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Drop terrorism charges against Gulalai Ismail

Drop terrorism charges against Gulalai Ismail

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This petition has been created by World Youth Movement for D. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
World Youth Movement for D.
started this petition to
The Government of Pakistan
Renowned human rights defender Gulalai Ismail is repeatedly targeted by the Pakistani government for her activism and for insisting on the rule of law and adherence to democratic principles. After the horrendous rape and murder of 10 year old Farishta, many took to the streets in protest due to Islamabad police's lack of response in resolving this crime and bringing justice to the victim's family. At one of the protests, Gulalai gave a speech criticizing lack of police interest in this case while calling for accountability of law enforcement agencies, and addressed the protesters in a unified message – the state needs to make progress with the case and demonstrate its will to protect its citizens and deliver justice to victims.

Criminal cases have been registered against Gulalai Ismail in the form of First Information Reports or FIRs. The charges mentioned in the FIRs accuse her of incitement of hate and violence against state institutions and delivering seditious speech. An FIR raised against Gulalai Ismail on 22 May 2019 by the state. 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. It may be mentioned here that sections 124-A and 153A of the penal code, two colonial era provisions, have recently been repeatedly invoked by the Pakistani state to curb rights activists’ work and political dissent. It is not just the provisions of the penal code, the Pakistani state has in recent years, time and again, used the much criticized and repressive law called the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) against human rights defenders and political opposition.  

Because she called for justice and accountability of security forces, Gulalai now faces serious charges of terrorism which means that she may have to stay behind bars for long period of time without the possibility of release on bail. The police has raided her family home in Islamabad twice on two consecutive days, using a scanner to examine the entire house, confiscated her sister's phone, and a framed picture of Gulalai. 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 target of the state harassment for the past one year or so during which time she has been made to undergo humiliation of being prohibited from travelling abroad as well as registration of criminal cases. The current criminal charges can only be seen as a continuation of the same campaign of victimization of human rights defenders. 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.

Please help us send out a message to Pakistan's government: withdraw the criminal cases against Gulalai Ismail; and quit the campaign of harassment against Gulalai and her family.

Sign this petition and share the message - free Gulalai Ismail of all charges and ensure her safety!