Pakistan/UK: Demonstration in London tomorrow against Martial Law in Pakistan

The Campaign Against Martial Law
Saturday 10 November at 14:00h: Join the mass demonstration outside 10 Downing Street, London.
"General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan on 3rd November 2007 and imposed a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) that has suspended the Constitution and the fundamental rights of Pakistani citizens. This move is a declaration of Martial Law.
Since the enforcement of the PCO, Pakistan has witnessed gross violations of human rights as over 3,000 civil society activists have been arrested over the past four days. The General has clamped down on freedom of media/expression by arbitrarily imposing a media embargo: shutting down all private TV channels. Journalists trying to cover the crisis continue to face a severe security threat. Suspension of fundamental rights has meant the suspension of freedom of association which has allowed law enforcement agencies to act with impunity in their crackdown on peaceful protests by lawyers, students and civil society groups in the cities of Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta, and in the city of Multan in southern Punjab by using baton charges, tear gas and other forms of brute force.

The vast majority of these 3,000 people arrested nationwide are lawyers. In Lahore alone, the capital city of the most populous province of Punjab, 350 lawyers are being held under the draconian Anti-Terrorism Act. The vast majority, however, have been detained without charge. The lawyers have been sent to jail on judicial remand until November 10th. Almost two-thirds of Pakistan’s senior judges remain under house arrest. In Karachi, around 10 lawyers have been charged today, Thursday 8 November, with treason. There are grave concerns about the treatment meted out to those detained and we fear that in some cases the use of torture under interrogation may not be excluded. Ali Ahmed Kurd, who has been taken away by intelligence agencies, is in grave danger of being subjected to torture.

The two critical reasons declared by General Musharraf for the state of emergency are the rise of militancy (terrorism) and the increasing interference of the judiciary in government affairs. However, the first and main targets under emergency remain the legal fraternity (for leading the movement for judicial independence that began on March 9th, 2007) and civil society members (students, rights activists and journalists) and opposition party workers. The first important step taken by Musharraf was the replacement of the 13 judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry. The deposed Chief Justice Chaudhry is being detained and denied all contact with his lawyers and family.

General Musharraf’s illegal actions this year have outraged all sections of Pakistani civil life and people from all sections of society – trade unions, students, legal fraternity, rights activists and opposition parties – have come out on the streets to call for an end to military dictatorship.

Civil society activists, The National Union of Pakistani Students and Alumni, the Pakistani Lawyers Movement, and other students, lawyers, journalists and other concerened British Pakistanis have come together to form the CAMPAIGN AGAINST MARTIAL LAW. We invite you to join us in a mass protest demonstration outside 10 Downing Street on Saturday, 10th of November, 2007 and to express your solidarity with the thousands of lawyers and rights activists illegally detained in Pakistan.

The Campaign Against Martial Law demands:

1. The proclamation of emergency be immediately revoked and the Constitution reinstated with all fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed therein;

2. That Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the entire Supreme Court be fully restored;

3. The immediate release of all lawyers and activists detained over the past 5 days and the immediate withdrawal of all charges against them;

4. The full restoration of the freedom of media and the citizens’ right to free access to information

5. That free and fair elections be held on schedule to ensure peaceful transition to democracy."

8 November 2007