Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Struggle for rights goes on

By Khalid Khattak12/5/07

A large number of students, lawyers and civil society representatives took out a protest rally by making human chain against the suspension of the constitution and human rights as well as curbs on media, demanded restoration of all deposed judges.They urged all political parties to boycott the coming elections maintaining that elections without free judiciary and free media would have no transparency and fairness. Students Action Committee (SAC), a group of students representing 21 universities and colleges of the City, had given the protest call in which around 1,000 students, lawyers and civil society participated and expressed their resentment against the present regime, suspension of judges, suspension of human rights and media curbs. Apart from different universities and colleges from the City a large number of students from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) had especially joined the rally, by quietly leaving their campus, while a heavy contingent of police was deployed outside LUMS on Tuesday to stop students from leaving the campus.Carrying colourful placards, wearing black armbands and stickers pasted on their shirts inscribed with anti-emergency, pro-judiciary and pro-media slogans, the rally participants gathered at Lahore Press Club around 3 pm and chanted slogans against President Musharraf for suspending the Constitution.The emotionally charged students chanted slogans like “Hum lay kay rahain gay azadi; hai haq hamara azadi”, “No elections without free judiciary and free media”, “Lathi goli ki sarkar nahi chalay gee; nahi chalay gee” and “Gerti hoi dewar ko aik dhka aur do”, etc. One of the stickers read “Pehlay adliya azad; elections us kay baad” (First restore judiciary then hold elections).Later they made a human chain and took out a rally taking a complete round of the Lahore Press Club. A number of young students from Aitchison and Covent of Jesus and Mary, accompanied by their mothers, also participated in the rally. The protestors also distributed different flyers and pamphlets among people during the rally urging them to stand united against suspension of the constitution.The participants of the rally also held a protest sit-in in front of mosque situated at Shimla Pahari and then moved towards Geo Solidarity Camp. However they were barred by the police doing so upon which they returned to the Lahore Press Club and held a protest sit-in. Some participants of the rally also made speeches on the occasion. A student speaker said, “Students would continue their movement till the restoration of deposed judges,” adding “Transparent, fair and free elections could not be held without a free judiciary. He said, “Students appeal to all the political parties to boycott the election till complete restoration of judiciary and media in the country.Addressing the protestors, a speaker, Hina said peaceful protest by students, lawyers and civil society representatives was for the restoration and freedom of judiciary in the country. “We demand restoration of judiciary including restoration of the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan”, she added. On this occasion a large number of students chanted slogans in favour of deposed CJP saying “Chief teray jaan nisaar baishumaar; baishumaar.îShe also demanded that all arrested lawyers should be released immediately. She further said students’ response to the present situation and their struggle had proved that they were the real future of the country. Bushra Aitzaz, wife of Aitzaz Ahsan, President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), addressing the participants of the protest, said the present movement would have to be continued till complete restoration of the constitution. She, while paying tributes to the students for their struggle, said no movement could be successful without participation of students.A member of the SAC while speaking on the occasion said, “We would carry our movement to all the colleges and universities of the country as it was a national cause.î The protest ended with collective recitation of national anthem.Ms Medea Benjmin and Mr Tighe Barry, members of the US human rights group Global Exchange and women’s peace group CODEPINK, also participated in the rally and expressed their solidarity with the protestors.The protesters then dispersed and many of them left for GOR-I. At the judgeís residence, students joined lawyers, journalists and other activists outside Justice (deposed) Shahid Siddiquiís house and chanted slogans. He also came out to speak to the protesters and lauded the efforts of the lawyers, students and civil society activists. The protest went ahead despite threats from the police to arrest students from the universities involved.

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