Category Archives: Human Rights

Pakistan: 933 killed for honor in two years

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ISLAMABAD: Some 933 people were killed across the country in the name of honor during the past two years while 83 non-Muslims were also reported to be killed during the period. The majority of these cases were reported in Sindh.

These statistics were provided to the National Assembly on Friday by Federal Ministry of Law, in response to a query raised by an MNA, Saman Sultan Jaffri.

According to the report, Sindh proved to be the worst in terms of safety of minorities as 46 cases of non-Muslims’ killings were reported in the province, ruled by Pakistan Peoples Party.

As per the law ministry’s Human Rights Regional Offices – functioning at all four provincial headquarters – 17 non-Muslims were killed in Punjab, 9 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and 11 in Balochistan, during this period.

The report said a total of 456 and 477 cases of honor killing were reported in Pakistan in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Once again, the greatest number of such cases (602) was reported from Sindh.

As per the federal law ministry’s data for 2013, 66 cases of honour killing were reported in Punjab, 315 in Sindh, 47 in K-P and 28 in Balochistan. Similarly, 477 such cases were reported in 2014. Of these, 80 cases belonged to Punjab, 287 to Sindh, 78 to K-P and 32 to Balochistan.

As per Inspector General of Police Islamabad, six cases of non-Muslims’ killings were registered in the capital city during the last two years. Of these two cases were challaned, one remained untraced, whereas three cases are under investigation. However, no case of honour killing was registered in the capital during the last two years.

The assembly was told that these Human Rights regional offices are pursuing the cases with agencies concerned and are taking action against culprits to ensure justice to the aggrieved families.

However, the interior ministry and National Police Bureau informed the National Assembly that they did not have any requisite data regarding these crimes.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 9th, 2015.

Egypt arrests 33 men for alleged debauchery

In November, a Cairo court sentenced eight men to three years in jail for ‘inciting debauchery and offending public morality’ after video footage of an alleged gay marriage went viral on the Internet. (Video still)

Thirty-three men have been arrested in a night-time police raid on a Cairo bathhouse for alleged “debauchery”, a security official said on Monday.

Homosexuality is not specifically banned under Egyptian law, so they were arrested in connection with the offence of debauchery instead.

If tried and convicted they could face lengthy prison terms.

“The police arrested 33 men on Sunday night from a common public bathhouse in the Azbakeya neighbourhood of Cairo for practising debauchery,” General Ali al-Demerdash, head of the Cairo security directorate, said.

He told AFP that the arrests came following an order from the prosecutor general.

Defendants in similar cases in the past have been charged with debauchery and “scorning religion.”

In November, a Cairo court sentenced eight men to three years in jail for “inciting debauchery and offending public morality” after video footage of an alleged gay marriage went viral on the Internet.

Death penalty sought for Nigeria child bride

Sani Garba, 55, holds the picture of his 14-year-old daughter-in-law Wasila Tasi’u on
August 10, 2014 inside her abandoned matrimonial home in the village of Unugwar Yansoro.
(File Photo: AFP)

The father of a 14-year-old child bride accused of murdering her husband said Thursday he was appealing to a Nigerian court to spare his daughter the death sentence.

Wasila Tasi’u is on trial for the murder of her 35-year-old husband, Umar Sani, who died after eating food that Tasi’u allegedly laced with rat poison.

“We are appealing to the judge to consider Wasilat’s plea,” her father, Isyaku Tasi’u, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

On Wednesday witnesses told the High Court in Gezawa, a town 60 miles outside Nigeria’s second largest city of Kano, that Tasi’u killed her husband two weeks after their wedding in April. Three others allegedly died after eating the poisoned meal.

The prosecution, led by Lamido Soron-Dinki, senior state council from the Kano State Ministry of Justice, is seeking the death penalty.

The case calls into question the legality of trying a 14-year-old for murder under criminal law and the rights of child brides, who are common in the poverty-stricken, predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria region.

“She was married to a man that she didn’t love. She protested but her parents forced her to marry him,” Zubeida Nagee, a women’s rights activist in Kano, told AP. Nagee and other activists have written a letter of protest to the Kano state deputy governor.

Nagee said Tasi’u was a victim of systematic abuse endured by millions of girls in the region. Activists say the blend of traditional customs, Islamic law and Nigeria’s constitutional law poses a challenge when advocating for the rights of young girls in Nigeria.

Justice Mohammed Yahaya adjourned the court until December 22. Tasi’u is in state juvenile custody.

Saudi university bans colored abayas on campus

The university caught two of its students wearing colored abayas recently – similiar to the ones pictured – and said the colors were not suitable for an educational institution. (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

The University of Dammam’s women’s campus has banned its students from wearing colored abayas.

The university caught two of its students wearing colored abayas recently and said the colors were not suitable for an educational institution.

A student said last week supervisors and security guards at the university initiated a campaign to restrict the abaya color to black.

Student Nour Abdulhadi said the only black abayas rule is being enforced by the university across all of its campuses. Violating it is a serious offense that is recorded in the student’s disciplinary record.

Supervisors at the university disapprove of the market’s influence in selling beige, brown, grey and other colored abayas. The Humanities College is enforcing the rule among its students to prevent them from having any violations recorded on their disciplinary records.

Moreover, workers at stores selling abayas said official directorates inspected stores recently and slapped fines on stores selling colored abayas. Designers also said they received warnings to only make black abayas. Store owners said the new violations were issued by the Ministry of Labor in cooperation with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (the Haia).

The aim is to make sure all designs being sold in the Saudi market conform to the Kingdom’s Islamic dress code.

Users on social media websites were divided on the new regulations. Many sympathized with shop owners for their financial losses but supported the ministry’s regulations.

A hash tag on the subject was created and some supported the decision saying that non-black abayas were a mockery of Islamic dress while others said colored abayas are a personal freedom.

Sociologist Mohammad Al-Zahrani said the abaya has been a subject of dispute for two decades now. He said the General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta said 14 years ago that the correct Islamic code of dress for females should be designed to cover their bodies.

“In my opinion, the regulations in the women’s university are not oppressive. On the contrary, they ensure women are conforming to their religion’s modest way of dressing,” al-Zahrani said. There are a number of features that must be in every abaya in order for it to qualify as an Islamic dress.

The abaya must be made of thick fabric, not be transparent, it must be loose-fitting and cover the entire body, the sleeves must not be too wide, there must not be any attractive embroidery on it and it must not be similar to men’s clothing nor clothing normally worn by Westerners.

From that definition, the presidency meant that any abaya violating the said conditions must not be sold in the Kingdom, according to al-Zahrani.

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This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Nov. 25, 2014.

Iran: Woman gets jail time for attending volleyball match

Ghoncheh Ghavami (screen capture: BBC)

Ghoncheh Ghavami (screen capture: BBC)
TEHRAN — A British-Iranian woman who was arrested in Tehran after trying to attend a volleyball match has been sentenced to one year in jail, her lawyer was reported as saying Sunday.

Ghoncheh Ghavami, a 25-year-old law graduate from London, who was detained in June at a Tehran stadium where Iran’s national volleyball team was to play Italy, went on trial last month.

“According to the verdict she was sentenced to one year,” her lawyer Alizadeh Tabatabaie was quoted in Iranian media as saying, noting that the judge had shown him the sentence.

But no reason was given for the conviction.

Iranian officials have said Ghavami was detained for security reasons unrelated to the volleyball match. So far she has been held in the capital’s notorious Evin Prison for 126 days.

The “Free Ghoncheh Ghavami” Facebook page where her friends and family campaigned for her release features photographs of her against the slogan: “Jailed for wanting to watch a volleyball match.”

An update on the page on Sunday appeared to corroborate the one year sentence but bemoaned the closed-doors legal process that has prevailed in the case.

“This morning Ghoncheh’s family and lawyer returned empty handed from branch 26 of Revolutionary court,” it said.

“It is not clear to her family and lawyer as to what the current legal basis of her detention is. A fair and just legal process according to Iran’s legal framework is the basic right of every Iranian citizen. Why are these rights not upheld in Ghoncheh’s case?”

Ghavami’s arrest came after female fans and even women journalists were told they would not be allowed to attend the volleyball match at Azadi (“Freedom” in Persian) stadium in the capital.

National police chief General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said it was “not yet in the public interest” for men and women to attend such events together. “The police are applying the law,” he said at the time.

Women are also banned from attending soccer matches in Iran, with officials saying this is to protect them from lewd behavior among male fans.

Iran hangs 26-year-old woman

Reyhaneh Jabbari is 967th person to be executed since Hassan Rouhani became Iran’s president in August last year

Reyhaneh Jabbari Iran hangs woman despite international campaign

Iran has executed Rayhaneh Jabbari despite an international campaign Photo: REUTERS

Amnesty International denounced “another bloody stain” on Iran’s human rights record on Saturday when a 26-year-old woman was executed for allegedly killing a man who she said was intent on rape.

Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged at dawn in Rajaie Shahr prison outside Tehran after spending seven years behind bars. She was the 967th person to be executed since Hassan Rouhani took office as Iran’s president on 4 Aug 2013, according to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre.

The state media announced that Miss Jabbari had been put to death after the family of the man she was accused of killing declined to grant a reprieve. Her mother, Shole Pakravan, confirmed the execution and said she was going to a cemetery to identify her daughter’s corpse.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups had campaigned for Miss Jabbari to be spared the death penalty. On several occasions, her execution was thought to be imminent, but each time there was a delay. In the end, however, Iran’s hardline judiciary proved impermeable to outside pressure.

“This is another bloody stain on Iran’s human rights record,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, the deputy director of Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme. “Once again Iran has insisted on applying the death penalty despite serious concerns over the fairness of the trial.”

Miss Jabbari was sentenced to death in 2009 after what Amnesty called a “deeply flawed investigation”. She admitted stabbing Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former intelligence ministry official, but pleaded self-defence. On her account, she stabbed Sarbandi in the back as he was trying to rape her – but the victim was actually killed by another named person, who was never the focus of inquiry.

Amnesty said these claims “if proven” could have exonerated Miss Jabari. But they were never “properly investigated, raising many questions about the circumstances of the killing”.

Amnesty added that the judiciary had “pressured” Miss Jabbari to “replace her lawyer, Mohammad Ali Jedari Foroughi, for a more inexperienced one, in an apparent attempt to prevent an investigation of her claims”.

Over the last decade, Iran’s regime has typically hanged between 500 and 600 people every year, giving the country the highest number of executions in the world, apart from China. Unlike in China, however, hangings in Iran often take place in public.

The pace of executions has accelerated since Mr Rouhani became president: 381 people were hanged between his accession to office and 31 Dec 2013. Another 586 are known to have been put to death so far this year, including Miss Jabbari, according to a database maintained by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre.

While Mr Rouhani has moderated Iran’s foreign policy, critics say that he has done nothing to ease the regime’s domestic oppression. In particular, he appointed a notorious figure, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, as justice minister. Mr Pour-Mohammadi was dubbed the “minister of murder” by Human Rights Watch for his role in overseeing the mass killing of thousands of prisoners in 1988.