In Pakistan, thousands of people from tribes have rallied in the northwestern city of Peshawar demanding the release of scores of suspects being held by authorities on alleged links to militants. The participants chanted against security forces and carried portraits of relatives they claim went missing during military operations in recent years.
An estimated 15,000 people attended Sunday’s rally organized by the Movement for Protection of Pashtuns group.
In his speech, organizer Manzoor Pashteen said they are calling for the right to live without fear. The Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), or Pashtun Protection Movement, was started mainly by young Pashtun activists who are demanding an end to what they say are human rights violations by authorities in the country’s tribal regions.
The group has become active since January when police killed a 27-year-old aspiring model from the tribes, Naqeeb Ullah, in Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
They have been calling for the removal of military checkpoints in tribal areas and an end to “enforced disappearances” in which suspects are detained by security forces without due process.
Pashteen, the founder leader of the PTM, told the gathering yesterday that Pakistan’s government needs to form a judicial commission to investigate alleged extra-judicial killings in Pashtun-dominated regions of Pakistan.
He said police and security officials must bring before the courts all Pashtuns who have been detained and listed by authorities as missing. Pashteen also said Pakistan’s government needs to clear landmines from the war-torn tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.