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A Call To Arms!
Submitted by admin on 9 March, 2004 - 08:27
Copy of our bulletin sent 1 September 2001 via the IHNews list server
A Call To Arms!
Things are moving fast in the campaign for the liberation of Dr. Shaikh, sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy, after a defective, and partly in-camera trial where the judge was constantly intimidated by a mob of violent fundamentalist clergy.
Two appeals have been filed on Dr. Shaikhs behalf, one by the family and another by Human Rights activists. Now an inmate of the terrible death cell, Dr. Shaikh is not even allowed to carry a pen with him, and those who do not belong to his immediate family cannot visit him anymore, officially. Thankfully, Abid Hasan Manto, Pakistans well-known and respected civil libertarian lawyer will argue Dr. Shaikhs case without charging any fees. It is my duty to defend Dr. Shaikh, he said.
A team of dedicated Human Rights activists are working hard to provide support for Dr. Shaikh in Pakistan, risking themselves in the process. The influential Friday Times of Islamabad has carried an extensive report on the case. On the IHEUs website you will find statements from liberal Pakistani Muslims protesting the sentence. The campaign in Pakistan too has started. Our colleagues in Pakistan need help and support, and this can only be done by intensifying our efforts internationally. There are hundreds who are victims of these laws and we need to help.
Have you written to your senator? Did you contact your Prime Minister? Will you remind them of the urgency of the matter? If your organisation has Honorary Associates or a well known President, will you ask them to issue a statement asking for the liberation of Dr. Shaikh and the repeal of Blasphemy laws in Pakistan (which victimise all religious minorities, specially Christians and Ahmadiyas), as well as in other countries?
A sample of the press notices, statements and editorial comments from well known personalities can be found on the IHEU website at www.iheu.org/Shaikh Respected and influential newspapers like the New York Times, The Daily Telegraph UK, The Guardian, The Times UK, Norwegian Dagbladet, BBC, CNN, The Age, Melbourne, The Ottawa Citizen, The Times Higher Education, the San Francisco Chronicle, Newspapers in Peru and elsewhere, the mainstream Muslim media, as well as smaller newspapers in various parts of the world have reported on Dr. Shaikhs case and about IHEUs campaign. Human Rights organisations world-wide are rallying together to defend Dr. Shaikh and to protest Pakistans barbaric blasphemy laws. Nobel laureate Sir Harry Kroto and famous personalities like Richard Dawkins, Claire Rayner, Terry Prachet have issued a statement. The Centre for Islam in Europe (Belgium) and the Islamic Human Rights Commission too (UK) have condemned the death sentence. IHEUs President Levi Fragells communication to Kofi Annan, UNs Secretary General has been handed over personally; diplomatic parleys have been initiated by IHEUs representatives with various governments, some details of which are on the IHEU website. A meeting of diplomats from the EU countries has been held in Islamabad. Efforts are on now for a group of diplomats to visit Dr. Shaikh in prison. The French Freethinkers have called on Members of the French legislature to take up the matter seriously. Mr. Pannella, an Italian Member of European Parliament has asked urgent questions of the European Commission as to action being taken by the European Commission.
The campaign has kicked off! But we need to take it further, and we need your help.
Protest demonstrations are being organised all over the world: for reports and photos of events held in Birmingham UK, in Jallandhar, India and Oslo, Norway, please check the website. A big demonstration is being planned in London on 10 September in front of the Pakistan High Commission. For details, send an e mail to IHEU. Please tell others. Bring your friends: specially if they are liberal Muslims (or from the Pakistani community) who are willing to speak. The Today programme is expected to discuss the event on the day. The Humanist Centre in Central London has set up a big display on Dr. Shaikh and the blapshemy conviction: it is expected to attract widepsread attention. More demonstrations are being planned: in Khatmandu and in Washington; in Los Angeles and in Ottawa; in New Delhi and in Paris. Can you help? Will you join us? Do you know who might join? Can you forward this e mail to other Human Rights groups and ask them to join? Please let us know. Always copy your communications to IHEU which is the central coordination point for the international campaign.
If there is no Pakistan High Commission or Consulate in your city, there may be an aid agency which supports the Pakistan government which could be the venue of your peaceful demonstration. It can also be in front of your countrys foreign ministry demanding action from your government to urgently intervene. Or you could organise a press conference expressing your disgust at the judgement and your solidarity with Dr. Shaikh.
Hundreds of letters are pouring in at the IHEU office about Dr. Shaikhs case, but have you signed the on-line Petition at http://www.iheu.org/Shaikh/petition/index.html which will be used to lobby governments and diplomats? Please do so. On the website it is possible to register to receive regular updates via the International Humanist News. Please do sign up to receive this crucial campaign tool.
On the IHEU website a Special Section RESOURCES FOR CAMPAIGNERS with information and special materials for campaign work has been developed. DRAMATIC PICTURES of Dr. Shaikh before his sentence can be found at http://www.iheu.org/Shaikh/pic15724.jpg or http://www.iheu.org/shaikh/Dr%20Sheikh%202.jpg . One of the LETTERS Dr. Shaikh wrote the IHEU Executive Director Babu Gogineni from prison as regards the campaign can be found at http://www.iheu.org/Shaikh/letter.htm . If you are organising a Press meet or sending out press material for your demonstration, a MODEL PRESS RELEASE is available for you to use, making necessary changes to suit your regional requirements and updating with the latest news http://www.iheu.org/Shaikh/resources/modelpress.htm If you are looking for the nearest Pakistan High Commission or Consulate http://www.embassyworld.com/embassy/pakistan1.htm If reproducing information and news from IHEU newsletter or website in your Electronic News Bulletins, websites or magazines, kindly acknowledge source and please do give the IHEU email address.
Dr. Shaikh helped the poor and disadvantaged in his country when he could. Now it is our turn to come to his defence! Please let us not fail him.
Can we do it? Yes, It has happened in the past that people have been allowed to leave their countries following an international outcry and diplomatic intervention.
Let us therefore intensify the campaign, and also help humanise the Blasphemy law in Pakistan!