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‘As If Hell Fell On Me” | ReportReader

In Terrorism on June 10, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Thursday, June 9th Amnesty International released a 150 page report on the “human rights crisis” in Northwest Pakistan.

“I lost my sense when I reached the door of my house and saw and heard the crying of my close neighbors and relatives–as if hell fell on me. When I saw people putting the dead bodies of my children, parents, and other relatives in bed I couldn’t bear it anymore and fell on the ground…” -A 25-year-old man who lost nine relatives after Pakistani security forces hit his home in the Loi Sam area of Bajaur Agency.

This Thursday Amnesty International released “As If Hell Fell On Me,” a 150 page report documenting systemic human rights abuses by the government and extremist forces in Northwest Pakistan. (Read the full PDF here.)

The report, which is based on more than 300 interviews with residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and surrounding regions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has already drawn the ire of the Pakistani government.

The Pakistani Minister for Human Rights, Mumtaz Alam Gilani has called it  “unfortunate and incorrect.” Chief among the government’s disagreements with Amnesty’s findings is that nearly 4 million Pakistanis are living under Taliban rule and that the FATA is a “human rights free zone.”

The report asserts that the Pakistani government has not provided the people of FATA with the political rights or judicial institutions afforded to the rest of the Pakistani population, specifically condemning the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR), the colonial era laws exclusively governing the FATA, and that the Pakistani military’s operations and actions of local lashkars have resulted in high numbers of civilian casualties.

Minister Gilani has defended the Pakistani government’s actions, saying

When there is a war there is no civil right, there is no court and these areas are traditionally beyond the normal laws. We are getting hold of different places to manipulate and to further forward our attack on the enemy,” said Gilani. “They are on the run now. They are not on the attack. So such type of reports, they discourage the government of Pakistan ‘s intentions and attitude [and] they do not help (VOA).

The report also focuses on those displaced by military operations, stating that the 1 million who were forced to leave their homes and have not returned are “largely ignored” by the government.

In addition to the criticisms leveled against the Pakistani leadership, Amnesty cites the U.S. for the civilian casualty rate resulting from drone strikes.  It is critical to note that while Amnesty does not call for a halt to drone strikes altogether, it urges the U.S. to “investigate, discipline or prosecute, in a credible and transparent manner any officials found guilty of violating international humanitarian law or rules of engagement in conducting drone strikes”. (For more on these drone-specific recommendations, see here.)

The report highlights abuses by the Pakistani Taliban and extremist groups, particularly focusing on right deprivations in Khyber, Mohmand, Bajaur, South Waziristan and North Waziristan agencies.  It condemns gender-based abuses and the bombing of girls schools.

Funnily enough, the report also has recommendations for the Pakistani Taliban, including that it acknowledge its obligation to comply with international law and that it respect the UN Declaration of Human Rights.  Needless to say, if the Pakistani government cannot get behind this report, how can the Taliban?  Still, the report emphasizes the role the international community can take on in achieving these objectives; the results remain to be seen.

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