"The way to fight this is for people to stand up and for the Pakistani government and for the people within the intelligence wings to stand up and to recognize that what they are doing is just simply and totally wrong." - Moazzam Begg was abducted in January 2002 from his home in Islamabad by Pakistani and US agents.
The road to Guantánamo starts in Pakistan.
More than 85 percent of detainees unlawfully held at the US detention centre in Cuba were arrested by the Afghan Northern Alliance and in Pakistan at a time when rewards of up to US$5,000 were paid for every unidentified terror suspect handed over to the USA.
Bounty hunters – including police officers and local people – took advantage of this routine practice that facilitated illegal detention and enforced disappearance, almost unheard in Pakistan before the US-led "war on terror". The Pakistani courts have failed to offer protection.
Hundreds of Pakistani and foreign nationals have been picked up in mass arrests in Pakistan since 2001, many have been “sold” to the USA as ‘terrorists’ simply on the word of their captor, and hundreds have been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, Bagram Airbase or secret detention centres run by the USA.
Some 300 people have since been released from Guantánamo Bay without charge. Many detainees remain unaccounted for, their fate and whereabouts unknown. They are at risk of torture and "rendition".
Victims include terror suspects - men, women and children -, journalists who have reported on the "war on terror" and medical personnel who allegedly treated terror suspects.
Family members, lawyers and other activists are gathering in Islamabad, Pakistan (29 to 30 September) to exchange information and encourage action against Pakistan’s abuses in the "war on terror".
The Government of Pakistan is directly responsible for the fate of many Guantánamo detainees and the “disappearance” of many others, and the suffering of their loved ones.
The Pakistani government must set up a central register of detainees and publish regular lists of all recognised places of detention so that in future nobody can be secretly imprisoned and face the risk of torture and other ill-treatment.
The meeting, hosted by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Amnesty International, will be a first step for Pakistani politicians, media and civil society to stand up and hold the government to account for the abuses committed.