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Press Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

Pakistan: Fundamentalist groups target religious minorities, once again.

Monday 20 February 2012, by siawi3

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

- Source: AHRC-STM-025-2012
- February 3, 2012

A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: The Ahmadiyya community has once again been targeted by banned terrorist organisations

The Ahamadiyya community, a minority religious community, is again facing systematic genocide from the militant religious groups in coming days particularly from the banned terrorist organizations that have made a joint strategy to force them to leave Pakistan. This campaign has been started from the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Punjab province, in the presence of heavy contingent of police, rangers and, of course, plain clothed men from notorious intelligence agency, the ISI.

On January 29, a big gathering of more than 5000 persons, mainly from Madressas (Islamic seminaries) was held outside the place where members of Ahmadiyya community have their Mosque and other places like a hospital and library. The place of the protest gathering was not far away from the General Head Quarters of Pakistan and was addressed by none other than the leaders of the banned religious organizations who were declared as terrorist organizations by law. The leaders from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Sipahe Sahaba addressed the rally. These organizations had also been declared terrorist organizations by the international community. One main stream religious-cum-political party, the Jamaat-e-Islami was the main organizer of the rally which has close links with the ISI and Pakistan military.

The protest rally was organised by an Action Committee, a forum comprising of representatives from banned terrorist organizations, local traders, Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat, the local organization working against the Ahmadiyya community, local Ulemas and so-called social activists, was constituted a few months ago to achieve a one-point agenda that is the closure of “Ewane Tauheed”, the sole place of worship of the Ahmadiyya community located in Satellite Town, a residential area in Rawalpindi.

The rally was held to protest alleged land ’encroachment’, the speakers used the occasion to demand that Ahmadis must stop religious activities such as proselytizing and worshipping. It was announced that an intersection close to the worship place will be named the Khatm-e-Nubuwat Chowk. Participants carried flags of different religious parties, including some banned ones, and portraits of the self-confessed assassin Mumtaz Qadri who killed former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer. They also chanted slogans against Ahmadis and their ‘uncalled for’ activities in Rawalpindi.

The protestants were holding banners and posters containing the words of hatred and threats for the Ahmadis community and demanding that they stop their religious practices. One banner was conveying the message that the Qadianis must be forced to stop their ‘unconstitutional’ activities. The speakers announced that they will they will not let Ahmadis pray from the next Friday. Closing down Ewan-e-Tauheed will be a huge victory for them and will be another step closer to forcing them out of Pakistan. They also directed their workers that the activities of the Ahmadiyya community should be restricted through whatever means available. They said that the Ahmadiyya community is like a snake which must be killed otherwise the snake will kill others. They have also announced that members of the Ahmadiyya community would not be allowed to observe their Friday prayers otherwise they would face dire consequences.

The hate mongering miscreants extensively displayed anti-Ahmadiyya posters, signs and banners all over the town area. The local police and government authorities took no action whatsoever to stop this explosive charade and actually provided protection to the militants when they inundated the streets of Satellite town shouting abuse and life threatening slogans against Ahmadiyyas. The authorities even shamelessly advised the Ahmadis to stop praying as commanded by Allah in congregation in the Ahmadiyya centre hall. This infuriating demand by the Pakistan Government authorities is indeed shocking and deplorable.

The spokesperson of the Ahmadiyya community says that in the Satellite Town Rawalpindi ’’Ewan e Tawheed’’ has been is in place for the last 17 years. It is the property of Jama’at Ahmadiyya and is used as a place for prayers ever since. Some adventurists have decided to make it an issue and have started a false, baseless campaign of hatred to create problems. There are no concrete issues as such and the miscreants keep coming up with new allegations one after the other. The bottom line is that miscreants want to deprive the Ahmadis of their right to pray and congregate.

The Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan has been facing a systematic genocide for many decades. The community has lost hundreds of community members — 86 members in a single day on 28 May 2010 in Lahore city, Punjab province when their mosques were attacked by the same terrorist organizations who were the organizers of the protest rally. The community has been abandoned by the state and the very government that is sworn to protect it. After the incident on 28 May the community decided to take up security measures upon the advice of law enforcement agencies, which is now becoming an issue. The community’s right to pray and congregate is in grave danger today.

The campaign against the Ahmadis is very much in contravention of the Constitution which provides for the right to establish places of worship and train clergy, but in practice these rights were restricted for Ahmadis. The authorities continued to conduct surveillance on Ahmadis, and several Ahmadiyya mosques were reportedly closed or confiscated; others reportedly were desecrated or their construction stopped. They were also banned from preaching and from traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj or other religious pilgrimages. The government also banned Ahmadiyya publications from public sale, but the organization continues to publish religious literature which is circulated only within Ahmadi communities.
The Ahmadiyy Muslims in Rawalpindi are also in a seriously deteriorating situation of safety and security. The anti-Ahmadiyya forces in Pakistan plan to extend the campaign to obliterate the freedom of worship of Ahmadi Muslims throughout Pakistan.

The government has rarely investigated or prosecuted perpetrators of the ever increasing extremist attacks on minorities and indeed, anyone promoting religious tolerance which has deepened the climate of impunity. Despite the government’s steps to ban 25 militant religious groups across the country they continue to operate with the connivance of the local administration.

The government should immediately stop the violent campaign against the Ahmadiyya community. The killings of Ahmadis and the attacks on their places of worships are being done with the tacit approval of the government. The world community is once again urged to raise its voice against such barbaric and flagrant violations of the fundamental human rights in a country which claims to be counted amongst the democratic and civilized nations of the world.

AHRC

The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.