South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, vehemently condemns the arrest of human rights lawyer Imaan Mazari and former lawmaker Ali Wazir in the early hours of Sunday 20 August 2023 without a warrant, by the Islamabad Capital police. The police stated on X, the social media platform, that they were arrested as “both suspects were wanted for (an) investigation”. It also claimed that all action will be taken in accordance with the law. It has been reported that Mazari’s mobile phone and the computer had been taken by the police.
SAHR learns that the immediate reason for the arrest of these two activists are giving speeches condemning the harassment against Pakhtuns, demanding the return of the missing persons and naming army personnel as perpetrators at a rally of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Friday 18 August 2023. Two First Information Reports (FIR) were filed against the two activists under various sections of the Pakistan’s Penal Code for rioting armed with deadly weapons, criminal intimidation and unlawful assembly as well as sections 7 and 11 of the Anti-terrorism Act.
On Sunday morning it was reported that Mazari and Wazir were remanded for a day and two days respectively. A district and sessions court in Islamabad on Tuesday 22 August 2023 granted Imaan Mazari bail. Ali Wazir was sentenced to 14 day judicial remand at Adiala Jail in a case for “interference in state affairs” and damaging public property.
SAHR joins civil society in Pakistan in emphasizing that these arrests delineate systematic and insidious trend of state sanctioned violence against people exerting their right to freedom of expression and assembly. It calls upon the authorities of the Government of Pakistan to immediately release Ali Wazir and Iman Mazari and withdraw the fabricated charges against them. SAHR strongly urges the government against the suppression of dissent and intimidation of human rights activists which leads to attrition of constitutional rights and freedoms of the people, democratic values and the political stability of the country.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights.
Dr. Roshmi Goswami