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Amnesty International asks Pakistan to ensure attacks on Ahmadiyya community members should be ended
Photo Courtesy: Unsplash

Amnesty International asks Pakistan to ensure attacks on Ahmadiyya community members should be ended

| @indiablooms | 23 Jun 2024, 06:49 pm

Amnesty International asks Pakistan authorities to ensure Ahmadiyya members should not be attacked

Amnesty International has asked Pakistani authorities to ensure there must not be growing attack on Ahmadiyya community members in the country.

The organization asked authorities to  uphold their right to freedom of belief and religion in the lead up to, during and after the Muslim religious holidays such as Eid ul-Azha.

The human rights organization documented 36 cases of arbitrary arrests and detention in addition to dozens of cases of police harassment of Ahmadis, as well as orders barring religious rites by members of the minority group, from 10 to 19 June.

Several attacks on Ahmadi places of worship also took place, with the authorities failing to ensure the safety and security of members of the community, read the website of the organisation.

“These incidents of human rights violations by district administrations across Pakistan have demonstrated a pattern that Ahmadis remain one of the most systematically discriminated communities in Pakistan. Authorities must end the growing attacks on Ahmadis. They must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of the members of the community,” said Livia Saccardi, Deputy Regional Director for South Asia at Amnesty International.

At least 36 cases of arbitrary arrests and detention of Ahmadis to prevent them performing the religious rites of sacrificing animals were reported in the province of Punjab.

Speaking to Amnesty International, a 60-year-old man from the Ahmadiyya community in Punjab province said that the police entered his house without lawful authority by scaling the walls as his family were sacrificing a goat on the first day of Eid. “The Ahmadiyya community faces threats every year, but this year has been unprecedented. They took eight of my family members into custody, including my sons, nephews and brother-in-law simply because we were practicing our faith within the four walls of our home. A sense of fear pervades (the lives) of all Ahmadis in my locality, many have been arrested,” he said.

Amnesty International has reviewed 11 First Information Reports (FIRs) which were filed against at least 14 members of the Ahmadiyya community on 17 and 18 June in the Punjab cities of Toba Tek Singh, Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Sargodha, Khushab and Gojra. These FIRs contain charges under the draconian blasphemy laws of the Pakistan Penal Code which Amnesty International has been advocating to be repealed. Several of these FIRs are based on complaints filed by affiliates of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), a party known for fueling hate speech and violence against religious minorities in Pakistan.

On 10 June, the Deputy Commissioner in Chakwal issued orders enabling the preventive detention of three Ahmadi men for 30 days on the basis that they might perform the ritual of sacrificing an animal on Eid. The men were released two days later after agreeing to sign an affidavit, as shared with Amnesty International by their lawyers, that they would refrain from performing the ritual. Similar orders were issued by the Sialkot district administration to detain and prevent 16 Ahmadi men from observing religious rites during Eid under the guise of maintenance of public order.

Attacks on Ahmadiyya religious sites

In the early hours of Eid day, 17 June, a violent mob of around 150 people attacked the Ahmadiyya place of workshop in Kotli, Pakistan-administered Jammu and Kashmir. The assailants opened fire and subsequently destroyed the minarets and arch of the building.

On 12 June, 17 graves of the Ahmadiyya community were desecrated in Basti Shukrani, Bahawalpur district, Punjab. Members of the community alleged that the local TLP chapter was responsible for the desecration. These violent attacks came in the aftermath of the religiously motivated killing of two Ahmadi men in Saad Ullah Pur, Mandi Bahauddin on 8 June by a teenage student from a local madrassah.

“Religious groups have been issuing open threats for weeks leading up to Eid and despite a notification from the Ministry of Interior to provincial Inspector Generals and Chief Secretaries instructing an increase in security for Ahmadiyya places of worship, we have seen that the police and provincial governments have acted in extrajudicial ways across the country. It is clear that there is a lack of ownership of Ahmadis as citizens of Pakistan,” said Mahmood Iftikhar, a Pakistani lawyer and human rights activist.

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