubly sorrowful symbol for the families of Missing persons of Pakistan as International day of the victims of enforced disappearance and Eid fall on consecutive days. This year has an another significance because from today United Nations has also officially marked it as the International day of the victims of enforced disappearance.
For some of us it is the first Eid without one of our family member, for some it is fifth and for some of us it is tenth. But we are not talking about deceased family members whom one bury with their hands instead these are the missing loved ones subjected to enforced disappearance. Here one must remember that “Enforced Disappearance” is a legal term of international law coined by United Nation’s legal instruments. It denotes a disappeared or missing person who has been kidnapped and detained illegally by state run institutions, placing them outside the protection of law; the very institutions which are created and constituted to prevent citizens from all atrocities including kidnapping. It is like being robbed by your own watchman.
There are abundant and over whelming evidences, affidavits and eye witnesses which have already confirmed the presence of loved ones in the custody of local agencies, many of whom have been handed over to foreign agencies. The irony of the situation is that ex president Gen Perwaiz Musharraf and ex minister of interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao have authenticated, with a criminal pride, in their books and media statements that they have been enforce disappearing Pakistani citizens in exchange for American dollars. Even more distressing is the fact that the crime of enforced disappearance has accelerated in the present democratic government. We assert that if Gillani government denies this fact than it means that they have no control on agencies who are still in pursuit of American money.
The perpetrators of this crime not only kidnap people but harass their families so much that most of them don’t dare to launch a complaint. More than 1200 families have contacted and registered their cases with Defence of Human Rights. Due to different hurdles and lack of enough funds Defence of Human Rights is representing only 322 cases in Supreme Court. Punjab stands at number one with 174 cases whereas KPK , Balochistan, Sindh, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Islamabad Capital Territory follow with 96, 19, 25, 7, 11 cases respectively.
In a Statement by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or involuntary Disappearances to mark the first UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances it asserts, “Unfortunately, enforced disappearances continue to be used by some States as a tool to deal with situations of conflict or internal unrest. We have also witnessed the use of the so-called ‘short term disappearances,’ where victims are placed in secret detention or unknown locations, outside the protection of the law, before being released weeks or months later, sometimes after having been tortured and without having been brought in front of a judge or other civil authority.
This very worrisome practice, whether it is used to counter terrorism, to fight organized crime or suppress legitimate civil strife demanding democracy, freedom of expression or religion, should be considered as an enforced disappearance and as such adequately investigated, prosecuted and punished.”
On this day Defence of Human Rights Pakistan wants to draw your attention to the thousands of Pakistani families which are aggrieved for years whose loved ones, brothers, fathers, husbands, sons, daughters and even children are abducted by local and foreign intelligence agencies.
From official Eid Statement of the Defense of Human Rights, Pakistan
The procedures and tactics used by the Pakistani military, intelligence, political and police establishment against its own citizens are largely in violation of its own laws. These procedures have been utilized against domestic dissidents e.g. those from Baluchistan, and others who dared speak out against our American ally.
Justice in Pakistan is often a conundrum, frequently a miscarriage and almost always a luxury. However, we have in the need to serve the interests of this war of choice, dispensed with even these pretensions. People are simply being abducted and lost into the darkness of a domestic and international detention and torture machinery that may today be one of the largest multi-national businesses in the world.
For some of us the question is not of guilt, of criminality, of an inappropriate fundamentalism, or the crime of seeking truth and ideas of justice on the wrong side of the master narratives being dictated from Washington D.C. They are questions of due process, rights, representation and constitutionality. This may shock some, but I believe that event the worst of Al Qaeda deserves his / her day in court. As the Norwegians are demonstrating with their arrest and prosecution of the mass murderer Breivik, due process of law and protection of the humanity of a citizen is perhaps the best means of curtailing further acts of violence and criminality.
The hysteria that has been used to simply eliminate Pakistani citizens, and the many so-called humane, left leaning, liberal voices who have offered justifications for summary executions (and they say the tribal areas are wild!), rampant war and mass killings, is dismaying and frankly abhorrent. They speak often about a ‘war against pakistan’ or a ‘war on pakistan’, and yet had nothing to say as our and American bombs began to rain down on our citizens in the frontier regions. Apparently for such left liberals the idea of Pakistani citizenship and its associated rights does not extend too far from the cushioned elegance of their drawing rooms in Islamabad or Karachi.
We celebrate Eid with a heavy heart, as we have for many years.
Eid Mubarak to everyone.