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Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Repeal the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Repeal the Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

Monday 8 February 2010, by siawi2

Source: appeals UaU;

Pakistan – Intimidation and death threats against human rights lawyer, Mr Parvez Aslam Choudhry

8 February 2010

Human rights defender Mr Parvez Aslam Choudhry has recently received death threats as a result of his human rights activities. Parvez Aslam Choudhry is the Chairperson of Legal Aid for the Destitute and Settlement (LADS) in Lahore, a non-governmental organisation which provides legal aid to marginalised people who are either falsely implicated by the police or unable to afford legal assistance themselves. Over the years LADS has represented hundreds of people pro bono. In 2003, Parvez Aslam Choudhry was awarded the Bishop John Joseph Award by Pakistan Minorities Front for his outstanding work in defending the rights of minorities at considerable personal risk. More recently, he was nominated for the 2009 Human Rights Award by the European Union Bar Council. Front Line previously issued appeals in relation to Parvez Aslam Choudhry on 13 March 2009 and 15 April 2008.

On 2 February 2010, Parvez Aslam Choudhry received a threatening phone call in which the caller said that his office and home would be blown up. It is believed that this threat is related to his work on the case of Qamar David, a Christian who is currently on trial for charges of blasphemy. The case is now reaching a critical point, with “final arguments†scheduled to be heard on 9 February 2010.

On 1 February 2010, Parvez Aslam Choudhry was the subject of intimidation by a mob of people that attended the latest hearing in the case of Qamar David. The mob declared that they would see Parvez Aslam Choudhry just before the hearing on 9 February 2010 and “perform their religious duty to kill blasphemers and supporters†.

These threats are the most recent in a series of threats against Parvez Aslam Choudhry. On 8 April 2008, Parvez Aslam Choudhry received an anonymous telephone call threatening both him and his family. Parvez Aslam Choudhry was reportedly told he was to be killed because he was a Christian lawyer defending a Christian person accused of blasphemy. Furthermore, on 6 April 2008, Parvez Aslam Choudhry was attacked by a large mob when he arrived to the court for the bail hearing. His car was damaged and the mob threatened to kill him.

Front Line believes that the intimidation and death threats against Parvez Aslam Choudhry are directly related to his work in defence of human rights, in particular the rights of minorities at risk. Front Line fears for the physical and psychological security of Parvez Aslam Choudhry and his wife Neelam Shazia.

Front Line urges the authorities in Pakistan to:

1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death threats and intimidation against Parvez Aslam Choudhry, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Provide police protection for Parvez Aslam Choudhry and his family so as to guarantee their physical and psychological integrity in the final days of the trial of Qamar David;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Pakistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.