PAKISTAN: A female human rights defender is brutally murdered and the police attempt to pass it off as an honour killing Human Rights Asia, (thanks to Religion of Peace.com)
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that a young female activist, Ms. Sahib Khatoon was allegedly brutally murdered by her husband while returning home from her job in a NGO. She was forced to marry her cousin and neither of them were happy with the arrangement. The marriage ended in her murder. She was killed because she was working to raise awareness of human rights so when her own right to marry the person of her choice was violated she raised her voice which was unbearable for her husband. He first confessed that he murdered his wife but after one night at the station he changed his confession and the police, who allegedly received a bribe, are now changing the case into a honour killing.
Ms. Sahib Khatoon Mirani (24) a resident of Nangar Maiyani, Ghotki District was allegedly shot and killed by her husband Mohammad Ali on 20 September between the hours of 5 to 6 p.m. Sahib Khatoon was working with a NGO known as the Takleeq Foundation. She was appointed as a social mobiliser in the community Infrastructure Improvement Project (CIIP). Prior to this she worked with World Vision and besides being an activist she was also a health worker and completed a nursing course. She married her cousin two years ago and this arranged marriage took place without the will of either the husband or wife. One month after the marriage the situation between them became serious and Sahib left the house of her husband and returned to her mother's house where she stayed. This happed on several occasions and every time she left her husband would come and negotiate with her to come back.
Sahib’s father Mr. Wahid Bux Mirani died two years ago and on 11 August this year her mother also passed away. Due to the death of both her parents Sahib’s uncle, who was also her father in law due to her marriage to her cousin, came to her home and requested that she return to her husband's house. She agreed and went home where for a few days the relationship between Sahib and her husband appeared normal.
Sometimes Mohammad Ali would take his wife to and from her office and sometimes this was done by her brothers. On the evening of 20 September her husband went to pick her up on the way home. In an calculated move to make her think that everything was fine and that he was a changed man they stopped near a water channel called Dingro wah which flows near a farm in Aarab kolachi in taluka and district Ghotki. However, after spending a few moments, as reported by a nearby farmer, Mohammad Ali, along with two companions took out a pistol and started firing at her. They left her bullet riddled body in some bushes near the Dingro Wah and ran away.
In the evening when Mr. Ramzan, Sahib's brother learned of the brutal murder he took her body to the Ghotki Hospital where a post mortem took place. Ramzan registered the case against the husband and two unknown perpetrators. The First Investigation Report (FIR) containing the number 214/2013, 302/34 PPC (Pakistan Panel Code) was registered at the Ghotki Police Station. Ali was arrested but his two accomplices are still at large and are frequently seen in the area.
Mohammad Ali, initially confessed to having murdered his wife but the following day, after allegedly have dealt with the police by means of a bribe, recanted his confession and claimed that he had killed her in an honour killing due to Shahib having an illicit relationship with the NGO's office driver. It has been reported in the local media that Ali has the support of the feudal leaders of Ghotki district who are now portraying the case as that of karo kari.
In the rural areas of Pakistan female human rights defender are frequently targeted by local influential persons and politicians who do not appreciate young women working for the welfare of the community. In the recent past they have also been the target of the Taliban. Ghotki district, Sindh province is top ranked in Pakistan for honor killings which are the easiest way of dealing with ladies who upset the established customs. There are many feudal leaders who are ruling in Ghotki that hold feudal courts called Jirgas which, despite being declared illegal, are still active in the rural areas of the country. These courts are used by persons who want to get rid of troublesome females by declaring them karo kari. In many of these feudal areas especially in Ghotki women are still seen as property.
Please write a letter to the following authorities, calling on them to initiate inquiries into the case of the brutal murder of Ms. Sahib Khatoon by her husband and two other alleged persons. The Sindh government must prevent the NGO's driver being framed in the honour killing as the police are trying to claim that he had an illicit relationship with the victim. Justice must be provided to the family of the victim. The Ghotki police must be prosecuted for turning the case into an honour killing in order to protect the murderer.
The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Human Rights Defenders calling for his intervention into this matter.