| by Aklima Ferdows Lisa
( May 12 2014, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)., a human rights group based in Dhaka, is deeply grieved and condemns in strongest voice the brutal killing of Mr. Rashid Rehman, a prominent human rights defender in Pakistan. Mr. Rehman was a veteran lawyer and serving as the Multan Task Force Coordinator of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a leading human rights organization in Pakistan.
It has been reported by the media that Mr. Rehman was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Multan, Pakistan on 7 May 2014. The gunmen entered into his office and opened fire indiscriminately, resulting in his death and severe injury of two of his colleagues. Mr. Rehman was representing a lecturer of the Bahauddin Zakariya University who had been accused of committing blasphemy on March 2013. The case had been registered under pressure from right-wing student groups and no lawyer was prepared to defend the case for a year over fear of attacks by the extremist religious groups. However, Rashid Rehman took the courage to defend the accused.
We came to know from HRCP statements and news reports that Mr. Rehman received threats from the team representing the complainant during first hearing of the case in March 2013, which took place inside the prison for security reasons. Lawyers representing the complainant told Mr. Rehman, in front of the Judge that ‘he would not be present at the next hearing as he would not be alive.’ It is regrettable that no attention was paid to HRCP’s or Rashid’s concerns of possible reprisals and he was not given any protection by the concerned authorities.
ASK urges the Government of Pakistan to immediately investigate the killing of Mr. Rehman and ensure that all those involved are held fully accountable with full force of law. We express our deepest condolence to Mr. Rehman’s family members, friends, colleagues in HRCP and among human rights community in Pakistan and around the globe.
We salute the courageous human rights defender and vow to continue our fight in defending peoples’ rights in solidarity with Mr. Rashid Rehman.