Renowned human rights defender and founder of Aware Girls Gulalai Ismail
has been repeatedly targeted by the Pakistani government for her activism and defense of both the rule of law and basic democratic principles. On May 22, 2019, criminal charges were brought against Gulalai in the form of First Information Reports or FIRs. The charges were filed following a non-violent protest in which Gulalai gave a speech calling for accountability of law enforcement agencies following the brutal rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl, Farishta Mohmand. It is widely accepted that the police were negligent in their investigation of the case.
The charges accuse her of incitement of hate and violence against state institutions and delivering a seditious speech. The FIR mentions sections 124-A (sedition), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups, etc.) 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Pakistan Penal Code, as well as sections 6 and 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997. Two colonial era provisions, sections 124-A and 153A of the penal code, have recently been repeatedly invoked by the Pakistani state to curb human rights activists’ work and political dissent. The Pakistani state has also in recent years used a much criticized and repressive law called the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) against human rights defenders and political opposition. Gulalai, in a non-violent fashion, called for basic justice and the accountability of Pakistani security forces and now faces unfounded charges of terrorism. If arrested, she may be imprisoned for an indefinite period without the possibility of release on bail. The police continue to harass her family and have raided her family home in Islamabad twice on two consecutive days. Furthermore, they have aggressively interrogated other family members and friends. The family was warned to not share information about the raid, telling them they would face severe consequences if they defied this warning
Gulalai has been a target of state harassment for several years. She has been prohibited from traveling abroad and her reputation has been wrongfully blemished by a record of baseless criminal charges for her activism. The most recent criminal charges brought against her can only be seen as a continuation of the same campaign of persecution of human rights defenders.
Please sign this petition and share the message.
- We condemn the Pakistani authorities for their blatant misuse of the law and for targeting Gulalai in her attempts to call on the state to protect its citizens.
- We need your help to send a message to Pakistan's government.
- We call for the withdrawal of all criminal charges against Gulalai Ismail.
- We call for an immediate stop of the systematic campaign of harassment against Gulalai and her family.
- We call for assurance of her safety.