(This is a statement which I prepared for the Asian Human Rights Commission. All extrajudicial killings are bad but this one was particularly brutal. Please follow the link to see the Urgent Appeal - http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAU-024-2013/?searchterm=afzal%20panhwar and http://vimeo.com/74800162 for the video).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2013
A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission
PAKISTAN: A video exposes the fake encounter in which a student leader was extrajudicially killed
On August 22 the Asian Human Rights Commission issued an urgent appeal, PAKISTAN: A student leader was extrajudicially killed in a fake encounter conducted the intelligence agencies. We have now come into possession of a video produced by the police which was leaked to the AHRC which attempts to prove that Mr. Afzal Panhwar was killed in a legitimate police encounter. However, if anything, the video proves conclusively that the encounter was in fact, a fake and set up by the police.
A Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Mr. Saqib Memon, led the police team from the rear and can be seen clearly in several scenes.
The video of the fake encounter, which may be seen here, is in Urdu and Sindhi but English subtitles start at 1:35 and continue up to the end.
Viewers please note that the video is graphic in detail.
The AHRC mentioned in the aforementioned urgent appeal that Panhwar was arrested and taken to a jungle area at the bank of the River Indus at Kotri, Sindh province. It is shown clearly in the video that his arm was broken severely which poses the question as to how he might have fired upon the officers.
The video was forwarded to the AHRC by some Sindhi speaking police officials who were distressed at the blatant and violent killing of a young Sindhi nationalist who surrendered voluntarily to the police earlier when they raided his house.
Police encounters are a method used by the law enforcement authorities to avoid legal process and embarrassing questions as to how suspects died in their custody.
In the pretext of fighting the war of terror the police and intelligence agencies have adopted a strategy whereby they can arrest and kill innocent and peaceful citizens in fake encounters and get fame, rewards and promotions from the government. This phenomenon is commonly used in Balochistan province where every year around 70 to 80 persons are killed in the custody of the security agencies after their enforced disappearances. The Chief Minister of Punjab province is notorious for using fake encounters. Shahbaz Sharif introduced this method of avoiding unwanted questions in 1997. When coming into power he employs police officers who are experts in arranging such encounters. In 2012 no less than 57 ordinary persons were killed in fake police encounters.
Seeing this innocent young man's face on the video brings home the horror of this senseless crime which is being perpetuated by the law enforcement agencies. Fake encounters are the result of a society that has little or no criminal justice system. They are a tried and true method of getting rid of unwanted personalities with as little fuss and bother as possible. The police merely need to convince the public that an encounter has taken place by revealing a dead body or bodies. As the police are the only living witnesses to the encounter there is no one to testify on behalf of the victim.
The AHRC urges the government of Sindh province to arrest the SSP and the other officers involved in this extrajudicial killing and prosecute them on charges of murder. The Sindh government must send a clear and concise message to the law enforcement agencies that this type of brutality will no longer be tolerated.