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Minorities abused in Pakistan as no religious freedom: US

The annual US State Department Report on Global Religious Freedom, which was released by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, said “organised violence against minorities have increased” in Pakistan.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: MSN News | India
By Agencies | November 18, 2010

Washington: The US on Thursday expressed concern over the discrimination against minorities in Pakistan, saying serious problems remain with regard to religious freedom in the country.

“There have been attacks against Christians, against the Ahmadis. There’s still discriminatory laws on the books, blasphemy laws, anti-Ahmadi laws. We’re raising these issues with the government of Pakistan,” said Michael Posner, the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour.

The annual US State Department Report on Global Religious Freedom, which was released by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday, said “organised violence against minorities have increased” in Pakistan.

“Organised violence against minorities increased; for example, there was violence against Christians in Gojra, Punjab, and a terrorist attack on Ahmadis in Lahore, Punjab,” it said, adding “There were instances in which law enforcement personnel abused religious minorities in custody”.

The Ahmadiyya community continued to face governmental and societal discrimination and legal bars to the practice of its religious beliefs. Members of other Islamic sects, Christians, Sikhs, and Hindus also reported governmental and societal discrimination, the report said.

Despite the government’s steps to protect religious minorities, the number and severity of reported high-profile cases against minorities increased during the reporting period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010.

Posner, responding to questions after the release of the annual Religious Freedom report, said one of the things this report does is identify, in Pakistan and elsewhere, government actions that contribute to the problem.

It expressed concern over discriminatory legislation and the government’s failure or delay in addressing religious hostility by societal actors fostered religious intolerance, acts of violence, and intimidation against religious minorities.

During the reporting period, US embassy officials closely monitored the treatment of religious minorities, worked to eliminate the teaching of religious intolerance, and encouraged the amendment or repeal of the blasphemy laws, it added.

Source: Agencies

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Filed under: Annual Report, Blasphemy, Human Rights, Minorities, persecution

Human Rights: ‘All are equal but some are more equal than others.’

As far as the U.N.O’s Charter of Human Rights is concerned, by and large its value remains academic, in that it is a testimony to a very important historical fact; namely, that over the centuries man’s conception of human rights has gradually evolved to reach a stage where it could be documented in such detail…

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | US Desk
Source/Credit: Ahmadiyya Jama’at MauritiusAlIslam.Org
By Dr. Iftikhar Ayaz, OBE | October 10, 2010

The following is an excerpt from a speech made at the 49th Annual Convention in Mauritius.

Since times immemorial, man has, at the hand of man, been suffering all kinds of miseries and cruelties; his rights have been violated; he has become alienated from his own species.

Today, most of the evils humanity is confronted with are rooted in the violation and deprivation of human rights. No doubt in the dark corridors of history, we hear echoes reverberating protest against human sufferings and exploitation. No doubt in these very corridors sometimes we also see a chink of light of hope for man in the form of Charters, such as Magna Carta, English Petition of Rights, The Virginian Declaration of Rights, American Bill of Rights and so on and so forth. However, when we critically look at these various documents, we are a bit disappointed. We soon realise that they are not after all what humanity expected them to be. They disappoint not so much in what they say, but in what they leave out to say. They give no redeeming hope to man, or offer any source of perennial light for humanity. They, if not in their letter, at least in their spirit and the way in which they were composed, and have been understood, interpreted and applied, epitomise the Orwellian formula:

‘All are equal but some are more equal than others.’

(Adapted from Animal Form – Penguin Classic, by G. Orwell).

As far as the U.N.O’s Charter of Human Rights is concerned, by and large its value remains academic, in that it is a testimony to a very important historical fact; namely, that over the centuries man’s conception of human rights has gradually evolved to reach a stage where it could be documented in such detail as we find in the U.N. Charter and subsequent Declarations.

Dr. Iftikhar Ayaz, OBE

However, I personally have been associated with the U.N. Human Rights organisations for the past seventeen years and can vouchsafe that in spite of the Charter, the world situation with regard to Human Rights has not changed much since its inception. If anything, it has worsened in many respects as we witness today. The means of subjecting man to all kinds of exploitation and suffering have become more sophisticated and its ways more subtle. Might has become mightier, and the right has become correspondingly weaker. The hypocrisy, the apathy, the selfishness, the arrogance of those who presume to be the spokesmen of human rights and who regard themselves as their custodians, have bred international terrorism, militancy, religious fundamentalism and all kinds of psychopathic violence. We all live under the constant shadow of terror. Man has turned against man, as he never did in the past. [Read more… Human Rights and Islam]

Read the complete article here: Human Rights and Islam

Filed under: Dr. Iftikhar Ayaz, Human Rights, Islam, United Nations

PAKISTAN: Asma Jahangir awarded UN prize for promoting human rights

Internationally, Ms. Jahangir is known for her roles as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | UN Desk
Source/Credit: Asian Human Rights Comission
By Press Release | November 17, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

The Asian Human Rights Commission offers its warmest and sincere congratulations to Ms. Asma Jahangir on the announcement that Pakistan’s leading human rights defender has been named as this year’s winner of a United Nations award that recognizes outstanding individual contribution to promoting a culture of human rights around the world.

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, nominated Ms. Jahangir as laureate of this year’s Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights in recognition of her work in Pakistan’s Supreme Court where she championed the rights of religious minorities, women and children.

Ms. Jahangir is the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served as its Secretary-General and chairperson.

Internationally, Ms. Jahangir is known for her roles as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Announcing Ms. Jahangir as the winner of the prize today as the UN marks the International Day for Tolerance is intended honour her commitment and important contribution to fostering inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, tolerance, mutual understanding and cooperation for peace, UNESCO said.

The award carries a $25,000 cash reward, a diploma and a bronze trophy, which will be presented at a ceremony in Bilbao, Spain, on 10 December, which is observed globally as Human Rights Day.

The UNESCO/Bilbao Prize is given out every two years and is funded by a donation from the Spanish city. It succeeded the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education that was set up 30 years ago.

The prize was first awarded to Stéphane Hessel, a French human rights advocate, in 2008.

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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Filed under: AHRC, Asma Jahangir, Award, Human Rights, Pakistan, UNESCO, United Nations