Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-103-2016

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PAKISTAN: Release Kashmiri journalist, missing after arrest by ISI agents
ISSUES: Disappearance, arbitrary arrest, torture, extrajudicial killing, impunity,


Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of Tanveer Ahmed, a Kashmiri freelance journalist and researcher on public policy. He was last seen in Pakistani Kashmir on August 15, when persons claiming to be ISI agents picked him up. Ahmed has been critical about the selection process of eight reserved seats in the Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) Assembly. Though he is a friend to the newly elected Prime Minister of AJK, his criticism of the selection process has resulted in vindictive government action.
CASE NARRATIVE:
According to an application submitted to a local police station by Tanveer Ahmedís wife on 15th August 2016, Tanveer Ahmed was kidnapped by agents of the Pakistani armed forces at Dohsa Morr, Abbaspur District, Poonch, Azad Kashmir. Since then, his whereabouts remain unknown.
For sometime, Tanveer had been criticising the government of AJK for adopting unilateral practices and for not following transparency in the electoral process. He was also a candidate for the reserved seats of the newly elected assembly and he sought his nomination from the Prime Minister to become a member of assembly. The Prime Minister, Mr. Raja Farooq Haider, had four meetings with him, which resulted in the realisation of drastic differences on transparency issues.
According to the police report, persons in civilian clothes abducted Tanveer; the police refused to mention the name of the intelligence agency, the ISI. It is reported that the men impersonating themselves as the agents of the Pakistan armed forces abducted Tanveer from Sehnsa Kotli, Azad Kashmir. Later on, it was revealed that he was abducted by the ISI, Pakistanís notorious intelligence agency.
The family members of Ahmed apprehend that he will be tortured in illegal detention and may be killed extrajudicially, as it is the practice of armed forces and its intelligence agencies to deal with critics.
Kashmiri journalists are at the receiving end of violence and torture from both the Military and the militants; the shrinking space for freedom of expression has compelled many journalists to remain silent, those who refuse to cede to the demands are forced into exile, never to return home, or, worse, are killed for reporting the truth.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman of United Kashmir Peopleís National Party (UKPNP) has strongly condemned the arbitrary arrest and illegal confinement of the Kashmiri journalist and demands his unconditional release. Mr. Kashmiri urged international organizations of human rights and international unions of journalists to help secure the life of this Kasmiri journalist Tanveer Ahmed, and put pressure on Pakistani security agencies to stop harassing, abducting, and killing Kashmiri nationalists and journalists.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government regularly bans books that it considers to be prejudicial to the “ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistanî. The authorities also coerce and torture journalist and keeps firm check on them to ensure the ideology is perpetuated. Many journalists have been deemed ìpersona non grataî and banished from the territory. Foreign journalists too are not spared from torture.

According Human Rights Watch, on 10 July 2003, a Reuters correspondent, Waheed Kiyani, was arrested in District Rawalakot, Azad Kashmir, while returning after attending a conference titled ‘Kashmir Unity Conference’ at Khaigala, where AJK and Gilgit Baltistan leadership was present. Waheed was blindfolded and his camera/photos were confiscated and he was taken to the ISI headquarters and to a torture cell near Rawalakot.
Following pressure by fellow journalists and the news agency Reuters, Waheed was released two days later. On the same day, he attended a seminar in Muzaffarabad. Kiyani covered the event. He was called on stage by General Anwar, the AJK President, who told him in full public view to ìforget it and be grateful you are alive,î and ìoffer thanksgiving prayers.
SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities calling on them to immediately recover Tanveer Anwar, journalist and well-known researcher. It is feared that Tanveer will be tortured in illegal detention and may be killed through extrajudicial methods, as is the practice of Pakistani intelligence agencies in AJK.
The government of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan must respect press freedom and allow full independent coverage of both past and ongoing events in Azad Kashmir. The state must remove formal and informal prohibitions on news gathering and reporting by the Azad Kashmir and Pakistani media, and accord all journalists full freedom of movement. Also stop harassing and intimidating the journalists in Azad Kashmir.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the UN rapporteur on freedom of expression seeking their urgent interventions into this matter.
To support this case, please check below:

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Release Kashmiri journalist, missing after arrest by ISI agents
Name of victim: Tanveer Ahmed, kidnapped by ISI agents from Dohsa Morr, Abbaspur District. Poonch, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan

Names of alleged perpetrators: State intelligence agency
Date of incident: 15 August 2016
Place of incident: Kotli, Azad Kashmir

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the arbitrary arrest and detention of Tanveer Ahmed, a freelance Journalist and researcher on public policy in Pakistani Kashmir. He was last seen in Pakistani Kashmir on August 15, when persons claiming to be ISI agents picked him up. Ahmed has been critical about the selection process of eight reserved seats in the Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) Assembly. Though he is a friend to the newly elected Prime Minister of AJK, his criticism of the selection process has resulted in vindictive government action.

According to an application submitted to a local police station by Tanveer Ahmedís wife on 15th August 2016, Tanveer Ahmed was kidnapped by agents of the Pakistani armed forces at Dohsa Morr, Abbaspur District, Poonch, Azad Kashmir. Since then, his whereabouts remain unknown.

For some time, Tanveer had been criticising the government of AJK for adopting unilateral practices and for not following transparency in the electoral process. He was also a candidate for the reserved seats of the newly elected assembly and he sought his nomination from the Prime Minister to become a member of assembly. The Prime Minister, Mr. Raja Farooq Haider, had four meetings with him, which resulted in the realisation of drastic differences on transparency issues.
According to the police report, persons in civilian clothes abducted Tanveer; the police refused to mention the name of the intelligence agency, the ISI. It is reported that the men impersonating themselves as the agents of the Pakistan armed forces abducted Tanveer from Sehnsa Kotli, Azad Kashmir. Later on, it was revealed that he was abducted by the ISI, Pakistanís notorious intelligence agency.

The family members of Ahmed apprehend that he will be tortured in illegal detention and may be killed extrajudicially, as it is the practice of armed forces and its intelligence agencies to deal with critics.

It is appalling for me that Kashmiri journalists are at the receiving end of violence and torture from both the Military and the militants; the shrinking space for freedom of expression has compelled many journalists to remain silent, those who refuse to cede to the demands are forced into exile, never to return home, or, worse, are killed for reporting the truth.
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, exiled Chairman of United Kashmir Peopleís National Party (UKPNP) has strongly condemned the arbitrary arrest and illegal confinement of the Kashmiri journalist and demands his unconditional release. Mr. Kashmiri urged international organizations of human rights and international unions of journalists to help secure the life of this Kasmiri journalist Tanveer Ahmed, and put pressure on Pakistani security agencies to stop harassing, abducting, and killing Kashmiri nationalists and journalists.

The Azad Jammu and Kashmir government regularly bans books that it considers to be prejudicial to the “ideology of the state’s accession to Pakistanî. The authorities also coerce and torture journalist and keeps firm check on them to ensure the ideology is perpetuated. Many journalists have been deemed ìpersona non grataî and banished from the territory. Foreign journalists too are not spared from torture.

I therefore, urge you to immediately recover Tanveer Anwar, journalist and well-known researcher. It is feared that Tanveer will be tortured in illegal detention and may be killed through extrajudicial methods, as is the practice of Pakistani intelligence agencies in AJK.

The government of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan must respect press freedom and allow full independent coverage of both past and ongoing events in Azad Kashmir. The state must remove formal and informal prohibitions on news gathering and reporting by the Azad Kashmir and Pakistani media, and accord all journalists full freedom of movement. Also stop harassing and intimidating the journalists in Azad Kashmir.

Yours Sincerely,

 


PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO

  1. Mr. Raja Muhammad Farooq Haider Khan
    Prime Minister Secretariat Azad Jammu and Kashmir Muzaffarabad and Kashmir House Islamabad
    Prime Minister Secretariat, Muzaffarbad
    Azad Kashmir
    Fax: +92 5822 921607
    Address in PAKISTAN:
    Kashmir House, F-5, Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 9206288
    Email: pm@pmajk.gov.pk
  2. Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan
    Federal Minister for Interior
    R Block, Pak Secretariat
    Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 9202624
    Email: interior.complaintcell@gmail.com or ministry.interior@gmail.com
  3. Sikandar Sultan Raja, Chief Secretary of Azad State of Jammu & Kashmir
    Office of the Chief Secretary, Block No. 2, New Civil Secretariat, Chatter Domail, Muzaffarabad.
    Phone Numbers +92 5822-921034, + 92 5822-921395
    Fax Number
    +92 5822-921982
    Email: csajkpk@gmail.com
  4. Mr. Justice Tahir Shahbaz
    Registrar
    Supreme Court of Pakistan
    Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
    PAKISTAN
    Fax: +92 51 9213452
    Email: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk
    Thank you.
    Urgent Appeals Programme
    Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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