SAHR Statement condemning the killing of civilians in Karachi – 14 May 2015

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a democratic regional network of human rights defenders, strongly condemns the attack on members of the Ismaili sect, killing 47 and injuring a dozen more, by gunmen in Karachi, Pakistan.

On 13 May, six armed men on three motorbikes had opened fire on a bus carrying a group of Ismailis, and then climbed on board the bus when it came to a halt, to continue shooting at the passengers. Ismailis are followers of a branch of Shia Islam led by the Aga Khan. They are considered a minority religious group or even heretics by Sunni armed groups in Pakistan who have committed various acts of terror.

SAHR is shocked at this latest act of senseless violence which has rocked the city of Karachi and is concerned that there is no end to sectarian and religious based violence. Immediately after such attacks the Pakistani authorities routinely condemn and assure speedy conduct of investigations but despite such proclaimed actions sectarian attacks continue with increasing frequency.

SAHR is alarmed by the growing influence of groups affiliated to ISIS in Pakistan. There is also a visible and concerning lack of tolerance for freedom of expression in the country especially in relation to socio-political and religious issues as highlighted by the killing of Pakistani activist Sabeen Mahmud in April 2015 after hosting a seminar on disappearances in Balochistan.

While urging the government of Pakistan to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice, SAHR appeals to the government to urgently address the growing issues of religious and social intolerance in the country which is causing terror and chaos amongst civilians with sporadic attacks carried out on religious and ethnic groups and institutions by multiple groups of armed insurgents. Such acts of violence continue in spite of the introduction of several anti-terrorism legislation that were meant to act as deterrence and add to the already turbulent and troubled political environment in Pakistan which has continued to oppress and violate the rights of its citizens.

SAHR further urges the government of Pakistan to ensure that the rule of law is effectively implemented in order to ensure that Pakistani citizens have equal access to fundamental and human rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws of Pakistan and perpetrators of sectarian and religious violence be brought to justice swiftly under this framework.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights

Hina Jilani                                                                  Dr. Nimalka Fernando
Chairperson                                                                Co-Chairperson

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