Call for protection of HR activists in FATA
ISLAMABAD: In light of the brutal murder of human right activist Farida Afridi, human rights activists and members of civil society joined hands for a candlelit vigil in her memory and vowed to carry her mission forward despite the risks. They called the murder of Afridi, who was working in FATA to improve the living conditions of women in the area, a brutal attempt by the perpetrators to strike fear in the hearts of all human rights activists, particularly women in that area and the rest of Pakistan.
The gathering of about 80 participants in Sector F-6 was organised by the Movement for Social Justice and saw representation from organisations and political parties including Poda, SPO, Pattan, Mehrgarh, Fafen, Awami Party Pakistan, PML-Q, and the PPP.
Nasreen Azhar of the Women Action Forum commented that individuals such as Afridi are needed the most in areas like FATA to help bring security and progress, but their security is in danger. She called for consistent protest over the assassination so that the militants responsible for her death know that they cannot get off scot-free.
One of the organisers, Farzana Bari, commented, “As FATA is not bound by Pakistani laws, it is easier for militants to operate there and obliterate those they don’t agree with”. She added that this instance highlights the dire need of more protection for activists in the area.
PPP MNA Rubina Qaim Khani shared that parliament is very upset with the instance and is despite having passed a few pro-women bills this year, they are hoping to pass more.
The killing of two professors from Sindh University, Prof Amar Sindhu and Dr Arfana Mallah, for protesting was also addressed, as well as the proliferation of arms given to members of parliament as a privilege, and the draconian Frontier Crimes Regulation that governs FATA.