Call to stop the victimization of parents of human rights defender, Gulalai Ismail

Call to stop the victimization of parents of human rights defender, Gulalai Ismail

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IHRC Hong Kong started this petition to Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan and

We, the signatory of this urgent appeal, condemn the continuous persecution of parents of a human rights defender, Ms. Gulalai Ismail. Her parents, earlier on July 3, 2020, were exonerated by an Anti-Terrorism Court from the charges of anti-terrorist activities and sedition charges and court refused to indict them and was granted pre-arrest bail. However, on February 01, the Anti-terrorism court turned down the pre-arrest bail plea of social activist Gulalai Ismail’s father Professor Mohammad Ismail, 65 year old, in a case registered by the counter-terrorism department on the charges of sedition and terror financing and facilitation. It, however, accepted the similar petition of Gulalai’s mother, Uzlifat Ismail, who has also been named in the case. After the bail denial, the Counter Terrorism Department arrested Prof Ismail, who is also a social activist and a member of Pakistan NGOs Forum.

The parents of Gulalai Ismail, are being punished for her human rights activism and persecuted to silence Ms. Ismail. Next day, court has given the custody of Professor Ismail to police for three days to investigate. It is informed to us that Professor is being tortured physical and mentally to accept the charges, framed by state against him.

Since 2019, when Ms. Gulalai left Pakistan and took shelter in USA, her parents are continuously under the persecution, threat and coercion by the state agents. They are continuously followed by militants of Al-Qaida and Taliban. Their accounts are seized by the government which has put them in the worst kind of economic crisis. The elder couple, even, cannot have money to get medical facilities. Professor was also attacked by the COVID 19 during his arrest in 2020 and he is still not recovered from the attacked. It is apprehended that he may again be victim of COVID19 because of his torture in the custody.

During the hearing of pre-arrest bail petition in the Anti-Terrorism Court, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) submitted the complete challan (charge sheet) producing more documents claiming that the accused (her father and mother) had provided weapons and a car to terrorists that were used in attacks on Peshawar’s All Saints Church in 2013 and Hayatabad’s Imamia Masjid in 2015.

The court had indicted two petitioners on multiple charges, including sedition, waging of war against the state, facilitation of attacks on All Saints Church and Imamia Masjid, on Sept 30, 2020. They had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Initially, the CTD had registered an FIR on Jul 6, 2019, under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act wherein it had charged Gulalai Ismail and her parents of being sympathisers of Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, a purely secular and Pushto speaking ethnic movement fighting in the Northern parts of Pakistan against Taliban and Al-Qaida militants who are there along the Afghan border under the alleged patronage of Pakistan Army.

Subsequently, several other provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act were included in the FIR. The complainant, CTD inspector Mohammad Ilyas, alleged that Gulalai Ismail was the chairperson of an organisation, Aware Girls, and under its cover, she had been working for anti-state elements besides financing terrorist organisations.

He added that Gulalai had opened bank accounts in the name of her parents for terror financing.

The counsel for petitioners contended that his clients were implicated in a fake case for ‘victimisation’. He said both petitioners were elderly people and suffered from multiple diseases.

The lawyer said his clients were freed in the case, so the CTD later came up with fake evidence for their further victimization.

Gulalai Ismail had gone into hiding in May 2019 when a case was registered against her in Islamabad for allegedly defaming state institutions and inciting violence through a speech in a demonstration against killing and sexual abuse of a minor girl. She surfaced in the US in Sept 2019.

Therefore, we, appeal to international community to take immediate action to save  lives of Ms. Gulalai’s parents particularly about Professor Ismail who is under police custody for investigation, which means torture as there is no law against torture in Pakistan. We urge upon the government of Pakistan to release him and withdraw cases against the elder couple. Please also provide medical treatment to Professor Ismail who is the patient of COVID19.

We also urge the United Nations Human Rights Council particularly, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defender to take immediate action and provide relief to Professor Ismail.

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