LAHORE: In 2011,Mr. Shahbaz Bhatti, the most influential human rights defender stood up for the rights of Christians in Pakistan and in resultant was brutally murdered by an Islamic terror group, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who proudly claimed responsibility at the time for his killing and called him a “blasphemer.” He was killed despite having earlier expressed serious concern for his safety after threats were issues. Now more than five years have been passed but the killers of Mr.Bhatti have not been brought to justice.
Sadly after the killing of Mr.Bhatti, the Pakistani Political and Church leadership has completely failed to ask authority to bring his murderers to justice and also has failed to ask Pakistani authority to repeal the blasphemy laws that continues to encourage mob violence, murder with impunity, and the marginalization of religious minorities.
Sardar Mushtaq Gill, human rights defender, who heads LEAD, said that the security and protection of the human rights defenders was always a concern in Pakistan. They put their physical security at high risk to protect blasphemy victims and their family members. The risks tend to increase especially in cases like mob violence. The state should recognize their efforts and the threats involved in their work. The human rights defender should be given physical protection and there is also a dire need to change the non-state and the state actors’ behavior towards violence against the human rights defenders who risk their lives for the promotion and protection of fundamental rights for all.
The EU and other National and International voices also have been failed to ensure from Pakistani authority for the issue of the security and protection of blasphemy victims and their defenders, who uncover the abuses of blasphemy laws and campaign for redress of the victims and repeal of the blasphemy laws, who have also stood up for the defense of the victims and have been abused, harassed, threatened, attacked and in some instances killed on account of their such legitimate human rights work through peaceful and non-violent means. The impunity with which such abuses are carried out has made the defense of human rights a dangerous undertaking in Pakistan.
We at LEAD are witnesses of the abuses, harassment, life threats and attacks by which the human rights defenders, in Pakistan, have been abused, harassed, threatened, attacked and in some instances killed after getting life threats and in the same way the victims of blasphemy laws and their family members harassed, abused, threatened and attacked in broad daylight. We at LEAD further request to the EU and other voices for the HRDs to speak to authority to make ensure the arrangement of physical and digital security and protection of human rights defenders and the victims on our behalf as they committed themselves for the protection and security of HRDs because they are ordinary people who speak for the rights of others.