Published: Daily Times – May 31, 2010
LAHORE: Various human rights activists, belonging to several non-governmental organizations, on Sunday launched a protest demonstration against Friday’s terror attacks on the worship places of Ahmedis.
Blaming the ‘negligence’ of the government and law enforcement agencies for the lives lost in the attacks, the protesters alleged that the worship places were not provided adequate security, even though even though members of the Ahmedi community had “long been in the crosshairs of extremists and terrorists”.
The protest was organised by the Institute for Peace and Secular Studies (IPPS) in front of Lahore Press Club to condemn the twin attacks at Model Town and Garhi Shahu in which 95 people were killed. Prominent human rights activists belonging to the Awami Jamhori Forum (AJF), South Asia Partnership (SAP), Women Workers Help Line (WWHL) and Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) and other organisations participated in the protest.
The protesters were carrying several placards that said ‘Constitutional religious discrimination not acceptable’ and ‘Government should provide protection and justice to the oppressed Ahmedi community’.
Condemned: The protesters condemned the inefficiency of the provincial government, alleging that the authorities “did not take proper security measures after learning of possible terror attacks in Model Town”.
Addressing the gathering, IPPS chief Saeda Deep said that her organisation had pleaded with the media to bring to light the persecution of the Ahmedi community in Pakistan. “Ahmedis have been kidnapped, kicked out of medical colleges and at times killed in the name of religion… this simply cannot stand,” she said, adding that providing justice to minorities should be one of the highest priorities of the Supreme Court. During the protest, activists urged the media to monitor its own activities and “to not allow hate speech on TV”. They also called on the government to censor literature that promoted hatred against Ahmedis, minorities and all other sects in a similar manner to blocking Facebook due to the blasphemous caricatures issue.
“Until the government stops discriminating along religious lines, they will remain responsible for all attacks on minorities in the country,” the protesters said.
Operation: Separately, the All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance held a special meeting headed by Tahir Naved Chaudhry and attended by Pervez Rafiq, Mrs Najmi Salimi, George Paul, Akmal Bhatti, Shamoon Rohail Gill and Naved Amir Jiva. The meeting condemned Friday’s terror attacks and demanded that the Punjab government take serious notice of the Taliban’s activities in the province, adding that the authorities should launch an operation against terrorist hideouts in Punjab. They also urged the government to provide better security to minorities.