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RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART 3

An independant Parliamentary Human Rights Group report exposing the lack of protection from persecution in Rabwah itself.

43The Review of Religions – May 2007 Protection in Rabwah This section considers the protection available for Ahmadis in Rabwah. Three types of pro- tection are identified: community protection, meaning the security offered to Ahmadis as a result of living in an Ahmadi-majority town; state protection, including the effectiveness of the police and judiciary protecting the interests of Ahmadis in Rabwah; and the social and economic conditions that define everyday life for residents of Rabwah. As with section 3, an understanding of the national context is important when considering the potential risks to and protection for Ahmadis in Rabwah. The following material should therefore be read taking account of the perspective offered in the section 2, ‘The Position of Ahmadis in Pakistan’. Community protection The mission asked all the sources their views on the protection available to Ahmadis in Rabwah that flowed from the town’s status as the headquarters of the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. Faiz ur Rehman, President, Rabwah: A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? Part three By Dr Jonathan Ensor – UK Report of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group mission to Pakistan into internal flight for Ahmadis. Foreword by Lord Avebury. Mission members: Frances Allen, Michael Ellman, Jonathan Ensor. An independant report (reproduced with prior permission) that destroys the myth that being a majority in their headquarter, Ahmadis may be able to obtain police protection. A chilling reminder of the ostracisation of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan, their continuing persecution and the absence of any protection by the authorities in Pakistan. 44 The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE Amnesty International Pakistan noted that it is only in Rabwah where the Ahmadis are in the majority and as a result an Ahmadi may be a little safer in Rabwah compared to a town or village where they are in a small minority. Those from outside Rabwah mays therefore, flee there if they are in fear in their home area. However, Mr Rehman pointed out that Khatme Nabuwwat have an office in Rabwah. Thus, whilst those who flee to Rabwah might gain safety for a period of time, fear of Khatme Nabuwwat is ever present. As noted previously, the Islamabad Chapter of Khatme Nabuwwat stated that they want it to be known that Rabwah is a part of Pakistan and that there is no exclusive city in Pakistan for Ahmadis. Broadly agreeing with Mr Rehman, the HRCP explained that whilst Rabwah is safer than most other places in Pakistan for Ahmadis, there are instances of violence here as well. When asked about whether Rabwah can offer a refuge for those targeted elsewhere in Pakistan, the HRCP explained that if an Ahmadi was pursued across Pakistan, they would be caught by their persecutor in Rabwah. Clarifying this point, the HRCP [Human Rights Commission of Pakistan] stated that safety in Rabwah depends on the nature of the persecution and/or on the influence of the persecutor. For example, if a neighbour wishes to take over an Ahmadi’s business by capital-ising on anti- Ahmadi sentiment, then the job of the persecutor is complete once the Ahmadi has left the local community. However, should the persecutor be a person of influence or means, they may use this to follow their target to Rabwah as well. Alternatively, in a case such as an inheritance conflict between two brothers, where one is Ahmadi and the other wishes to take the whole of the inheritance, then the Ahmadi will be pursued wherever he goes to prevent him from claiming his share. Similarly, if an Ahmadi is accused of causing harm then the 45The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE high level of enmity involved will mean that it will be very difficult for the Ahmadi to find protection anywhere, including in Rabwah. In short, if the persecutor is sufficiently willing and/ or able then the object of their persecution will remain unsafe in Rabwah. The HRCP explained that the best way for an Ahmadi to protect her or himself is to hide his/her religion: living in Rabwah has the opposite effect as it is the focus of Khatme Nabuwwat and living in the town marks a person out as an Ahmadi. When asked whether the Ahmadi community provides any security for its own members, the Ahmadi Community Representatives explained they maintain a system similar to neighbourhood watch that is particularly vigilant during the night. Younger members of the community also provide protection to the elders. These security personnel are unarmed, but some sensitive sites may be protected by armed members of the community if it is judged necessary. The community stated that day to day security was a heavy burden on the community whose resources are essentially charitable. However, it is seen as essential given the lack of security for Ahmadi persons or property in Rabwah provided by the authorities. State protection The mission were informed by the Ahmadi Community Representatives that they cannot look to the police or the Courts for protection in Rabwah. The community could not give an example of the police having provided protection to an Ahmadi in Rabwah and, moreover, highlighted the numerous incidences in which the police or government have been the instigators of FIRs against Ahmadis (outlined in detail in section 3.1). The mission were informed that the state provides no protection to senior Ahmadi figures or mosques at Rabwah, except for a symbolic presence at the central mosque at Friday prayers. The 46 The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE Representatives described how during the Khatme Nabuwwat conference in Rabwah the police line the streets and look on as Khatme Nabuwwat members march through the town, chanting ‘filthy, dirty slogans’ and vandalising Ahmadi property. In explaining the problems with relying on the state for protection in Rabwah, the mission’s attention was directed to a recent incident in which Hafiz Tahir Mahmud Ashrafi, Advisor to the Chief Minister of the Punjab for the Promotion of Religious Harmony, appeared as special guest at a Khatme Nabuwwat conference held at Sargodha on 5 September 2006 (Rabwah is within Punjab state and therefore within Mr Ashrafi’s purview). The Ahmadi Community Representatives concluded that if someone fled to Rabwah fearing attack in their home area there would be no police protection available to them. Indeed, the police are seen by the community as actively protecting the Mullahs and their followers. Similar views were expressed by other sources that the mission consulted. Faiz ur Rehman, President, Amnesty International Pakistan stated that nowhere, including Rabwah, is safe for Ahmadis as the police would refuse to give protection to an Ahmadi. When asked if the police might react differently in Rabwah to elsewhere in Pakistan, Mr Rehman explained that whilst it is not impossible, it has not happened. He explained that, as the example of violence in Jhando Sahi demonstrates (see Appendix B8), even relatively senior and educated local police officers find that their hands are tied by their superiors when dealing with Ahmadi cases. The testimony of ‘ZB’, recorded in Appendix A, illustrates the reluctance of the police to become involved in Ahmadi cases. ‘ZB’ told the mission that her husband was attacked by a mob in Sialkot following an edict against him proclaimed by Mullah Manzoor, the local head of Khatme Nabuwwat. The Sialkot police refused to enter an 47The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE FIR against his attackers, advising instead that ‘if you want to save your life, get away from here.’ ‘ZB’ also describes the failure of the police to provide protection in Rabwah, as he subsequently fled to Rabwah where he was shot at following the distribution of his photograph at a Khatme Nabuwwat conference in Rabwah. Abdul Shakoor (recorded in Appendix A) describes how the police do not prevent local mullahs from congregating and shouting abuse outside his shop in Rabwah on a regular basis. Mr Shakoor told the mission that the mullahs congregate about four times each year, most recently three months prior to the mission’s visit. The HRCP agreed generally that speaking to the police does not help Ahmadis. The HRCP pointed out that whilst the Punjab government has never stated that it will protect Ahmadis in Rabwah, it has spoken out to defend police actions against Ahmadi people or property in Rabwah. The mission received several explanations for the apparent limitations on state protection for Ahmadis. The Senior Government Advisor explained that the social pressure around the Ahmadi issue, detailed in section 2.1, has a real effect on all levels of the police and judiciary. When blasphemy cases are being heard people protest outside the court and this has a tangible impact on decisions: this can be seen in cases that have been quashed in the higher courts due to unsustainable findings of fact rather than on a legal basis (see also the testimony of Abdul Shakoor, recorded Appendix A, for an example of the higher court quashing blasphemy cases). The Senior Government Advisor emphasised that, gener- ally speaking, the police are not well educated: they believe the preaching of the mullahs and act accordingly to protect their religion. The HRCP concurred with the Senior Government Advisor, describing how the judiciary takes its cue from the political orientation of the district 48 The Review of Religions – May 2007 and noting that the numerical strength of the police is small. The HRCP described the District Courts as ‘completely subser- vient to the police’, who in turn are in no position to resist a mob raised by a local mullah. Thus District Courts will give sen- tences such as amputation, and rely on the higher courts to quash the case. The higher courts do not tend to make comments on the conduct of the lower courts in blasphemy cases. In explaining the intimidation and pressure on the police and judiciary, the HRCP referred to the impact of ‘professional persecutors’ among the anti-Ahmadi mullahs. The mullahs demonstrate outside all the courts, up to and including the High Court. However, only judges in the High Court receive any protection and this is minimal compared with that provided for politicians, ren- dering the whole judiciary particularly susceptible to threats from extremists. Mr Rehman explained that there is no real system in place to protect judges who try to challenge the extremists: nothing equivalent to that provided for government ministers is available for members of the police or judiciary who suffer intimidation or threats. Through his work, Mr Rehman was aware of specific cases where judges had been threatened in this way and were forced into hiding. The HRCP also noted that they have documented instances where the government has replaced judges whose decisions challenge the government’s viewpoint and gave an example from 2005 in which the government removed the armed guard from an Anti- Terrorist Judge – an act that ‘effectively blackmails Judges’ into following the government line. In the same vein, the British High Commission (BHC) noted that they had been approached by a lawyer seeking protection following his involvement in blasphemy cases against Christians. The HRCP also pointed out that justice in Pakistan is ‘class conscious’. High profile people RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 49The Review of Religions – May 2007 with social standing may be able to have their case transferred to the High Court – the HRCP know of five or six cases where such applications have been successful for high profile individuals. However, the High Court would routinely reject an application from an ordinary individual, even if they had the financial means to make this course available to them. Overall, the HRCP’s conclusion regarding state protection holds as true in Rabwah as outside it: the social and political sensitivity of the term ‘Ahmadi’, taken together with the weakness of state protection in the face of the Mullahs, mean that as far as the Ahmadis are concerned, the judiciary do not exist as an option for protection. No one dares to prosecute the Mullahs for incitement: there would be too strong a backlash. The best defence for an Ahmadi is to hide his belief – but this is harder within Rabwah where it is presumed that residents are Ahmadi. Mr Rehman concluded that the problems for Ahmadis presented by discriminatory legislation are compounded by the practical behaviour of the authorities: the police are reluctant to register FIRs or take measures against those accused of attacking Ahmadis; they will refuse to give protection to Ahmadis who fear attack; and judges will not take positive measures to conclude or dismiss blasphemy cases for fear of reprisals by extremists. The mission sought further details of state protection from DSP Tatla, in Rabwah, and his senior officer DPO Salimi in Jhang. DSP Tatla explained that he had only been in post for four months and that he had little knowledge of events in Rabwah before his arrival. DSP Tatla stated that there are four Police Stations in the district of Rabwah. Two relate to the town, one with an Inspector, 3 Sub-Inspectors, 3 Assistant Sub- Inspectors, one Duty Officer, 5 Head Constables and 20 Constables; and one inside the city with one Sub-Inspector and one Head Constable with 8 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 50 The Review of Religions – May 2007 constables. Rabwah had previously formed part of an 8- station area. DSP Tatla could not say if there were any Ahmadis in his force, but the Ahmadi Community Representatives and the HRCP both stated that the police in Rabwah are all non- Ahmadi. DSP Tatla explained that it is the police’s job is to ensure law and order in the area and to protect the people and property. The main problems are domestic and neighbourhood disputes, and some theft. He confirmed that no special protection is provided for senior members of Ahmadi Community, but also assured the mission that there had been no serious problems between Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis during his tenure in Rabwah. DSP Tatla explained that if an FIR is entered against someone in Rabwah, the police arrest the person with co-operation between the two police stations covering Rabwah town. Where an FIR is issued by someone outside Rabwah in respect of person residing in Rabwah then they arrest the person with the cooperation with the Police station where the FIR was issued. In DSP Tatla’s experience, most of the FIRs issued in Rabwah are requested by the general public in Rabwah; he knew of none instigated by people from outside Rabwah. He could give two examples from his service in Rabwah, both from September 2006. One was in relation to ‘objectionable material’ in the newspaper ‘Alfazal’ (noted above) and the other was against a Khatme Nabuwwat clergyman for shouting slogans against Shias and Ahmadis. The mission were informed by the Ahmadi Community Representatives that there have been incidents where the police, having attended the home of a person named in an FIR and not finding him there, had taken family members to the police station and detained them. These arrests were not recorded at the police station and the family members were not charged. When asked, DSP Tatla insisted that the police do not interrogate family members of RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 51The Review of Religions – May 2007 accused people, unless they are personally concerned in the charge. DSP Tatla stated that in his time in Rabwah Khatme Nabuwwat had organised conferences in Rabwah. Khatme Nabuwwat had held a conference in September: 100 policemen were there to provide security for 5-6,000 people. There was no march then or during his tenure. Permission is required for such conferences from the District Police Officer and the local Mayor. DPO Salimi was aware of applications by both Ahmadis and non-Ahmadis for permission to hold conferences and events: some- times they refused permission, but he was not aware of individual cases. They do sometimes grant permission, but he did not know whether they had ever granted permission to the Ahmadis. The police would be asked as they provide security and this would be seen as having serious law and order implications. If an application came to his office, he would discuss it with his District Co- ordinating Officer, with whom the decision would lie. DPO Salimi stated that generally there were no problems in Rabwah. However, he told the mission that he is aware of the particular issues and problems in Rabwah and for Ahmadis. The DPO was clear in acknowledging that the law was not in favour of the Ahmadis. He knew there was generally one main conference each year held by the mullahs but assured the mission that if there was shouting and slogans, the police would register an FIR. Similarly, anyone can complain and the police would issue an FIR, including against the mullahs. He did not know how many Ahmadis there were in his police force: he knew of one or two, and he named a Deputy Inspector and an Assistant Superintendent of Police, whom he had known in other regions. DPO Salimi stated that there was no bar against Ahmadis joining the police force. RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 52 The Review of Religions – May 2007 Appendix A: Testimony from Ahmadi community members The mission met with a number of Ahmadi community members who had volunteered to recount their experiences. The number of people interviewed was restricted by the time available (2.30- 5.00pm, 10 October 2006). Some requested that their names be withheld from publication due to ongoing problems in Pakistan. All provided proof of their identity and many produced copies of legal documents such as FIRs. ZB, wife of MH, from Sialkot, and their son NA (23 years old) ZB’s husband travelled to the UK on 8 August 2004 and claimed asylum. She told the mission that he was in fear of his life following an edict against him by Mullah Manzoor, the local head of Khatme Nabuwwat for Sialkot area, following his conversion to the Ahmadi faith in 1997. He had owned his own shop in Sialkot, but after the edict was issued a mob had come and beaten him up, leaving him for dead. Later they ransacked the shop; the local union of shopkeepers was involved with the mob. He had reported the matter to the Police, but they had refused to enter a FIR and said ‘if you want to save your life, get away from here.’ He had been in hospital for 2-3 days after which the Ahmadi community had arranged for him to travel to Rabwah. In 1997 MH’s father had persuaded ZB and the children to stay in Sialkot, hoping they would give up the Ahmadi faith. However, the children were targeted at school, and the neighbours tipped rubbish in front of their house. In 1998 they followed MH to Rabwah, and lived in the guest house there until 2004. The rest of MH’s (non-Ahmadi) family had taken over the shop. His father lived in their house in Sialkot. However ZB’s brother found out where the family were, and she started receiving letters RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 53The Review of Religions – May 2007 in 2001, threatening to kill her. Her uncle’s cousin wrote to her demanding that she transfer her property to him – if not, he wrote that he knew where she was and would abduct her children: it was up to her. Her elder son had been working in Lahore, but people (including his own cousins) had threatened him, so he too came to Rabwah in July 2003. After MH’s aging father had signed over his property to his family, the family disowned him. He joined MH in Rabwah in 2003, and died there the following year. MH (whose photograph had been circulated by Khatme Nabuwwat at their conference in Rabwah) was shot at during his father’s funeral in Rabwah. It was at this point that he decided that he had to leave Pakistan. Since then ZB had suffered many problems; she had no house and no income. She did not know whether an FIR had been issued against her husband. His application for asylum in the UK was still pending. ZM (born 6 June 1972) ZM was born in Rabwah and, following problems with gaining employment due to his Ahmadi faith, had travelled to the UK in March 2004 and claimed asylum at the airport. His application for asylum was refused, and subsequently he was escorted by two people to the plane for Pakistan. He had applied for a travel document from the Pakistan High Commission in London because he had used a false passport to come to UK, but eventually he returned on the false passport. On arrival in Pakistan, he had been handed to the Federal Investigation Agency, who had detained him, forcing him to remain seated on a chair for 5 days. Finally they charged him for using a false passport and released him. He now has to report to court every month. Mr. Rashid Ahmed (68 years old) Mr. Ahmed had printed a pamphlet written by the late Khurshid Ahmad, the President of the Ahmadi Community in RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 54 The Review of Religions – May 2007 Rabwah, and an Ahmadi official, Qazi Muneer, advising Ahmadis on how to use their prayers for their improvement. Mr Ahmed had been charged with blasphemy under section 298c of the Penal Code, under an FIR registered on 22 May 1989 on the order of the Home Secretary of the Provincial Government, Punjab. The Ahmadi Community had arranged for bail before he was arrested, and he took the bail certificate and deposited it with the police. [The mission were shown a document together with a translation, headed ‘Punjab Home Department Lahore, May, 1989.’ Under the subject heading ‘Rabwah Affairs’ the document refers to a pamphlet entitled ‘Tarbiyyati Umoor’, published by ‘Committee Islah-o-Irshad Local Anjuman-e-Ahmadiyya, Rabwah’. The document concludes ‘The contents of the enclosed Pomphlet (sic) contain objectionable material actionable u/s 298 C … SHO, PS, Rabwah to register the case’.] Mr. Ahmed later (on 5 August) went with the legal advisor to the community, Tahir Mubarik, to the UK for a conference, and stayed abroad for about two months. After he returned in October 1989, he met by chance with the local magistrate who told him that a supplementary amendment had been made to his FIR under article 298c and a case had been registered against him. He then went to court with his legal adviser and, on 2 January 1990 he received bail again. Since that time he has had to attend court in Chiniot every 15 days, sometimes waiting all day for the case to be called. Each time the police fail to produce witnesses and the case is adjourned, without any criticism of the police. He has applied for the case to be dismissed, but he believes the magistrate is too frightened of the mullahs to order this: he has been told the police will arrange for all the witnesses to come together on one occasion. He has not yet gone to a higher court, as there are some 60 cases RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 55The Review of Religions – May 2007 like his, and his lawyer wants to take them all to the higher court together. Mr. MN (born 15 April 1928) An FIR was issued against MN under article 298c on 10 June 1988 because he had published a Ramadan calendar to distribute to patients of his herbal medicine clinic near Rabwah and had mentioned the name of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (with the words ‘Peace be upon him’). An FIR was registered against him by Mullah Khuda Bakhsh from Khatme Nabuwwat at Rabwah Police Station. He was arrested at his clinic the same day, held overnight at the Police Station and transferred to a police post for one day and then taken to Chiniot prison for 5 days until bail was arranged. Since then the case had been called and adjourned every 15 or 30 days at Chiniot: twice his bail had been cancelled and he had had to re- arrange it. There was no reason for the adjournments, but he had to attend court every time. His lawyer has asked for his case to be dismissed on many occasions. Mr. Abdul Shakoor (born 19 May 1935) In 1974 Mr. Shakoor had an optician’s shop in Sargoda, Punjab, which, together with his house, was ransacked and looted at the time of agitation against the Ahmadi Community. However, in 1985 he was charged with blasphemy under article 298c because of a statement he had made in support of his Ahmadi belief. After a year in prison he finally obtained bail, but was subsequently convicted and sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 5000 Rupee fine. This was quashed on appeal to the Sessions court. He then moved to Rabwah, where he set up a new shop with Qu’ranic verses painted on the outside. He was again arrested under the blasphemy laws (298c) and obtained bail after 14 days. However, he was convicted and sentenced to 2 years imprison- ment (and a 3000 rupee fine) – but this was quashed on appeal. In December 1990 four further FIRs were issued in Rabwah by Mullah Khuda Bakhsh from Khatme Nabuwwat after Mr RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 56 The Review of Religions – May 2007 Shakoor offered Ahmadi books for sale at his shop. He was charged again under article 298c, but since then the case had been adjourned every month because the Mullah who brought the charge failed appear at court. His lawyer has made applications for his case to be dismissed on many occasions, without success. The Mullah is not arrested to appear, the case is simply adjourned. Mr. Shakoor reported that the local Mullahs will come and stand in front of his shop and shout abuse at him. This happens about four times per year (last occasion about 3 months ago) and forces him to close his shop until they leave. Appendix B8 Amnesty International Pakistan, Fact Finding Mission to Jhando Sahi, 13 August 2006 Fact Finding Report, Amnesty International Lahore Pakistan Date of visit: August 13, 2006 Team: Mr. Faiz ur Rehman (President Amnesty International Pakistan), Mr. Munawwar Ali Shahid (Gen Secretary Amnesty International Lahore), Mr. Irshad Ameen (Media Advisor AI Lahore – Senior Pakistani journalist) Summary/ Background On Saturday, 24 June, Waqar and Nawaz were burning the old pages of organizational as well as religious literature in the compound of Bait-ul-Zikr (Ahmadi worship place). After seeing this, a neighbour spread the word of burning the Qur’an among participants of a Muslim festival arranged nearby. Immediately a crowd of people rushed to the Ahmadi area of the village and severely tortured the two men. As if this were not enough, they turned to the village and harshly attacked the property, belongings and people of Ahmadiyya community in the village. They set two shops and 3 homes on fire with torture and humiliation of the peaceful Ahmadiyya citizens of the town. Experiencing this, around 70 Ahmadi villagers (12 out of 13 Ahmadi families in the village) left their homes in fear for their RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 57The Review of Religions – May 2007 lives and later, hundreds of people from the surroundings demonstrated, chanting anti- Ahmadi slogans. Arriving at the scene of the violence, the police did not control devastating mob humiliating and abusing the Ahmadis in the town and violently destroying their properties. Instead the police arrested seven Ahmadis and registered the incident under the notorious Section 295-b of the Criminal Code (the blasphemy law). On the other hand ‘NO’ person had been arrested from the attackers side. After living outside the town for more then a month the 12 Ahmadi families returned back to the town on Friday 11th August. Amnesty’s Fact Finding Mission The Amnesty fact-finding team planned a fact-finding visit to the town on August 13 to reveal the facts behind the issue and to observe the current situation of the victims in the town. The team spent 4 hours in fact-finding during which it visited the police station and all the affected sites and interviewed police investi- gation in-charge, the victims and the representatives of the provoker group. The Amnesty team started its fact-finding process from the police station Bombanwali where the members interviewed Mohammad Aslam, the sub- inspector and in-charge of investigation who told that on 24th June 2006 Ms. Kausar Bibi noticed from her rooftop that two persons were burning the pages of the holy Qur’an at Ahmadiyya Bait-ul-Zikr. She raised an alarm and gathered the people from around the site. The police reached to the occasion and registered the case under the section 295-b of the Criminal Code and investigated the case as the investigation in-charge. After investigation the four persons were arrested, among those two accused Zaheer Ahmed and Waqar were sent to jail on 26th. When the inspector was asked about the reaction of the police on the incidences of violence, RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE 58 The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE destruction and torture by the members of the mob against Ahmadis the inspector said, ‘since no Ahmadi reported the case to the police therefore the police took no action’. On a question about the application to the police by the Ahmadi victims the sub inspector said that he received the application on 16th July and registered the case against the offensives and made the application a part of the case. However, he affirmed no arrest from the offenders’ side. On a question regarding the steps taken by the police to provide security to the small Ahmadiyya community in the town he told that for their rehabilitation in the town, a 20 members’ committee had been formed which included 4 Ahmadis including Mohammad Nawaz, Sagheer Ahmed Numberdar, Mohammad Abdullah and Rana Mohammad Nasrullah Advocate. However while his interview with the fact- finding committee Mr. Nawaz renounced the formation of such committee and inclusion of Ahmadis in the committee. While replying to a question, Mr. Aslam, the sub inspector said, the offenders, who burnt the properties of Ahmadiyya com- munity in the town, looted the belongings and tortured the Ahmadis, would be arrested and would be brought [Ed] to justice but after more then two months of the incident no offender has been arrested. While visiting the sites and interviewing the affected people the committee noticed the heavy destruction of the properties of Ahmadis including devastation and setting fire to 3 homes, a tractor, 2 motorbikes, 2 shops and the Bait-ul-Zikr. The team visited the Ahmadi families for interviews who had recently been returned back to their homes after refuge of more than a month. The committee found the people in devastating condition since they found no single house of Ahmadis in the town with the facilities of fan, television and proper bedding. The effects of the psychological trauma were evident from their 59The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE faces and expressions. While interviews majority of the people including women told that many people used to abuse loudly and threatened them when they were out of homes. Many of the shopkeepers refused to sell the goods to the Ahmadis. The mother of Tariq Mahmood said, ‘We are facing humiliating response from the neighbours and inhabitants of the town who not only use abusive language for us but also for our sacred religious personalities, however, we are patiently bearing this all.’ She said, they were feeling themselves completely unsafe since their kids couldn’t sleep in the night due to continuous fear. She said they had lost all of their belongings and even no crockery was present in the home and in that devastating condition they were unable to do any business. They estimated a loss of more than 200,00 rupees during the attack. ‘We were in the home with some of our guests when the children informed us of a big crowd coming towards our home while continuously beating one of the Ahmadiis, Nawaz, said Tariq Mahmood. “We gathered the family members and rushed to our neighbours who, instead of giving us refuge, started beating our children and abusing the women. The mob entered our house and destroyed the household and looted the belongings includ- ing dresses and jewelry amounting to Rs. 175,000’. Mohammad Nawaz told that he arrived at the town from Gujranwala to get medicine. ‘I was preparing to go back that I heard noise and people knocked the door. As I opened the door many people pulled me outside and fixed a big cloth around my neck and started pushing me ahead of [Ed] the mob. Many people kept on beating me and pushing me around the town. When I was almost unconscious some people asked them to leave me and they left me there.’ Tariq Mahmood, the owner of the 60 The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS/ PART THREE Al-Fazal General Store told that the mob firstly looted the stuff from the shop and then set the shop to fire. Everything in the shop burned into ashes. Sajjad Ahmed the owner of the CD and audio shop told that the mob looted the whole stuff in the shop costing to Rs. 200,000 and then set the shop to fire. Naseer Ahmad told that he was coming back from Kamonke town when he saw a big crowd looting their homes and setting those into fire. ‘It was unbelievable for me. I couldn’t event think that such incidence can happen. The mob was ready to destroy anything even the people who were not even accused of doing anything. Why did they set our homes to fire?’ The estimated cost of the loss of his house was Rs. 150,000. In the last (Finally – Ed] the members of the fact-finding committee inter-viewed Faiz Ahmed and Rana Bashir Ahmed the two non-Ahmadi persons in the ‘peace committee’ as formed by the police. They repeated the same account as the cause of the conflict which was earlier described by the police officer. However both of them insisted that the people of the town were not involved in setting the houses to fire, torture on the Ahmadis and looting their belongings. ‘Those were the people from other towns [who – Ed] arrived to participate in the local festival’, they said. When they were asked, how did they come to recognise the Ahmadi people and their homes in the town, they had no answer. Moreover, both of them affirmed that NO Ahmadi was part of the ‘peace committee’. Faiz Ahmed who has returned from Korea to spend his annual leave told that it was not good to target the whole community if some members of a community were accused. He said he and his fellows witnessed the whole trauma and didn’t try to stop people for doing so. ‘We are political people and we will have to go to the people for their votes and that could have damaged our political position in the town.’ 61The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE Both of them told that there was huge number of police present in the town including 45 police vehicles when the mob was attacking and targeting the Ahmadis in the town. ‘Police might have taken no action to avoid any further damage.’ he said. Comments/ Recommendations We at Amnesty International (Lahore-Pakistan) fear that the perpetrators of attack on the Ahmadiyya community in Jhando Sahi may go unpunished and that such attacks will continue unless the Pakistan authorities respond quickly to bring the perpetrators to justice and take steps to protect Ahmadis against future attacks. The continued violence generally against the religious minorities and especially against the Ahmadiyya community in Pakistan is evident by the pre- vious attack on worshippers in a Baitul Zikr (Ahmadi mosque) in the village of Monga, near the town of Mandi Behauddin on 7 October 2005. Eight Ahmadis were killed and at least 18 injured in the attack. The perpetrators have not [been – Ed] brought to justice until now. Police investigations of previous targeted killings of Ahmadis in Pakistan have been slow or have not taken place at all. In many cases the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. We at Amnesty International believe that the government’s consistent failure to investigate attacks and killings of members of religious minorities fails to discourage further human rights abuses against such groups. The right to freedom of religion, as laid down in the Pakistani constitution and in international human rights law, must be made a reality for all religious minorities in Pakistan. Over the years we are getting information of numerous tar- geted killings of Ahmadis, usually carried out with impun- ity. In some cases, the targeted Ahmadis themselves were subjected to criminal charges. In one incident in October 2000, 62 The Review of Religions – May 2007 RABWAH – A PLACE FOR MARTYRS? PART THREE eight Ahmadis were murdered in the village of Ghatialian, Sialkot district, in an incident similar to that of 7 October 2005. In October 2000 gunmen opened fire on Ahmadis while they were gathered at a Bait ul Zikr for worship. Five Ahmadis who witnessed the attack and reported the incident to the police, along with 21 other Ahmadis, were arrested and many of them are still serving life sentences for what Amnesty International believes to be false charges. None of the gunmen were ever arrested or brought to justice. We request you to consider this report and gather more infor- mation on the issue through your other resources and help creating international pressure on Pakistani government to abolish the laws relating to religious offences, which effectively criminalise any exercise of the right to freedom of religion by Ahmadis and the blasphemy law under section 295C PPC. This is important since Pervez Musharraf government has already promised to consider abolishing this discriminatory law but no practical step has been taken in the positive direction. Signatures: Faiz ur Rehman President Amnesty International Pakistan Munawwar Ali Shahid General Secretary Amnesty International Lahore Irshad Ameen Senior Journalist The Daily Mashriq, Radio FM – 103, Lahore, Pakistan 63The Review of Religions – May 2007 Humanity First is a global charity registered in 23 countries with UNESCO NGO status. 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