Sri Lanka activists protest against abduction of Pakistani peace campaigner

By Athula Vithanage

Activists in Sri Lanka gathered in the capital to protest the disappearance of Pakistani peace activist Raza Khan six months ago.

Forty years old Raza Mahmood Khan, convener of the Aghaz-e-Dosti (Initiation of Friendship) organisation was abducted in Lahore last December after participating in an open forum on extremism in the city.

He was known for his grassroots activism around building India-Pakistan friendship.

'Ratify UN Convention'

Sri Lankan activist protesting his disappearance handed over a petition to the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo demanding answers to his fate and calling for justice and accountability for the disappeared in Pakistan.

They urged the government of Pakistan to commit to international standards in ending enforced disappearances, a fundamental violation of human rights and a brutal form of repression.

“South Asian Solidarity in Sri Lanka calls on the government of Pakistan to provide answers to the families of the disappeared in Pakistan, sign and ratify the United Nations International Convention Against Enforced Disappearances and commit to putting an end to enforced disappearances in Pakistan,” said the petition.

The petition, which highlights how Tamils in Sri Lanka’s North and East continue to face insecurity, intimidation, and the fear of abduction, emphasise how Pakistan, ethnic and religious minorities such as Pashtuns, Balochis, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Shias have become victims.

“In Pakistan, enforced disappearances began under the dictatorship of General Pervez Mushraff in the late 1990s and have intensified since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.”

The Pakistan Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances counts 1,640 unresolved cases out of 4,804 reported. Whilst the Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances told the court that it had disposed of 3,000 cases while 1,577 were still pending with it. Official figures by the Pakistan Human Rights Commission however, count 3,000 unresolved cases.☐



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