Press Statements

SAHR expresses great concern over the threat to the life of Dr. Nimalka Fernando

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) expresses great concern over the threat made to Dr. Nimalka Fernando’s life. This threat was made on the radio programme titled “Rata Yana Atha” broadcasted on a Commercial Channel of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation, a State owned media channel.

It is deplorable that a State owned media channel would encourage such threats on their programme. Nimalka has always been a fierce defender of human rights and a strong critic of those who violate them. Her continuous criticism of the Government of Sri Lanka has made her a foe to these actors. Read more »

SAHR Vehemently Condemns the Arbitrary Arrest of Human Rights Activist Adilur Rahman Khan

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) vehemently condemns the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Adilur Rahman Khan, a Senior Lawyer of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a former Deputy Attorney General who currently holds office as Secretary of Odhikar, a Bangladeshi Human Rights Organization.

We are concerned that the Chief Metropolitan Court of Bangladesh initially allowed a five-day remand to interrogate Mr. A. R Khan, which was later stayed by the High Court. As there is evidence of torture linked to police remand in South Asia, we believe that the trial courts of Bangladesh should be very careful in allowing the remand of persons arrested without any specific case, as with regards to Mr. A. R. Khan.

It was reported that about 10 plain-clothes officers from the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police took Mr. A. R Khan into custody on the 10th of August 2013 from outside his residence in Dhaka. The men carried no arrest warrant with them at the time of forcible removal and SAHR is of the opinion that the manner in which Mr. A. R Khan was arrested and detained is wholly unconstitutional and in violation of his fundamental rights.

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SAHR Statement on Attack on Prisoners

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) condemns the attack on Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan prison on 26th April 2013 and on the Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah, serving a life term in the high security Kot Balwal jail on the outskirts of Jammu, by a fellow inmate on 3rd May.

This attack comes as an immediate reaction to the attack and death of an Indian prisoner in a Pakistan jail, Sarabjit Singh, who died on 2nd May 2013 after fighting for his life for a week, on being attacked by fellow inmates.

The need of the hour is to stay calm and sane and to observe restrain. We need to uphold the virtues of decency and justice. SAHR strongly feels that reactionary politics and violence of any form is no solution to any problem.

As Gandhiji said, “an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”. The region’s best tribute to Sarabjit’s memory will be to make sure that no prisoner is ill-treated in any country. Read more »

SAHR Statement on International Women’s Day 2013

8th March 2013

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional network of human rights defenders, joins the messages of solidarity expressed throughout the world to mark International Women’s Day on 8th March 2013.

This year, the UN theme for International Women’s Day is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women”, one that is unfortunately relevant to South Asia.

Global campaigns such as 16 days of activism and One Billion Rising are positive signs of an increasingly proactive approach from men and women, to stop violence against women. However, while SAHR acknowledges that there continues to be a shift in the attitude of many South Asian societies with regards to women’s equality and emancipation, still injustice, discrimination, and violence persist in the most terrible of forms.

Over the past year alone, acts of violence against women have captured the World’s attention; The attempted killing of a 15 year old women’s rights activist in Pakistan; The brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a student in Delhi; The recent ruling in the Maldives where a teenager was sentenced to 100 lashes, despite being the victim of rape; The execution of a Sri Lankan housemaid working in Saudi Arabia, after being held on death row for six years; The assassinations of two directors of the Department of Women’s Affairs in Laghman province, Afghanistan, for their work on women’s issues. These are just a few examples, and while the attention that these tragedies have received in the media and among the public are vital to redressing the wrongs that plague women in South Asia, firm action needs to be taken by South Asian societies and those that govern them. Read more »

SAHR expresses concern over growing religious terrorism in Pakistan

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) expresses deep concern at the growing religious terrorism in Pakistan that is daily targeting people on the basis of their faith. The first ten days of January alone has seen two major attacks on members of the Shia sect in Balochistan, including those from Hazara community, killing hundreds of people. The fact that banned sectarian groups openly claim responsibility and the government appears helpless or unwilling to act against them is a sad commentary on the state of callous disregard for human life.

The unchecked growth of religious militancy has also affected the work of NGOs, civil society and human rights defenders. Among those killed in the massacre in Quetta on 10 January was Irfan Khudi Ali, a committed rights activist who had stepped out of his house to help blast victims. Parts of the country have seen increasing violence against NGO workers, particularly women. They have been kidnapped or shot dead in broad daylight. Among those recently killed are female polio vaccinators who were performing their duties in Karachi and Peshawar. Read more »

SAHR Statement on exchange of fire and killings along the Line of Control

SAHR is deeply disturbed with the recent exchange of firing and report of the beheading of two Indian jawans along the LoC. The firing and killing of two Indian and one Pakistani jawan is highly deplorable and no sane person or society can accept such unwarranted and gruesome incidences. The said incidences have a potential to derail the ongoing peace process that has shown remarkable progress in recent times in easing the visa regime, improving trade relations and securing many other confidence building measures that hold great promise for both the countries.

Initially Pakistan alleged one Pakistani soldier was killed and another injured in an unprovoked Indian firing and accordingly they summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner Mr. Gopal Baglay and lodged their protest. The report of Pakistani troops crossing LoC in the Mendhar sector of Jammu & Kashmir on Monday and killing two Lance Naik’s is also shocking. The report also says that the body of one of the soldiers was mutilated. India summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner to protest the gruesome incident. If true, it is reprehensible and must be thoroughly investigated to punish the guilty and ensure such terrible incidences do not recur. Read more »

SAHR condemns the execution of Rizana Nafeek

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) condemns the execution of Rizana Nafeek, and expresses grave concern about the continuing vulnerability experienced by many migrant workers from South Asian countries.

Rizana was 17 years old when she traveled to Saudi Arabia, under forged documents, to be employed as a domestic worker. The child in her care died, and while she claimed it was accidental, she was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, over two years later.

Efforts to have her pardoned were championed by many, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, but contrary to some reports that she would soon be pardoned, she was executed on 9th January 2013. Read more »

SAHR release on the passing of Shri I K Gujral

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) mourns the death of Shri I. K. Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India and the Founding Chair of SAHR. Shri Gujral made his mark as a global leader and a visionary for peace. An astute politician and a true statesman, he won respect and credibility not only in his own country but globally. He played a significant role in charting a course for better relations between India and Pakistan and his “Gujral Doctrine” has received acclaim and following amongst those sections of the population in both countries that value progress and development. Read more »

SAHR Statement on the International Day of the Disappeared, 2012

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) joins human rights activists around the World in commemorating the International Day of the Disappeared.

The practice by State actors of forcibly disappearing and illegally detaining someone, without acknowledging their arrest or whereabouts, places the victim outside the protection of the law and is often linked to the crimes of torture and extra-judicial killings. Read more »

SAHR Statement on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

26th June 2012

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) joins human rights activists around the World, in commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This year, the day marks the 25th anniversary of United Nations Convention Against Torture coming into effect.

Despite the fact that this Convention has been in force for a quarter century, only 147 States are party to it. Of the South Asian states, all but Bhutan have signed it, and India is yet to ratify the Convention. Read more »


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