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“Stop faith-based killings” – UN rights experts urge Pakistan to protect Ahmadiyya Muslim minorities

GENEVA (2 June 2014) – Three United Nations experts on freedom of religion, minority issues, and summary executions today call on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures to stop faith-based killings and ensure the security of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, whose faith is outlawed in the country.

The human rights experts’ call comes after renewed violent attacks against Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, in which two members of the community have been killed, as well as a number of arrests on blasphemy charges. These attacks are believed to be related to their choice and peaceful practice of religious beliefs.

“I am very concerned by the recent surge of violent attacks against Ahmadiyya Muslims by militant extremists. Such violence is fueled by existing blasphemy legislation in Pakistan particularly targeting minorities,” the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said. “I urge Pakistan to guarantee the right to freedom of religion or belief of members of minority religious communities.” 

“Pakistan must urgently put in place protective measures to ensure the personal security of Ahmadiyya Muslims, as well as any other religious minorities living in the country, under threat of hostility and violence by militant extremists,” the Special Rapporteur on minority issues, Rita Izsák, stressed. “The full range of rights of religious minorities must be guaranteed in law and in practice.”

“In addition to robust protective measures, the authorities in Pakistan need to undertake urgent and firm steps to bring to justice the perpetrators of those killings,” stressed the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns. “Showing determination in ensuring accountability in such cases must be a key element of the Government’s efforts to reduce the attacks and guarantee the safety of not only the Ahmadiyya Muslims, but other vulnerable groups.”

On 13 May 2014, four Ahmadiyya Muslims were arrested by police on blasphemy charges in Sharaqpur, Pakistan. While three were released on bail, Khalil Ahmad was kept in detention, where he was shot dead by a visiting fifteen year-old teenager, who brought a gun, concealed in his lunch box, into the station.

On 26 May 2014, Mehdi Ali Qamar, a US citizen and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, a doctor on a humanitarian mission to Pakistan, was murdered in Rabwah, Pakistan. He was killed by two unknown men on motorbikes, while taking an opportunity to visit the graves of his relatives at a local cemetery.

Seven members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community were reportedly killed in 2013.

The United Nations human rights experts are part of what it is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

They are charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on human rights issues. Currently, there are 37 thematic mandates and 14 mandates related to countries and territories, with 72 mandate holders. Three new mandates were added in March 2014. The experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

Learn more, visit:
Freedom of religion: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/FreedomReligionIndex.aspx
Minority issues: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Minorities/IExpert/Pages/IEminorityissuesIndex.aspx
Summary Executions: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Pakistan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/PKIndex.aspx  

For more information and media requests please contact Sharof Azizov (+41 22 917 9748 / sazizov@ohchr.org) or write to freedomofreligion@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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