Human Rights activist Dr Farzana Bari has requested that the Supreme Court reopen the Kohistan cell phone video case, which she says has taken a new turn. Bari claims to have evidence that the four women who appeared in video may have already been murdered.
A year-and-a-half ago, the Kohistan cell phone video story caught the attention of the media. The video showed men and women dancing together at a wedding. As a result, some of the men and women in the video were allegedly killed. The Supreme Court formed a committee to probe the issue. Although the committee was not allowed to meet all the women, they were given ‘assurances’ by tribal leaders that the women were alive and well, after which the probe was ended.
Bari, who was one of the three members of the committee, had added a dissenting note and had expressed reservations over the findings of the inquiry commission. However, while closing the case, then-Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry stated in his closing order that if and when Bari can produce additional evidence, the case may be taken up again.
“We did not stop following the case after that,” Bari told The Express Tribune. She said she filed her dissenting note as one of the members of the committee because she was not sure whether the women the committee saw were the same ones in the video.
She said that after thorough investigation and having read an article published by Reuters provides evidence that the women presented in court and the women in the video only bore a resemblance. “There was no identity verification of the women presented, nor was there any DNA test taken that proves that the women in the video were the same that were presented before the court,” she said.
Bari said that after reading about the murder of the two men in the same video and compiling documents and reports which they shared with the media regarding the case, she is sure that the women had been killed. Bari had also filed a petition for the reopening of the case last year, which was rejected by the apex court.
“I request the Supreme Court to reopen the case and ensure the women are presented before the court. If not, then those girls are not alive and their murderer needs to be taken to task,” she said aggressively.
Bari said that she also appeals to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister to take notice of this and take action. Furthermore, she said that March 8 should be dedicated to the Kohistani women to show solidarity and a step to eliminate impunity.
Journalist Haseeb Khawaja, who has been following the story, claims that all girls in the video had been killed and the girls brought before the commission were not the same. He further said that the girls brought before the commission were neither identified through Nadra, nor through any DNA test.
The press conference was attended by members of civil society and the movement was supported by Movement for social Justice, Alliance on Violence Against women, Insani Haqooq Itihad, Pattan Development Organisation, Women Action Forum, Women Councilors Network and NobeAid.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2014.
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