WASHINGTON: A renowned rights defender writes to Prime Minister of Pakistan urging him to provide security to Sardar Mushtaq Gill who has been sporadically attacked by militants in recent past.
Mr. William Gomez- Human Right Ambassador of Salem News Ministry has aired solemn concerns over ever increasing attempts to kill Mushtaq Gill, a Rights defender who has been instrumental for providing legal aid to the sidelined Christians in Pakistan.
Mr. Gomez’s letter read as below:
Mr. Mian Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister House
I am William Nicholas Gomes,Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
On 2 November 2013, gunshots were fired in the street outside the home of human rights defender Mr Sardar Mushtaq Gill in Pattoki Tehsil, Kasur District, PunjabProvince. In recent months, Sardar Mustaq Gill has been intimidated by various means, including violent threats.
Sardar Mustaq Gill is the National Director of Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD) which is based in the province of Punjab. LEAD is a non-government organisation that provides legal aid to marginalised people and defends the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan. Sardar Mustaq Gill has been campaigning against the use of blasphemy laws to target minorities.
On 2 November 2013, at around 6.35pm, gunshots were heard on the street outside the home of Sardar Mustaq Gill. The human rights defender, who was not at home, was instructed via SMS by his wife to stay away and remained out of the area for fear of his safety. It is reported that Sardar Mustaq Gill’s brother found bullet shells on the street afterwards. On 3 November, the human rights defender informed his brother to make a complaint at a local police station. Sardar Mustaq Gill is currently living in a secure location due to fear for his safety.
In June 2013, Sardar Mushtaq Gill was held at gunpoint by three armed men who threatened him with dire consequences, reportedly in relation to his human rights advocacy, particularly his work defending Christian women who were paraded naked in Kasur district. Subsequently, in July 2013, around six members of extremist group, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jammat, came looking for Sardar Mustaq Gill at his home.
Lawyers affiliated with LEAD have previously been harassed and threatened as a result of their human rights work. On 4 June 2013, LEAD’s lawyers petitioned the Lahore High Court to cancel the bail against individuals who had attacked Christian communities in Joseph Colony in March 2013. The lawyers feared that new attacks against the communities might occur if the suspects were to be released. They were reportedly threatened by unknown individuals to withdraw the petition and were consequently unable to appear in court for fear of attacks.
I believe that the gunshots in front of Sardar Mushtaq Gill’s house are directly related to his work in the defence of human rights, in particular his role in supporting victims who have been accused of blasphemy and maltreated due to their faiths.
I urge the authorities in Pakistan to:
1. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the recent shootings outside Sardar Mustaq Gill’s home, as well as the previous attacks and intimidation directed at him, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
2. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological security and integrity of Sardar Mustaq Gill, members of his family, and other LEAD members;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Pakistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including physical threats and intimidation.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com