Plight Of Religious Minorities Highlighted On International Human Rights Day

Plight Of Religious Minorities Highlighted On International Human Rights Day
The aim of the protest was to draw the attention of the government and other stake-holders towards the plight of religious minorities and to urge immediate actions to stop misuse of blasphemy laws, mob violence in the name of religion, legislation to criminalize religious conversions and elimination of the undemocratic “Selection System” to ensure effective representation in different tiers of the democratic set-up.

The participants of the Protest Rally expressed outrage and concerns over the news of the re-emergence of banned TTP in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, trends of religious extremism and violence, in particular on the consistent incidents of misuse of blasphemy laws, forceful conversions of girls belonging to religious minorities and rejection of the pro-minorities legislation. Furthermore, the protestors also raised questions on the negligence of the state machinery especially the parliament, human rights and minorities affairs ministries, National Commission on Minorities and the judicial system for their failure to protect the human rights of minorities which fails to provide timely justice in most of the incidents.

The Protest Rally was led by Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Pakistan along with renowned scholar, writer  founding member of Rwadari Tehreek  Jami Chandio,  Senior human rights defender Saeeda Diep, Vice Chairman Deedar Ahmed Mirani, Central President Rashid Bashir Chatha, President Punjab Muhammed Israel Advocate, Secretariat Incharge Asmarah Daud, Good-will Ambassador on Women Rights Sabina Malik, President Lahore Vickram Manzoor, Convener Professor Saleem Asim, General Secretary Punjab Shahid Rafique, Information Secretary Punjab Sohail Samuel,  Hafiz Mian Liaqat, Imran Ghauri, and other political, social and religious leaders.

Chairman Rwadari Tehreek Mr. Samson Salamat, while addressing the peaceful protestors on the eve of International Human Rights Day said that “the overall situation of human rights has badly deteriorated in general but especially the marginalized segments of the society are suffering the most.  Every human rights issue is equally important but the rise of violent extremism, squeezing space for religious freedom and negligence on the protection of the rights of religious minorities has created an atmosphere of fear and terror among the citizens belonging to religious minorities.

“Religious minorities have been crying again and again for their un-equal and inferior status as citizens, religious discrimination constitutionally, institutionally and in public life and their persecution in the pretext of blasphemy, and forced conversion of their minor girls but they are consistently being ignored and unheard” Mr. Samson Salamat added.

Renowned scholar, writer and founding member of Rwadari Tehreek, Mr. Jami Chandio said that "today on the eve of International Human Rights Day, We call upon the seriousness of the governments and all stake-holders to address the public issues. Do not disappoint your own people, rather listen them and resolve their issues and problems. In particular, we demand short term medium term and long term de-radicalization policy and sensible steps to ensure the protection of the rights of religious minorities and other marginalized sections of the society". Mr. Jami Chandio further said that only secular and genuinely democratic republics and progressive societies can respect and protect human rights.,

Participants of the Protest Rally unanimously demanded that

- In order to ensure that the society is free of intolerance, violent extremism and terrorism, the government needs to be more serious and practical to ensure the effective implementation of the “National Action Plan”. Especially the ban on hate speech should be implemented in letter and spirit and all those found in spreading hate speech through print or electronic media or through loud speakers should be apprehended indiscriminately and there should be speedy trial of all those who are apprehended on the charges of terrorism."

-  Stern action against banned extremist outfits to stop their activities including rallies, funds collection, and all acts of hate speech and instigation of violence.

-  The Government must take practical steps to stop religious or sectarian hate speech and abusive language.

-  The Blasphemy Laws which are being misused to instigate violence should be reviewed which has led the destruction of the lives and properties, especially of religious minorities.

-  Listen the screams and cries of the minority communities and stop forcible abductions, rapes and marriages of Christians, Hindu and Sikh girls through proper legislation before it gets too late with more damages to the weak religious minorities.

- End “Selection System” for the representation of minorities and the government, political parties and other stake-holders should work on a scheme which empowers and involves the minority voters to elect their representatives in the national, provincial assemblies and even at the local bodies tiers.

- An effective deradicalisation plan should be made which should include the ban on hate speech, elimination of biased material from the curriculum, ban and action against all terrorist outfits, their financiers, facilitators and supporters and de-weaponization policy.