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Pakistan Appeal Re Mukhtar Mai: write letters and emails to the authorities

by sacw.net, 5 February 2009

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Political interference in Mukhtar’s case should be checked

Special Urgent Appeal

Please react before 10th February 2009

Summary:

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has listed Mukhtar Mai’s case for hearing in the 2nd week of February 2009 (hearing is expected on 10th or 11th February).

Mukhtar Mai of Meerwala village, Tehsil Jatoi, District Muzaffargarh in the South Punjab Region of Pakistan was gang-raped in 2002 on the order of a council of elders (panchayat) as punishment for her 12-year-old brother’s alleged affair with a woman of a higher clan, the Mastoi.

The accused were apprehended due to public pressure from the local civil society organizations and the international community. Mukhtar Mai’s case is considered highly sensitive and was pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan since July 2005.

On December 11, 2008 a message was sent to Mukhtar Mai by Sardar Abdul Qayyum, a sitting Federal Minister for Defence Production, to drop the charge against the accused. According to Mukhtar Mai, the Minister called her uncle Ghulam Hussain to his place in Jatoi and passed on a message to Mukhtar that she should drop the charges against the thirteen accused of the Mastoi tribe who were involved either in the verdict against Mukhtar or gang raped her. The Minister said that if she does not comply, he and his associates will not let the Supreme Court’s decision go in favour of Mukhtar. It is believed that the Mastoi clan have political influence of sufficient weight to bring pressure to bear on the supreme court via establishment and political figures.

Action Requested:

Mukhtar Mai, her friends and colleagues call upon the international community to write letters and emails to the authorities in Pakistan urging them to:

  • ensure Mukhtar Mai’s case is processed without any political pressure or influence
  • take special and urgent measures to ensure Mukhtar Mai’s safety and security before, during and especially after the hearing
  • hold the Federal Minister accountable for his interference in an adjudicated matter and for threatening Mukhtar Mai

Write Letters to the following:

His Excellency

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
- President of Pakistan
- President’s Avenue
- Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- Phone: +92-51-9206069
- FAX: +92-51-9203297 & +92-51-922 1422

His Excellency

Mr. Yousuf Raza Gillani
- Prime Minister of Pakistan
- Prime Minister House
- Islamabad
- Phone: +92-51-9206111
- Fax: +92-51-9206907

Mr. Rehman Malik
- Advisor / Minister for Interior
- R Block, Pak Secretariat
- Islamabad (Pakistan)
- Email Address: ministry.interior at gmail.com, -interior.complaintcell at gmail.com
- Tele : +92-51-9212026
- Fax: +92-51- 9202624

Ms. Sherry Rehman
- Minister for Women Development
- 1/F, State Building: 5
- Ministry of Women Development
- Islamabad
- PAKISTAN
- +92-51-920 1083

Mr. Salman Tasseer
- Governor of Punjab
- Governor House
- Lahore
- Fax: +92-42-9200077,

Sample letter:

We are gravely concerned on the fact that a sitting Federal Minister Mr. Qayyum Jatoi has pressurized Mukhtar Mai, the know human rights campaigner, to drop charges against the accused in her case.

We believe that Minister’s message is an indirect threat to the life of Mukhtar Mai and we feel that anything could happen and anyone can be used against Mukhtar, including extremists, outlaws etc.

According to Mukhtar Mai, the Minister called her uncle Ghulam Hussain on11th December 2008 to his place in Jatoi and passed on a message to Mukhtar that she should drop the charges against the thirteen accused of the Mastoi tribe who were involved either in the verdict against Mukhtar or gang raped her. The Minister said that if she does not comply, he and his associates will not let the Supreme Court’s decision go in favour of Mukhtar.

We have learned that the hearing of Mukhtar Mai’s case has been listed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan for the 2nd week of February 2009. The Minister’s interference shows that the Mastoi clan have political influence of sufficient weight to bring pressure to bear on the supreme court.

We therefore urge your authority to:

  • ensure Mukhtar Mai’s case is processed without any political pressure or influence
  • take special and urgent measures to ensure Mukhtar Mai’s safety and security before, during and especially after the hearing
  • hold the Federal Minister accountable for his interference in an adjudicated matter and for threatening Mukhtar Mai

Thank you very much for your attention.

Background:

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai of Meerwala village, Tehsil Jatoi, District Muzafargarh in the South Punjab Region of Pakistan was gang-raped on the order of a council of elders (panchayat) as punishment for her 12-year-old brother’s alleged affair with a woman of a higher clan Mastoi.

The accused were apprehended due to public pressure from the local civil society organizations and the international community. Mukhtar Mai’s case was tried in the local Anti-Terrorist Court against thirteen defendants who were involved in pronouncing the verdict of the panchayat or gang raped Mukhtar. The Anti-Terrorist Court gave death sentences to six accused while seven others were released.

In March 2005, the Lahore High Court released six on appeal and the death sentence of one of the accused was changed into life imprisonment. However, due to public pressure, the accused were placed under house arrest by the authorities under Provision of the Maintenance of Public Order.

After the High Court’s verdict, the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Mr. Mohammed Ifftikhar Chaudhary took a Suo Moto action and suspended the decision of the lower court. Mukhtar Mai’s appeal was accepted by the Supreme Court and the Court ordered the re-arrest of all the accused. Thirteen defendants are currently in jail, including the leader Mastoi tribe Mr. Faiz Mastoi, who headed the panchayat. Mukhtar Mai’s case is still pending in the Supreme Court.

Today, Mukhtar Mai inspires people around the world because of her courage and humanitarian efforts. In 2004, TIME magazine listed her as one of the world’s most influential people. The following year, Glamour Magazine named her its “Woman of the Year,” and in 2007 she was awarded the North-South Prize from the EU Council of Europe, which is granted to individuals who have “demonstrated strong and visible commitment, outstanding achievement and clear hope for the future regarding human rights protection.”

A sitting Federal Minister of the Pakistan Peoples Party, Sardar Mohammed Abdul Qayyum Khan Jatoi, has pressured Mukhtar Mai to drop charges against the perpetrators who are detained on the charge of gang raping her in 2002 and has threatened to influence the decision of the Supreme Court in favour of her perpetrators.

According to Mukhtar Mai, the Minister called her uncle Ghulam Hussain on 11th December 2008 to his place in Jatoi and passed on a message to Mukhtar that she should drop the charges against the thirteen accused of the Mastoi tribe who were involved either in the verdict against Mukhtar or gang raped her. The Minister said that if she does not comply, he and his associates will not let the Supreme Court’s decision go in favour of Mukhtar.

The Minister’s message may be interpreted as an indirect threat to the life of Mukhtar Mai and Mukhtar Mai’s friends and family fear that anything could happen and anyone can be used against Mukhtar, including extremists, outlaws, or the intelligence agencies. Due to the Minister’s comments, it may be inferred that the Mastoi have political influence of sufficient weight to bring pressure to bear on the supreme court via establishment and political figures.