Hold them and peace in your hearts.
From: Medea Benjamin
November 23, the day after Thanksgiving
Human rights activist Tighe Barry and I are on our way to Pakistan today. It's a bit of a trek--leaving from New York to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), where we have an 11-hour layover, then on to Karachi for a week, then Lahore and perhaps Islamabad.
This is the beginning of what we hope will be an on-going presence of US human rights observers in Pakistan until the elections are scheduled to take place in January.
We've been very troubled by the state of affairs since General Musharraf imposed martial law on November 3. Under the guise of the war on terrorism, he has jailed thousands of lawyers, human rights advocates and opposition leaders. Some have been released, but many remain in prison or under house arrest. He sacked the Supreme Court and then stacked it with his own judges, thereby wiping out an independent judiciary. And he clamped down on the press, closing several stations and restricting others.
So we are going to learn more about the situation, hoping to interview the lawyers and activists who have been victimized by the crackdown. We'll get their stories and learn how we can be of support as they take great risks to bring the rule of law back to their country.
With the US government shoring up Musharraf and continuing to give millions of our taxdollars to his regime every month, we in the US have a great responsibility toward the people of Pakistan. Thanks why this trip--and hopefully the subsequent delegations--are so important.
Below is a description of the delegations and their purpose. We hope you'll help us spread the word, so that more people from the US will join us or donate funds so that others can come.
Much love and happy holidays to all.
Thanks so much,
Cofounder, Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace
Emergency Delegations to Pakistan to Support the Rule of Law
The Ad-Hoc Committee for the Rule of Law in Pakistan (ACRLP) is organizing a series of delegations to Pakistan starting November 25, 2007 and continuing through January, 2008 -- when elections promised by President-General Parvez Musharraf may or may not be held. The delegates include lawyers, human rights activists, free press advocates and labor supporters who will travel to various parts of the country to meet with Pakistan-based democracy activists, as well as representatives of local political parties.
The delegations' purpose includes:
To show support for the secular progressive communities in Pakistan that have been victimized by emergency rule, as well as local human rights and democracy activists who have been especially targeted by authorities;
To produce a well-researched report documenting the crackdown on human rights and democracy activists
To consult with local human rights and democracy activists and develop recommendations for restoring democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan;
Upon returning to the U.S., to pressure the White House and Congress to adopt the recommendations crafted with the advice of local human rights and democracy activists;
To educate the U.S. public about the dire situation in Pakistan, its implications for the region and U.S. national security, and how to support a return to democracy and the restoration of the rule of law.
If January elections do indeed move forward, to assess the conditions for free and fair elections.
On the ground in Pakistan, we will be assisted by professors and students from the Law and Policy Program of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
The first delegation will start the week of November 25.
The ACRLP currently faces several needs:
Groups to sign on to the Ad-Hoc Committee for the Rule of Law in Pakistan
Individuals to join the delegations
Funds to support the effort. Checks (tax-deductible) can be made out to Global Exchange/Pakistan and sent to 2017 Mission St, 2nd fl, San Francisco 94110.