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Pakistan: Killing of NGO worker Farida Afridi in Jamrud Tehsil of Khyber Agency

July 9, 2012

Women's Action Forum (WAF) Lahore is deeply disturbed by the shocking news of the killing of  Ms. Farida Afridi in the Khyber Agency. It is evident from news reports that she was killed because she was a woman human rights defender associated with a non-government organization working for the welfare of tribal women. This is not the first killing of a human rights defender in the tribal area and it sends a chilling message to the whole community of civil society organizations working for people’s rights and for their development and welfare.

It is a matter of grave concern that retrogressive forces of extremism are allowed to perpetuate a reign of terror over the tribal population, especially women in public service. Despite these elements being identifiable, the state authorities have completely failed to enforce the rule of law. The inaction of the state in the face of murder and open threats against people has resulted in complete impunity for those who commit acts of terrorism with dire consequences for the victims.

The state has a duty to protect its population against human rights violations and acts of terrorism. Its consistent failure to hold non-state actors accountable for the heinous crimes they commit and the level of impunity available to the religious extremists in the country is unacceptable. In failing to protect its people from vicious forces operating within its own border the state has undermined the state loses all moral authority to denounce the loss of civilian lives resulting from any act of a foreign power.

WAF Lahore strongly condemns the acts of extremist elements either obstructs the work of development or the promotion and protection of human rights in any part of the country. WAF call upon the state authorities to either fulfill their duty to protect or to publicly concede failure to curb the elements that are destroying all prospects for progress and peace in the country. Platitudes and false claims of diligence by the authorities sound hollow in the face of a deteriorating situation and the mounting violence perpetrated by elements who have been so emboldened by the impunity they enjoy that they proudly claim responsibility for these heinous killings.

WAF expects state authorities to immediately issue a strong condemnation of the killing of Farida Afridi; to announce effective measures for the protection of human rights defenders, especially women; affirm its commitment to provide a safe environment for all those engaged in development work, humanitarian assistance and the promotion of human rights; and, above all, announce measures for routing out the criminals responsible for the terrorization of  NGOs through killings and death threats.

Naleem Hussain,
WAF Working Committee

 The following petition is being circulated by members of WAF in response to these events:  

"It is a matter of grave concern that retrogressive forces of extremism are allowed to perpetuate a reign of terror over the tribal population, especially women in public service. Despite these elements being identifiable, the state authorities have completely failed to enforce the rule of law. Inaction of the state in the face of murder and open threats against people has resulted in complete impunity for those who commit acts of terrorism with dire consequences for the victims. We condemn acts of extremist elements that obstruct the work of development or promotion and protection of human rights in any part of the country. We demand from state authorities who have so far stayed silent, to immediately issue a strong condemnation of the killing of Farida Afridi; KPK governor and political agent of FATA take full responsibility for Farida’s murder and announce effective measures for protection of human rights defenders, especially women; authorities affirm commitment to provide a safe environment for all those engaged in promotion of human rights/development work; and above all, announce measures for routing out criminals responsible for the terrorization of NGOs".

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