Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of Mr. Manzoor Pashteen and of at least 23 other human rights defenders

PAK 001 / 0120 / OBS 006Arbitrary detention /Judicial harassmentPakistanJanuary 31, 2020
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Pakistan.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)[1], as well as the arbitrary detention of at least 23 other human rights defenders, including PTM members and supporters. Mr. Manzoor Pashteen is a prominent human rights defender who has systematically denounced enforced disappearances in Pakistan and the human rights impacts of the Pakistani government’s fight against the Taliban[2].
According to the information received, on January 26, 2020, police officers arrested Mr. Manzoor Pashteen in the Shaheen Town area of Peshawar in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, on charges of “sedition” (Section 124of the Pakistani Penal Code), “condemning the creation of the country” (Section 123-A), “promoting enmity between different groups (Section 153-A), “criminal conspiracy” (Section 120-B), and “criminal intimidation” (Section 506). Police filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Mr. Manzoor Pashteen after a speech he gave at a PTM gathering in Dera Ismail Khan on January 18, 2020, during which he allegedly said that the 1973 Pakistani Constitution violated basic human rights. Mr. Manzoor Pashteen was allowed access to his lawyer and subsequently transferred to a jail in Dera IsmailKhan on a judicial remand of 14 days, while waiting to appear before a local magistrate.If prosecuted and convicted, Mr. Pashteen could face life imprisonment and a fine. Nine other PTM members who were attending the same gathering were detained along with Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, but were released from custody without charges the same day.
Moreover, on January 28, 2020, police officers detained 29 persons, including PTM members and political workers, outside the National Press Club in Islamabad while they were protesting against Mr. Manzoor Pashteen’s arrest. The protesters were beaten by the police before being dragged into police vehicles. They were taken to different police stations, including the Kohsar and F-7 police stations. While six of them, Mses. Ismat Shahjahan, Muneeba Hafeez and Maria Habib, and Messrs. Mohsin Dawar, Malik Gul Alam and Badshah Pashteen, were later released, 23 of them were still under arrest at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal. These include Messrs. Ammar Rashid, Arshad Ali, Islamuddin, Saddam Hussain, Sadiqullah, Muhammad Nawfil Saleemi, Samiullah, Sardar Muhammad Azim, Attaur Rehman, Shahrukn-e-Alam, Muhammad Ashraf, Saifullah Nasar, Ammar Khan, Asif Kamal, Naeemullah, Muhammad Ibrahim, Ashiqullah, Muhammad Anwar, Saqib Nawaz, Khayal-uddin, Khurram Qureshi, Zahid Khan and Doran Khan. They were formally charged and produced before a magistrate, denied bail, and have not been allowed any visits until now.
The Observatory recalls that PTM members have been regularly targeted by the police, which have filed cases against them, accusing them of committing sedition through their speeches.
In 2019, the Observatory reported: the killing of Mr. Ibrahim Arman Loni[3] , a PTM core committee member in Balochistan Province; the arbitrary detention of Pashtun and women’s rights defender Ms. Gulalai Ismail and 17 other PTM members;[4] as well as the judicial harassment of Ms. Gulalai Ismail’s family members[5].
Moreover, in May 2019, Mr. Mohsin Dawar and Mr. Ali Wazir, both elected Members of the National Assembly and affiliated with the PTM, were arrested on charges of “terrorism” and “murder” when security forces allegedly opened fire on a crowd of PTM members, leaving at least three people dead. Mr. Dawar and Mr. Ali Wazir have both denied these charges, saying they were there to investigate human rights abuses during security raids in the Khar Qamar area of North Waziristan District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. The two were later released but are still facing charges for the Khar Qamar incident.
In November 2019, Mr. Alamgir Wazir, a PTM supporter, was arrested on charges of “sedition”, after having taken part in a students’ solidarity march in Lahore. Mr. Alamgir Wazir is still in custody awaiting trial.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Manzoor Pashteen and the other above-mentioned human rights defenders still in detention, which seem to be aimed solely at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory calls on the Pakistani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Manzoor Pashteen and the other above-mentioned human rights defenders, and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all other human rights defenders in Pakistan.
Actions requested:
Please write to the authorities in Pakistan, urging them to:
i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, the other above-mentioned human rights defenders, and that of all human rights defenders in Pakistan;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, the other above-mentioned human rights defenders, and all the other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Manzoor Pashteen, the other above-mentioned human rights defenders, and all other human rights defenders in Pakistan, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;
iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;
v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Pakistan.
  • Mr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan; Fax: +92 51 920 8479; Email:
  • Mr. Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Minister in Charge for Interior and Narcotics Control; Fax: +92 51 922 04 04; Email:
  • Mr. Ijaz Shah, Minister of State for Interior, Fax: +92 51 920 2624, Email:
  • Ambassador Farukh Amil, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax:022 734 80 85; Email:
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Pakistan located in your country.
***Paris-Geneva, January 31, 2020
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
[1]PTM is an alliance that calls for the de-mining of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas, greater freedom of movement in these areas, an end to extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions, and for the accountability of perpetrators of such acts within a truth and reconciliation framework.[2]See for example Observatory Urgent Appeal PAK 003 / 1119 / OBS 096, published on November 21, 2019. As of June 30, 2019, Pakistan government’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance has registered 2,122 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances. See:[3]See Observatory Urgent Appeal PAK001 / 0219 / OBS 015, published on February 14, 2019.[4]Idem.[5]See Observatory Urgent Appeal PAK 002 / 0719 / OBS 062, published on July 16, 2019, and PAK 002 / 0719 / OBS 62.2, published on October 25, 2019.
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