Pakistan: Protests by families of the disappeared met with intimidation, harassment and violence

Gul Naaz, who has been campaigning for her brother’s return since his disappearance in 2009 from the city of Mingora, told Amnesty International that the police have shown up at her home, questioned her family members and even pressured them to forbid her from protesting.

Another person Amnesty International spoke with described how 40-50 police officers showed up at a peaceful protest in Peshawar in 2021 and warned protesters that if they did not immediately disperse, the police would “do something to them that they would always remember.”

In some cases, the authorities have also resorted to arbitrary arrests and detention to discourage peaceful protests and stop people from gathering to exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

Amina Masood Janjua, who has been campaigning against enforced disappearances after her husband disappeared in 2005, told Amnesty International that she had received threatening phone calls from unidentified numbers.

“I got calls saying, ‘your funeral is ready, you are going to be killed’. When I asked, ‘why am I going to be killed?’ they said, ‘because of your campaigning’.” Amina Masood Janjua, a protestor.

Gul Naaz said the police have stopped vehicles carrying protesters on their way to a rally. “If we still insisted on going, they would call the lady police [female police officers] and forcefully take us out [of the vehicles] and not let us go,” she told Amnesty International.

Amnesty International has also documented unlawful charges beingbrought against protesters for “blocking the road” or “disobeying the law” for participating in a peaceful protest in an attempt to discourage them from campaigning.

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