HRW Acts: Pakistan: End Emerg Rule + Restore Constitution; etc..

Pakistan: End Emergency Rule and Restore Constitution
Move Against ‘Militants’ Brings Crackdown on Civil Society
(New York, November 4, 2007) – Pakistan should immediately return to
constitutional rule, restore fundamental rights and end its crackdown on
the judiciary, lawyers, media, human rights activists and political
opponents, Human Rights Watch said today.
General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani military ruler whose recent
election as president had yet to be ratified by the Supreme Court,
a state of emergency at 5 p.m. on November 3, 2007. Following the
declaration, Pakistani authorities arrested hundreds, mostly judges,
lawyers, and human rights activists. Musharraf has imposed sweeping
censorship rules on the media. All private television channels and
international media have been taken off the air.
On November 4, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz suggested that national
elections scheduled for January 2008 may be postponed.
"On the pretext of fighting militants, General Musharraf has mounted a
coup against Pakistan’s civil society," said Brad Adams, Asia director at
Human Rights Watch. "Musharraf says the country needs emergency laws
to fight fundamentalists, yet the crackdown is focused on the judiciary,
lawyers, media and human rights activists. It’s clear this is aimed solely
keeping himself in power."
On the evening of November 3, a seven-member bench of the Supreme
Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry convened to
issue an order barring the government from proclaiming emergency rule
and urging government functionaries not to implement emergency orders.
These judges were forcibly removed from the Supreme Court premises by
military troops and detained thereafter. Chaudhry, who has led efforts to
establish an independent judiciary and had survived an attempt by
Musharraf earlier this year to dismiss him, was summarily fired.
Only four of the Supreme Court’s 17 judges have taken an oath of
allegiance to the Provisional Constitutional Order issued on November 3
by Musharraf, which suspended the constitution and gave Musharraf
almost total power. At least 60 of 97 senior judges in Pakistan have also
declined to take an oath. Many have been placed under detention to
prevent them from resuming judicial duties.
"Musharraf has claimed he was building the rule of law, but in his single-
minded determination to cling to power he has eviscerated the judiciary,"
said Adams. "He has exposed himself as nothing more than a petty
Human Rights Watch called for the release of all political activists
rounded up by the authorities. On November 4, Aziz said on Pakistan state
television that more than 500 people have been arrested. This includes
hundreds of lawyers across the country, including Aitzaz Ahsan, president
of the Supreme Court Bar Association, office bearers and presidents of
provincial bar associations, and virtually all leading lawyers associated
with the movement for judicial independence that began on March 9 with
the attempted ouster of Chaudhry as chief justice by Musharraf. While
some lawyers have been placed in police custody, Human Rights Watch
has learned that others, including Ali Ahmed Kurd, a senior lawyer from
Balochistan, have been handed over to the military’s feared Inter Services
Intelligence (ISI) agency. The ISI has a well-documented history of using
torture on its political opponents.
The offices of the non-governmental Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan in the central city of Lahore were raided on November 4, and 60
of the country’s most prominent human rights activists were arrested as
they attended a meeting. Police had no written orders and are claiming the
right to detain those arrested for up to 90 days under the colonial-era
Maintenance of Public Order Act. The detainees are being held at the
police lock-up in Model Town (Block A), Lahore, and their families have
not been allowed access to them.
Asma Jahangir, chairperson of the human rights commission and a United
Nations Special Rapporteur, was served a 90-day detention order on the
night of November 3. She remains under house arrest after her house was
officially deemed a sub-jail.
Around 30 television news channels have gone off the air since November
3. Cable television operators told Human Rights Watch they were asked
by the government to stop beaming all local and foreign news channels,
except the state-controlled Pakistan Television. Hours later, Musharraf
introduced curbs on the media through two decrees amending earlier
ordinances barring the media from printing or broadcasting "anything
which defames or brings into ridicule the head of state, or members of the
armed forces, or executive, legislative or judicial organ of the state."
The print and electronic media have also been restrained from publishing
any material that is likely to "jeopardize or be prejudicial to the
of Pakistan or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or any
material that is likely to incite violence or hatred or create inter-faith
disorder or be prejudicial to maintenance of law and order." Television
discussions on anything which is deemed to be "false or baseless" by the
regulatory authorities has also been banned.
Journalists have been repeatedly threatened and prevented from covering
events following suspension of the constitution, had their equipment
confiscated, and been warned that if they record footage of arrests or
police raids, they will face arrest and incarceration.
Human Rights Watch urged the United States, Musharraf’s main patron, to
end its support for Pakistan’s military government and to seek an urgent
return to the rule of law and elected governance in Pakistan. Human
Rights Watch welcomed the statement issued by the US embassy in
Islamabad calling for the release of those detained and an end to
censorship, and the statement from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
that the US would review its aid to Pakistan. "The United States has never
put all of its chips on Musharraf," she was quoted as saying. Musharraf
ignored public calls by senior US government officials not to impose a
state of emergency.
"This is as big a test for the Bush administration as it is for
said Adams. "Thus far, Washington’s long support for a military
government has merely led to an unprecedented political crisis that could
lead Pakistan to disaster, not least in the effort to address
For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Pakistan, please visit:
Please help support the research that made this bulletin possible. In
to protect our objectivity, Human Rights Watch does not accept funding
any government. We depend entirely on the generosity of people like you.
To make a contribution, please visit
Burma: Fully Cooperate with UN Envoy
China, Russia and India Should Support Efforts of Gambari
(New York, November 2, 2007) – The United Nations special envoy on
Burma should demand that the military government commit to the creation
of a structured mechanism for negotiations with opposition parties and
civil society on a quick transition to civilian rule, Human Rights Watch
said today. On Saturday, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on
Burma, Ibrahim Gambari, begins his second visit to Burma since the
violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in September and October.
"Superficial dialogue without a clear purpose or structure will simply
to more empty photo opportunities of opposition leaders like Aung San
Suu Kyi with powerless government officials," said Brad Adams, Asia
director at Human Rights Watch. "It’s important that this visit gets to
heart of the matter – the need to end continued draconian military rule
systematic human rights abuses."
When he briefed the UN Security Council on October 5, Gambari stated
that he had encouraged the Burmese government to pursue "the promotion
of an all-inclusive national reconciliation process." The government’s
long-running National Convention to write a new constitution ended in
early September with an engineered outcome after 14 years of tightly
controlled meetings with no public participation. The deteriorating socio-
economic conditions and the lack of genuine dialogue in Burma were the
main factors that led monks and others to take to the streets.
Human Rights Watch also urged Gambari to obtain public guarantees
from the government of complete cooperation with the November visit of
the UN Special Rapporteur on Burma. This should include full and
unfettered access to political prisoners and detainees, and to all
and unofficial places of detention, as well as protection for individuals
who meet the Special Rapporteur.
"Full cooperation with the United Nations on investigations into the
crackdown should be a litmus test for the usefulness of continued
engagement with the Burmese government," said Adams.
Since Gambari’s last visit to Burma four weeks ago, the ruling State Peace
and Development Council (SPDC) has continued to arrest individuals
accused of being involved in the protests – or even just standing in
watching the demonstrations. Information from throughout the country
indicates widespread fear among the populace. While UN Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon and Gambari have called for the release of all
political prisoners, to date, few prominent political activists have been
The SPDC appointed deputy labor minister Aung Kyi to serve as the
government’s liaison with democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, although
there has been no high-level meeting since that appointment. Far from
demonstrating an interest in national reconciliation, Burmese state
propaganda and mass rallies of supposed civilian supporters have accused
the demonstrators of being supported by outside agitators and the
international media of distorting the real situation in Burma.
The government’s brutality is well-documented. A Human Rights Watch
report released this week showed how the SPDC continues to forcibly
recruit children as young as 10 years old into its ranks as adults desert.
Human Rights Watch called for the government to make commitments to
Special Envoy Gambari to:
* Immediately release all persons detained for exercising their rights
to free expression, association and assembly, including during the
recent unrest;
* Promptly begin a genuine process of dialogue with all political
parties, representatives of Burma’s many ethnic groups, social and
political activists, the Buddhist clergy, and other civil society
groups, on political, social and economic conditions in Burma;
* Cease military attacks targeting ethnic minority populations
throughout the country; and,
* End unnecessary or excessive restrictions on the operations of
international humanitarian aid agencies, including UN agencies
and international relief organizations.
The Security Council, with the consent of China and Russia, has already
called on Burma to take similar steps.
"The Burmese government has done nothing to reverse the crackdown of
the past two months," said Adams. "The Chinese, Indian and Russian
governments, which are key supporters of the military, should publicly
back Gambari in efforts to make real progress on human rights."
To read Human Rights Watch’s recent report on Burma, "Sold to Be
Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in Burma", please
For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Burma, please visit:
Burma: Children Bought and Sold by Army Recruiters
UN Security Council Group to Consider Violations Against Children in Burma
(New York, October 31, 2007) – Facing a military staffing crisis, the
Burmese government is forcibly recruiting many children, some as young
as age 10, into its armed forces, Human Rights Watch said in a report
released today.
Burmese military recruiters target children in order to meet unrelenting
demands for new recruits due to continued army expansion, high desertion
rates and a lack of willing volunteers. Non-state armed groups, including
ethnic-based insurgent groups, also recruit and use child soldiers, though
in far smaller numbers.
"The brutality of Burma’s military government goes beyond its violent
crackdown on peaceful protestors," said Jo Becker, children’s rights
advocate for Human Rights Watch. "Military recruiters are literally buying
and selling children to fill the ranks of the Burmese armed forces."
Based on an investigation in Burma, Thailand and China, the 135-page
report, "Sold to Be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in
Burma," found that military recruiters and civilian brokers receive cash
payments and other incentives for each new recruit, even if the recruit
clearly violates minimum age or health standards.
One boy told Human Rights Watch that he was forcibly recruited at age 11,
despite being only 1.3 meters tall (4’3") and weighing less than 31
kilograms (70 pounds). Officers at recruitment centers routinely falsify
enlistment records to list children as 18, the minimum legal age for
Recruiters target children at train and bus stations, markets and other
public places, and often threaten them with arrest if they refuse to join
army. Some children are beaten until they agree to "volunteer."
"The government’s senior generals tolerate the blatant recruitment of
children and fail to punish perpetrators," said Becker. "In this
army recruiters traffic children at will."
Child soldiers typically receive 18 weeks of military training. Some are
sent into combat situations within days of their deployment to battalions.
Child soldiers are sometimes forced to participate in human rights abuses,
such as burning villages and using civilians for forced labor. Those who
attempt to escape or desert are beaten, forcibly re-recruited or
All of the former soldiers interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported
the presence of children in their training units. Thousands of children
present in the army’s ranks, although their prevalence varies considerably
by battalion. Particularly in some newly formed battalions, children
reportedly constitute a large percentage of privates.
Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the military’s recent
crackdown on monks and civilian demonstrators may make children even
more vulnerable to recruitment.
"Even before the recent crackdown, many young adults rejected military
service because of grueling conditions, low pay and mistreatment by
superior officers," said Becker. "After deploying its soldiers against
Buddhist monks and other peaceful demonstrators, the government may
find it even harder to find willing volunteers."
In 2004, the military government, known as the State Peace and
Development Council (SPDC), created a high-level committee to prevent
the recruitment of children into the military. However, Human Rights
Watch found that in practice the committee has failed to effectively
address the issue and devoted most of its efforts to denouncing outside
reports of child recruitment. As recently as September, the state-run
announced that the government was working to reveal that accusations of
child soldier use were "totally untrue."
"The government’s committee to address child recruitment is a sham,"
said Becker. "Instead of denouncing credible reports of child recruitment,
the government must address the issue head-on. It needs to demobilize all
of the children in its forces, and end all recruitment of children."
The majority of Burma’s 30 or more non-state armed groups reportedly
also recruit and use child soldiers, though in far smaller numbers. Human
Rights Watch examined the policies and practices of 12 armed groups and
found that some, like the Karenni Army and Karen National Liberation
Army, have taken measures to reduce the numbers of children in their
forces. But others, including the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army,
United Wa State Army and Karenni Nationalities People’s Liberation
Front, continue to recruit and use children, sometimes by imposing
recruitment quotas on local villages. Child soldiers in the armed forces
these groups may be as young as 11 or 12. While some armed groups
restrict child soldiers to duties in their camps, others deploy child
into combat situations.
In the coming weeks, the United Nations Security Council’s working
group on children and armed conflict will consider violations against
children in Burma, including the use and recruitment of child soldiers.
UN secretary-general has already identified Burma’s national armed
forces in four consecutive reports to the Security Council for violating
international laws prohibiting the use of child soldiers. The secretary-
general has also listed several armed opposition groups as violators.
The Security Council has stated repeatedly that it will consider targeted
sanctions, including embargoes of arms and other military assistance,
against parties on the secretary-general’s list that refuse to end their
 use of
children as soldiers. So far, it has taken no action in the case of Burma.
Human Rights Watch recommended that the Security Council consider
imposing measures including bans on the supply of arms and military
assistance, travel restrictions on SPDC leaders, and restrictions on the
of financial resources to the SPDC.
"The Security Council should fulfill its pledge to hold violators to
for recruiting and using child soldiers," said Becker. "Given Burma’s
abysmal record on child soldiers, sanctions against the Burmese military
government are clearly warranted."
Testimony from the report
"They filled the forms and asked my age, and when I said 16, I was
slapped and he said, ‘You are 18. Answer 18.’ He asked me again and I
said, ‘But that’s my true age.’ The sergeant asked, ‘Then why did you
enlist in the army?’ I said, ‘Against my will. I was captured.’ He said,
‘Okay, keep your mouth shut then,’ and he filled in the form. I just
to go back home and I told them, but they refused. I said, ‘Then please
let me make one phone call,’ but they refused that too."
-Maung Zaw Oo, describing the second time he was forced into the army,
in 2005
"The officers are corrupt and the battalions have to get recruits, so
a business. The battalions bribe the recruiting officers to get recruits
them. These are mostly underage recruits, but the recruiting officers fill
out the forms for them and say they’re 18."
-Than Myint Oo, forcibly recruited twice as a child
"I can’t remember how old I was the first time in fighting. About 13. That
time we walked into a Karenni ambush, and four of our soldiers died. I
was afraid because I was very young so I tried to run back, but [the]
captain shouted, ‘Don’t run back! If you run back I’ll shoot you
-Aung Zaw, describing his first exposure to combat
"Some really want to join, but others are conscripted. Each village tract
has to send 10 people each time. . People have to take turns sending a
recruit, so some parents send boys under 18. They need to fulfill this
obligation. If they don’t fulfill it, the DKBA can make lots of trouble
them. They don’t accept crazy or sick people, but if you’re normal you
have to go whether you’re under 18 or over 18. They don’t care how old
you are."
-Junior officer with the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA)
"It is necessary for us to always refute the accusations [about the
recruitment of child soldiers] systematically . [and] always project
before the international community the correct efforts being made by the
committee and refute baseless accusations."
-Adjutant General Thein Sein, in his concluding speech to the
Committee for the Prevention of Military Recruitment of Underage
Children, 2005
To read the report, "Sold to Be Soldiers: The Recruitment and Use of
Child Soldiers in Burma," please visit:
For more of Human Rights Watch’s work on Burma, please visit:
US: Senate Should Reject Mukasey Nomination
Refusal to Denounce Waterboarding Shows Him Unfit for Attorney General
(Washington, DC, October 31, 2007) â?" The United States Senate should
reject Michael Mukasey’s appointment as attorney general because of his
unwillingness to state that "waterboarding" and other cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment is illegal, Human Rights Watch said today.
In response to written questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Mukasey said on Tuesday that waterboarding â?" mock drowning
prosecuted by the United States as torture since 1902 â?" was "repugnant,"
but refused to call it illegal.
"Mukasey seems to think he was nominated to be an ethics professor
rather than the nation’s chief law enforcement officer," said Kenneth
Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. "If he is still unsure
whether the horrific practice of waterboarding is illegal, then he
shouldn’t be confirmed."
In his 172-page response to Senate Judiciary committee questions,
Mukasey refused to comment on the legality of any specific interrogation
techniques, claiming that it would be inappropriate to comment on them
until he had been briefed by the Justice Department on "the actual facts
and circumstances" of how they may have been used. But waterboarding
is clearly unlawful regardless of the circumstances, Human Rights Watch
"If Mukasey had been asked about the rack and thumbscrew, would he
have said that it depends on the circumstances?" Roth asked. "The only
reason to equivocate on waterboarding is to protect administration
officials who authorized it from possible prosecution," Roth added.
Human Rights Watch pointed out that waterboarding has been
prosecuted by US military courts as torture for more than 100 years,
since the Spanish-American War. After World War II, US military
commissions prosecuted and severely punished enemy soldiers for
having subjected American prisoners to waterboarding. In its annual
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, the State Department has
consistently condemned other countries for using the practice.
The Judge Advocates General (JAGs) of the US Army, Navy, Air Force
and Marines agreed in August 2006 that waterboarding, which creates
the perception of drowning, violates US law and the law of war. Several
JAGs specifically stated that use of this technique would violate the US
anti-torture statute, making it a felony offense.
In addition, rather than rejecting certain interrogation techniques
regardless of the circumstances, Mukasey adopted the administration’s
subjective "shocks the conscience" test to interpret the prohibition on
cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Under that legal test, the
cruelty of an interrogation technique must be balanced against its
and in the administration’s view, little shocks the conscience if done in
the name of fighting terrorism. That thinking led to the adoption of
abusive interrogation techniques â?" including waterboarding â?" in the
Of particular concern, Mukasey suggested that the rules of interrogation
adopted in 2006 by the US Army Field Manual are primarily designed
for the interrogation of prisoners of war, not terrorist suspects. But the
Army Field Manual, which applies to all persons in military custody
regardless of status, was adopted at a time when most of those in US
military custody were terrorist suspects who had been denied prisoner of
war status. The Army Field Manual explicitly prohibits a range of
abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, exposure to
hot and cold, and use of dogs.
Mukasey’s answers were vague or unresponsive on a number of other
important questions. He failed to state clearly what â?" if any â?"
interrogation techniques would violate a minimum standard of humane
treatment regardless of the interest at stake. He refused to say whether
evidence obtained through coercion could legitimately be used in a
prosecution against a terrorist suspect, and whether an American citizen
detained on US soil could be indefinitely detained as an "enemy
combatant." Mukasey also failed to answer what, if anything, he would
do to oversee the actions of private contractors operating in Iraq and
Afghanistan and whether he thought it legal to send terrorist suspects to
countries that regularly engage in torture if the US were provided
"diplomatic assurances" â?" unenforceable promises of humane treatment.
"How can the government be expected to abide by the rule of law if its
chief law enforcement officer won’t even say what the law is?" said Roth.
"Mukasey provided evasions, not answers, to the most pressing issues
facing the Justice Department. He should not be confirmed as attorney
More of Human Rights Watch’s work on the torture and abuse of US
detainees, please visit:
Please help support the research that made this bulletin possible. In
to protect our objectivity, Human Rights Watch does not accept funding
any government. We depend entirely on the generosity of people like you.
To make a contribution, please visit

About reality

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