FIR against women march organisers

AAM dismayed at a Peshawar court order

News Desk

Islamabad: The organisers of the Aurat Azadi March (women liberation march) Islamabad chapter has expressed dismay at the order issued by a Peshawar session court.

The sessions court judge on Friday directed the Peshawar Cantonment police to file an FIR under Section 22A of the CrPC against organisers and participants of ‘Aurat March’ held on 8th March 2021 in Islamabad.

The judge issued the order on a petition filed by a group of Peshawar-based lawyers that repeated the same vile lies against Aurat Azadi March organisers circulated for more than two weeks.

“These lies, and the outrageous allegations of blasphemous slogans and banners, in particular, have been definitively debunked many times over,” a statement issued by the AAM organisers said.

Moreover, it said, government officials including PM’s adviser on religious affairs Tahir Ashrafi and Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry have already directed the relevant authorities to initiate an inquiry and action against the elements responsible for sharing doctored content online and spreading the false allegations.

Prominent personalities from all walks of life and some mainstream media had also condemned the vilification of the AAM organisers by some right-wing elements.

In a joint statement signed by over 1,000 leading personalities including editors, columnists, lawyers, human rights defenders and politicians condemned the concoction of facts to incite violence against the women leaders and unjustly implicating them in false cases by committing themselves blasphemy.

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“Instead of protesting and fighting harassment, rape and killing of women and children, the religious right has been shamelessly blaming women activists on concocted charges and doctored evidence,” the statement read.

“In fact, these are the very elements who use cooked up charges of blasphemy and, thus, commit blasphemy themselves,” they said.

“To accept such a vile and baseless petition is to subject women involved in any way with Aurat Azadi March Islamabad to unspeakable danger. Legal cases against AAM organizers/participants are untenable due to the complete lack of evidence to back up lies and propaganda,” a statement issued by the Aurat Azadi March organisers said.

The court order will embolden elements that have, in the recent past, taken the law into their own hands and engaged in violence against innocent men and women, it said.

“Arousing religious sentiments in Pakistan is akin to issuing a death warrant, and the sessions court order is fanning the flames of a fire that threatens to engulf women who have committed no crime other than speak for their own and the rights of women, girls and oppressed peoples throughout this country, rights that are guaranteed by the constitution.”

The AAM had recently written an open letter to the prime minister demanding stern action against those who continue to spread baseless lies; we have liaised consistently and responsibly with authorities in Islamabad and beyond despite being subjected to such vile accusations, the statement read.

The court order after all these efforts is extremely disturbing and suggests ambivalence in the state’s attitude, the AAM statement said.

The AAM has demanded unequivocal action from all relevant state organisations to ensure that this alarming situation does not spiral completely out of control.

They have urged police, administrative and elected authorities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to recognize that the allegations have been patently established as false and mala fide. There is no basis upon which to lodge an FIR, and we demand protection from the authorities accordingly.

The AAM organisers have urged the government functionaries, particularly, the PM and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to take notice of, and bring a halt to, the ongoing political and legal smear campaign against AAM Islamabad.

They maintained that events were organized on 8th March in multiple cities across Pakistan on International Women’s Day, but the brunt of the lies, allegations, legal applications and now legal injunctions, are being borne exclusively by Islamabad-based women activists, suggesting deliberated targeting.

This cannot be allowed to continue, and we demand that the PM and CJ publicly come out in our support and take action against the elements which continue peddling hatred and lies and subjecting countless women to grave danger, the statement concluded.

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