Tuesday, December 18, 2007

SAC resists police, stages rally

By By Our Correspondent

Source: The News

STUDENTS Action Committee (SAC) staged a protest demonstration for restoration of the judiciary and freedom of media and held a march on The Mall in this regard on Monday.The police tried to stop the rally near the Lahore Museum, but the protesting students resisted the move and continued their march towards Anarkali Chowk despite routine traffic. More than one hundred students, especially girls, lawyers and civil society representatives participated in the rally. They expressed their resentment over the recent developments, including lifting of the emergency. They said, “Nothing has changed.” Some members of the Campaign for Democracy and Rule of Law in Pakistan (CDRLP) and the Teachers Action Committee (TAC) also participated in the rally. Some participants of the rally wore masks depicting photos of missing persons, highlighting the efforts of the deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) for their recovery.The students carried placards inscribed with various slogans demanding restoration of judiciary, freedom of media, “Azadi”, and anti-government catchphrases. The protest demonstration was scheduled to be held inside Nasir Bagh. However, its participants took out a rally from Nasir Bagh to Anarkali Chowk. They distributed flyers among people during the rally and urged them to forward the message of protest against the present regime to others. A participant of the rally, Ali, told The News, “Our protest is against the farce of politics that started in Pakistan after the so-called pro-democracy act of lifting the emergency.”Another participant said, “Amendment to the Constitution the night before lifting of the emergency shows the weakening of the government.” “Nevertheless, nothing has changed,” he observed. A female student said, “Students will continue their struggle for the restoration of the judiciary, which is necessary for a free and enlightened nation.” After protesting at Anarkali for around 10 minutes, the students marched back towards Nasir Bagh. They gathered at the roundabout near National College of Arts (NCA) and chanted slogans for almost 20 minutes. They also formed a human chain at the roundabout and demanded restoration of the judiciary to its pre-November 3 position and an independent media. Some students also pasted stickers “Pehlay Adliya Azad, Elections Us Kay Baad” (First free judiciary and then hold elections) on PML-Q banners at a pole at the roundabout. A student presented a parody of a famous national song with other participants. They dispersed after singing the national anthem.

Protesters baton-charged

Source: The Nation

A number of students, lawyers, civil society activists and political parties’ workers were injured in clashes with security officials here on Monday. The clashes took place when peaceful protesters attempted to march towards the Judges Colony to meet the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. In a bid to stop the protesters, police baton-charged the protesters and used tear-gas shells to disperse them. Many people were injured and 30, including women, were arrested.PTI chief Imran Khan who was leading the protest rally was subjected to torture by the police. Police also baton-charged the protest rally.Playing hide-and-seek game with the security officials after violent clashes, hundreds of students, lawyers, political workers and journalists managed to reach in front of Judges Colony. The high-handedness of police could not stop them. The highly-charged students of Student Action Committee (SAC) gathered at Abpara Chowk and began chanting slogans “PCO Judges Na Manzoor (judges who took oath under PCO not accepted),” “Ye Election Nahi Selection Hay Boycott Karo (the upcoming elections are selections, boycott them).” Soon after lawyers, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) workers, including their chief Imran Khan, katchi abadi dwellers and representatives of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party joined them. The protesters shouted anti-Musharraf slogans and demanded of the political parties to boycott the January 8 elections. They carried placards reading “Stop Lying, Free Judges, Free Lawyers”. PTI Chief Imran Khan, along with the protesters, marched towards the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Press Club Camp Office and he appreciated the students’ struggle for the restoration of pre-November 3 Judiciary and real democracy in the country. He vowed to stand by the journalists and lauded their struggle for free media. When the protesters began to march towards the Judges Colony, police made a bid to stop them from going there and eventually violent clashes took place between the police officials and the protesters. The protesters were badly baton-charged. Many people, including eight police personnel, one student, one journalist namely Usman from Aaj TV and ASP Nasir Aftab, were injured in the incident. They were shifted to Polyclinic Hospital for initial treatment.At least 30 of the protesters, including women, were arrested and shifted to Secretariat Police Station and Women Police Station. However, playing hide-and-seek with the security officials after violent clashes, hundreds of students, lawyers, political workers and journalists managed successfully to reach in front of the Judges Colony where the police arrested them. Alia Amirali, Convener of the SAC said that the naked use of force had exposed all the claims of the government that the emergency had been lifted and Constitution restored. She said, “The state repression proves how weak the state actually is and it has failed to face the morally upright struggle of the people. The government claims now stand exposed that the deposed judges are free. They are still imprisoned inside the Judges Colony and unable to move freely”.Ghaza Minallah, Hajrah Ahmed and Farzana Bari, Jamil Abbasi of the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad and a number of SAC activists and lawyers were arrested. Meanwhile, Deposed Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday strongly condemned the brutal torture of Media, Students and Civil Society by the police outside the Judges Enclave. Atharminallah, eminent lawyer an e-mail of the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who vowed to continue his struggle for the supremacy of law and the Constitution. In the email, the deposed Chief Justice, expressing his solidarity with all the segments of the society, promised, “ We will fight till last breath for the supremacy of ‘un-tampered’ Constitution of 1973 and rule of law”. In his message to the Lawyers community, civil society, media and 160 million people in every corner of the country said that these atrocities by police agencies and Govt can never demoralize the judges who refused to take oath under provisional constitutional order on November 3.Terming the Monday’s police brutality “Barbaric act” on innocent people outside the Judges Enclave the deposed Chief Justice in his mail said that it was a vicious act committed by the police and other agencies by torturing peaceful demonstrators. “Peaceful protest is right of every citizen of Pakistan as freedom of expression is enshrined under 1973 constitution” the deposed Chief Justice wrote in his mail.“Look at the state of condition within a week, blasts in Quetta, Nowshera and Kohat, but the police and agencies are deputed to arrest women, torture students, lawyers and media men protesting for the rule of law,” he wrote. Strongly condemning act of torture on civil society, the deposed Chief Justice wrote that the Police and other Agencies are only focussing on arresting Chief Justice of Pakistan, judges and lawyers, where as wanted men can escape from their custody as only two or three policemen are there to guard them.“It is highly deplorable and barbaric act of Government, which exposes its weakness and nervousness” he maintained, adding “Is Martial law or so called emergency lifted or it appears mere rhetoric”