The Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and Crimes Against Human Rights Defenders in the UNO-declared Disputed Region of Gilgit Baltistan

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The General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights Council, Geneva

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Agenda Item 5: Human Rights Bodies and Mechanisms 

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General Debate

The Rights of the Indigenous Peoples and Crimes Against Human Rights Defenders in the UNO-declared Disputed Region of Gilgit Baltistan

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By Senge Sering, World Economic & Resource Council  

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September 24, 2015  

 

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Honourable Mr. President,

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WERC draws attention towards the worsening trend of threats and attacks on civil society actors and human rights defenders who coordinate and cooperate with the UN system.

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WERC reminds the Council members that UNHRC resolutions 15/21, 21/16 and 24/5 with special emphasis on minorities guarantee everyone the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; also vital to promote democracy and socio-economic development, and condemns acts of intimidation or reprisal against those who cooperate with the United Nations.

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WERC welcomes recent treaties recognizing UN’s responsibility to protect rights defenders facing intimidation and reprisals. Further, WERC condemns the states which continue to violate the UN declaration on human rights defenders by labelling them as foreign agents, traitors and terrorists.

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Recently several rights defenders including Safdar Ali, Iftikhar Hussain and Nadir Hassan were detained and were subjected to preventive detention, solitary confinement, travel ban and torture, for visiting the United Nations office in Gilgit Baltistan. Authorities have also charged dozens of others including Babajan and Tahir Ali for sedition for requesting the United Nations to play its due role in Gilgit Baltistan, a disputed territory which remains in Pakistan’s temporary control.

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WERC reminds the Council that the UN cannot function without regular inputs from the civil society and such reprisals only deter rights defenders from cooperating with the UN mechanisms and seeking UN assistance when due. The cases against Safdar Ali and others is a challenge to the integrity, credibility and daily functioning of the UN system and abandoning them will only betray their trust and belittle values and principles the UN stands for.

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The Secretary General Ban Ki Moon recently said, “States have fundamental responsibility to protect who advocate for fundamental rights. When they fail to do so, the United Nations must stand up and speak out.”

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Realizing Pakistan’s failure to uphold its international legal obligations in Gilgit Baltistan; WERC respectfully urges the Council members to call upon Pakistan to conduct prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations against the rights defenders and ensure their immediate release and access to the United Nations office in Gilgit. We further call out on Pakistan to facilitate visit of mandate holders and experts to follow up on complaints of human rights abuses in Gilgit Baltistan.

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I thank you Mr. President

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