Monday, July 9, 2012

HRCP slams killing of FATA civil society activist

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the assassination of Farida Afridi, who worked for an organisation working for women’s welfare, in Jamrud, Khyber Agency, as well as reports of a man accused of desecrating religious texts being snatched from police custody and burned to death.

In a statement on Thursday, HRCP said: “It is a matter of grave concern that the risks facing human rights defenders and those working to ameliorate the lot of marginalized segments remain very high across the country. HRCP is utterly shocked at the targeted killing of Farida Afridi, whose only crime was working for the uplift of women in an area where they need such help the most.

Two armed men riding a bike shot her in the head and fled. The threats to human rights defenders in FATA are as worrisome as the impunity the killers enjoy. The ghastly murder is reminiscent of the killing on December 8, 2011, of Zarteef Afridi, a well known human rights defender and HRCP coordinator in Khyber Agency. He was too shot dead by two men on a motorcycle. His killers are still at large.

HRCP would like to remind the government of its obligation to provide a safe working environment to human rights defenders all over the country, particularly more so in the FATA region, which faces about the worst turmoil in the country. In such places, journalists, human rights defenders and workers of civil society organisations who strive to provide essential needs or awareness to the people at great personal risk, have faced perils only because of their role in promoting rights or highlighting violations.

The killing of journalists, rights defenders and civil society activists in FATA is the latest addition to the prevailing hurdles for those working in the region for the uplift of the marginalized people, especially women.” 

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