Pakistan urged to stop using ‘abusive methods’ against Imran Khan’s supporters

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Pakistani authorities to refrain from using “abusive methods” against supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan as protests escalate in Pakistan. .

HRW said on Tuesday that police had charged the protesters with batons and detained them under “drastic anti-terrorism laws.” He has nearly 200 arrests for arson, vandalism and attacks on police.

“Pakistan’s use of vague and overly broad anti-terrorism provisions against opposition protesters is deeply worrying,” said Patricia Gosman, Associate Asia Director at HRW. statement.

“If authorities believe that the actions of Khan or his supporters caused violence or constituted a genuine threat to public safety, they should be prosecuted under the appropriate laws,” Gossman added. rice field.

HRW said “dozens” of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) members, including Khan, accused authorities of “terrorism, intimidation, rioting and violence” after they clashed outside a court in Islamabad on March 18. He was charged with “assault,” he said.

“It is very important for police to respect the right to peaceful assembly while holding those responsible for unlawful violence accountable,” said Gossman.

Khan’s supporters have clashed with police in recent days as authorities try to force the PTI leader to appear in court on corruption charges. , police said they used tear gas and rubber bullets against the protesters.

Convocation of the Diet

Pakistan’s parliament was called on Wednesday to “make an important decision” on enforcing the state warrant, according to the state-run Pakistan News Agency (APP), but it was unclear why the meeting was held.

APP reported on a meeting attended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his Cabinet, where participants said Khan’s PTI was not a political party but a “militant gang” whose “hostility to the state” was unacceptable. quoted.

Khan denounced the authorities’ actions against his supporters as domestic “fascism” and called for the immediate release of all allegedly kidnapped PTI workers and their children.

“Unprecedented levels of fascism as police in Islamabad conduct warrantless raids and kidnap PTI workers. [years old] Will be picked up,” he wrote on Twitter.

Khan also reportedly asked the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court to allow him to effectively participate in the trial because his life is in danger.

Pakistani politics
Security personnel board a vehicle carrying former Prime Minister Imran Khan as it moves toward Islamabad on a road in Lahore, Pakistan, March 18, 2023. (KM Chaudary/AP Photo)

“The Islamabad Judiciary Complex was full of police and rangers. But there were some unidentified men stationed there. He said it was a trap,” he said in a video speech.

Police attempted to arrest Khan at his residence on March 14 for failing to appear in court, leading to hours of clashes between police and Khan’s supporters. Khan claimed his attempted arrest was illegal because he had secured his protective bail from the court.

Since losing his job last year, Khan has called for a snap election at protest rallies he has held across Pakistan. The request was denied by his successor Sharif, who said the vote would take place later this year as planned.

At one of those rallies, Khan was wounded in a gun attack on November 3, 2022. He claimed it was an “assassination attempt” by his rival. One of his supporters also died at the rally.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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