ISLAMABAD: Members of the Alliance for Ending Violence Against Women and Girls have condemned the murder of the Human Rights Defender Farida Afridi, in a statement issued here on Sunday.
They have demanded the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governor and political agents of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) to take responsibility of Farida’s murder and ensure the security of citizens working to alleviate poverty, illiteracy, disease and despair among the communities of Fata, Pata and K-P, who are in the grip of conflicts and humanitarian crises.
They observed that these very human rights workers, both men and women, are vulnerable and under threat as they are the target of extremist elements.
While demanding justice for Farida, they urged to identity and punish her murderers. The uncontrolled abuse of religious authority by clerics in denouncing the work of human rights workers, NGOs and civil society in general, and pronouncing death edicts (fatwas) from the pulpits is an alarming trend and represents the federal and provincial governments’ failure to exercise their writ over a powerful minority while being unable to safeguard the fundamental rights of a vulnerable majority, they added.
The government must establish their writ in these areas, where pockets of religious anarchy are running amok, as also seen recently in Kohistan.
They demanded that the federal and provincial governments learn lessons from the laws and practices of other progressive Muslim countries, where local clerics are not allowed free reign to pronounce fatwas and where it is illegal to give voice to hate speech and incite vigilantes through sermons from mosques.
Moreover, the alliance demanded that the government demonstrate commitment to the safety and security of all its citizens, and in particular its human rights defenders, and take legislative measures to ensure that such fatwas are banned.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.