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AI: Confronting the crisis in Pakistan

Stop human rights violations in Pakistan

Pakistani policemen arrest human rights activists, November 2007.

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Last month, it was red-robed monks in Burma. Now it’s lawyers in business suits who are bravely standing up to Pakistan’s Gen. Musharraf, who is brutally cracking down on peaceful protests for fundamental freedoms.

Tell President Bush he must speak out forcefully against the human rights violations taking place in Pakistan. If we all speak out now, together, powerfully, we have a chance to move President Bush to do the right thing.

Unpopular and desperate, Musharraf suspended the bulk of Pakistan’s Constitution, shut down the judicial system, raided the Office of Human Rights Commission, arrested human rights activists, and restricted TV and radio stations from broadcasting. He is justifying his actions by blaming terrorists — but he’s only targeting opposition leaders, peaceful demonstrators, lawyers and judges. Days ago, he detained several of the Supreme Court Justices, including the Chief Justice.

Musharraf relies heavily on the United States for aid, as well as arms supplies. The United States has provided billions of dollars worth of arms and military training for Musharraf’s security forces in the last couple of years, ranging from F-16 fighter jets, tens of thousands of parts for the M-113 armored personnel carrier, to rifles, pistols, and revolvers. President Bush must intervene. Tell him to insist that anyone detained for political reasons be immediately and unconditionally released and that no weapons provided to Pakistan will be used to commit human rights violations.

Security in Pakistan will not come until human rights are universally respected. Freedom of expression, freedom of press, and an independent judiciary are cornerstones of any democracy.

The United States has a special obligation to stand up to Musharraf’s actions, given the nations’ alliance in the war on terror. President Bush has spoken out, but he must speak more forcefully and suspend any weapons transfers to Pakistan in order to assure that none are used to commit or facilitate human rights violations; especially considering the close to $1.5 billion U.S. proposed military package to Pakistan for FY08.

The crackdown and ensuing chaos will not make anyone safer. The brave human rights defenders on the front lines of crises such as those in Burma and Pakistan need our help. Let us speak out, together, swiftly, against the crisis and human rights violations taking place today in Pakistan.


Larry Cox
Executive Director

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