South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the vigilante attack on the Sri Lankan Migrant worker Priyantha Diyawadana who was subjected to a mob lynching and being burned alive in public over allegations of blasphemy in Sialkot, Pakistan on 3 December 2021.
Diyawadana was working as a general manager in a sportswear manufacturing company and had been living in Pakistan since 2010. He was accused of blasphemy by his two co-workers for allegedly desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad. The mob attacked him inside the factory premises and then burned the body in the presence of hundreds of people who cheered the perpetrators.
SAHR, along with the civil society at regional and global level, has been repetitively calling for an end to the use of blasphemy laws which target the minorities and marginalized people in Pakistan. SAHR is disappointed that successive governments and Pakistani authorities have continued to ignore these longstanding calls to repeal these laws which severely restrict freedom of expression and freedom of religion. This ignorance has resulted in yet another life and has created a society ruled by hate and intolerance.
While SAHR welcomes the actions taken thus far by the Prime Minister and the Government of Pakistan towards arresting the perpetrators, we urge all relevant authorities to conduct a prompt impartial and independent inquiry into the murder of Priyantha Diyawadana and follow due process to attain justice for the victim. SAHR further reiterates its call to the government to immediately repeal the draconian blasphemy laws which paves way to a climate of intolerance and impunity leading to inhumane violations of human rights.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,
Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy
Dr. Roshmi Goswami