People around the world took to the streets on Thursday to call for the restoration of human rights and justice in Pakistan.
Amnesty International joined forces with representatives of the legal profession and media industry to protest in support of lawyers, journalists and activists who have been detained in large numbers in the 'state of emergency' declared by General Musharraf.
As part of the global Day of Action supported by the International Federation of Journalists, demonstrations were held in Australia, Canada, India, Nepal, Norway, Paraguay, Switzerland, Turkey, the US and UK.
In London, a sizeable crowd gathered under a huge banner, holding candles and chanting messages to the Pakistan government. Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, with Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists and Mark Muller QC, Chair of the England and Wales Bar Council's Human Rights Committee, presented a petition to Pakistan's High Commission in London.
The petition, addressed to General Pervez Musharraf, demanded:
full respect for freedom of expression in Pakistan
the release of all those arbitrarily detained under the state of emergency
reinstatement of the independent judiciary
justice for the victims of enforced disappearance
no introduction of military tribunals for civilians
Irene Khan said: "General Musharraf must put an end immediately to his outrageous assault on Pakistan's vibrant human rights community, institutions of justice and independent media. In the name of the "war on terror" he is destroying the very guarantors of the stability that he claims to be defending."
Jeremy Dear added: “Sales of satellite dishes and radios in Pakistan have skyrocketed in recent days, showing just how highly people value independent news. A free media is vital in maintaining public confidence in democracy and journalists must be able to work free from threats and harassment.”
Elsewhere, activists braved the snow in Berne to protest in front of the Pakistan embassy. In Kathmandu, hundreds marched through the city carrying plea cards and banners. In New Delhi, several journalist groups joined Amnesty International in a rally through the busy streets of the capital city.
Amnesty International is calling for all states to immediately suspend all forms of security cooperation, including military assistance, until Pakistan lifts the emergency measures which violate international human rights law.