90-year-old father’s arrest begins movement for Shia missing persons

More arrests to follow next week as hundreds vow to court their arrest in protest against disappearance of Shia men

Fawad Hasan October 06, 2017
Father of missing person, Samar Abbas, sitting inside the police van after surrendering his arrest.

KARACHI: Activists in Karachi began a movement on Friday for the safe recovery of Shia missing persons with around half-a-dozen people surrendering themselves to the police.

The ‘Fill the Jails Movement’ was announced on the Ashura by activists and families of missing people who said that they will court their arrests if their loved ones did not return home safe and sound by October 6. The decision was made to pressure law enforcement agencies, who have so far failed to produce around 30 Shia mourners allegedly picked up earlier this year by law enforcers in plainclothes a few days after they returned from Karbala, Iraq.

The protesters shouted slogans with women crying as they gathered outside Khoja Shia Isna Ahseri Masjid in Kharadar soon after Friday prayers where a 90-year-old father, who could barely walk, asked the police to arrest him in protest over his son’s disappearance.

Ninety-year-old Alamdar Abbas, father of a missing person, sitting inside the police van after he surrendered his arrest in protest.

Their faces filled with embarrassment over their inability to say anything about the matter, the police personnel gently ushered the elderly man into the police van along with Shia cleric Allama Hasan Zafar Naqvi, Advocate Tassawur Hussain, Razi Rizvi and others.

Karachi's activists to start 'Fill the Jails Movement' in protest over Shia missing persons

“It is very shameful for the authorities and state institutions that an old, ailing father of a missing person is left with no option but to court his arrest today with me,” Naqvi said before he was arrested.

The protesters were joined by the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) Sindh head Asad Butt and other activists who reiterated their support for the Shia community.

Addressing the protesters after the arrests, Maulana Iqbal Ahmed said that the families of the missing persons are asking for their legal and constitutional rights and have no intention to disrupt the law and order situation.

“It is illegal to detain a person for more than 48 hours without notifying the relevant courts, as per the Pakistani law and Constitution. How can legions of our men disappear at the hands of law enforcers?” Ahmed questioned.

“We are a peaceful people but determined enough to fight for justice. I will also offer my arrest next Friday if our men are not safely recovered,” he added.

Shia cleric Allama Hasan Zafar inside the police van after surrendering his arrest on October 6, 2017 as part of the Fill the Jails Movement for missing persons.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Butt said it has become a trend to make people disappear without due fair trial, which is a right of every citizen.

“They have not learnt from their previous mistakes,” said Butt, hinting at the law enforcers who have reportedly detained the missing men. “The families of some 15 persons have come to our office with their pleas to help recover their children. It is hard to look into their teary eyes when they make the appeals,” he added.

Butt said that although closed-circuit television footage has been submitted in the court hearing the petition of the missing persons’ cases as evidence that the disappeared men are with the law enforcers, the families have yet to receive justice. “The footage showed that near Rizvia a number of police vans came to raid the house of Shia men who were taken into custody. Rangers and police personnel, including the area SSP and SHO, could also be seen in the footage,” he said.

During the last hearing, the judge ordered the authorities to arrest the SHO after the footage was shown to the court, Butt said.

After the arrests, the activists, who numbered in the hundreds, dispersed peacefully, vowing that next Friday they will present themselves to the police in protest at Noor-e-Iman Imambargah in Nazimabad.


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