Students for Justice for Sialkot Brothers
We express outrage at the incident of 15th August in Sialkot where two brothers were beaten to death and hanged by a group of six men as police and people watched. They used sticks and wires as weapons. If words aren’t enough, there exist video clips that have captured exactly the cruelty and vulgarity of the manner in which they were beaten up. Some reports say that the grievous bodily harm caused to them continued for just a little less than hour, while others say that it went up to two hours. The murderers expressed their sense of false and twisted arrogance at being invincible and defied the law openly. After brutally beating the victims, they hanged them upside down, bound by chains, as they bled. Reports indicate the victims were still alive at the time of the hanging. This all happened in the presence of police who not only did not intervene physically, but literally stood by and watched. This incident has outraged and emotionally traumatized us and we strongly condemn it for the following reasons: 1) By allowing this to happen by standing quietly and watching the onlookers and the media have aided and abetted this heinous crime, and are complicit in their torture and murder. 2) By taking the law in their own hands, the vigilantes have declared themselves above the law. The brothers were falsely accused of a robbery, and were completely innocent. However, even if they were allegedly guilty of an offence, they deserved their right to a hearing in court and due process of law. 3)The police so brazenly allowed the public to commit a murder. This is indicative of their complete indifference to rule of law, their flagrant disregard of human rights, and of a larger trend of torture in police stations and in secret cells. 4) Police brutality and police complicity in crimes such as these has always been a very urgent issue in Pakistan where humans are treated like animals as the police attempts to take the law into their hands. Those accused of committing a crime are denied their rights to hearing in court. On 5th March, 2010, in Chiniot, five policemen were arrested after cruelly assaulting in public the four men who were accused of allegedly stealing rice. When the victims reported against the police torture they were beaten again, this time in a public park. The Deputy Superintendent of Police who was suspended for torturing Shfiq Dogar was back in office within two months. In July 2010, two Christian brothers Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and Sajjad Emmanuel were gunned down in Faisalabad after being accused of blasphemy. An unknown gunman fled after anonymously taking the law in his own hands and killing them. It should not be left unmentioned that the blasphemy charge against the brothers had not even been proved in a court of law. Such incidents are not uncommon where the police, and the public with the implicit permission of the police, have taken the law into their own hands and committed gross human rights violations. Pakistani police, especially, have a reputation of brutality against those they are paid to protect. Such barbaric incidents not only demand immediate attention but also strong condemnation. We demand to witness justice, not only for the Sialkot brothers and their family, but also for the rest of the citizens of this nation where this heinous crime took place. We demand: 1) That the suo motu inquiry ordered by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for the Lahore High Court be conducted with complete transparency. 2) That the vigilantes, the police, and all those who were accomplices in this act of murder, be arrested and have criminal charges pressed against them. 3) That a strong message be given to members of the public who stood afar and watched that inaction and voyeurism in the face of a brutal crime is immoral, and may be prosecuted as a crime. 4) That strict action ordered against key police officials of Gujranwala be publicized, and the public ensured that these people will not allowed to return to their posts, and endanger the public ever again. 5) That the CJP call an inquiry of all incidents of police brutality in public and committed in torture cells in order to build towards complete police reforms. 6) That immediate and adequate reparation be awarded to the family of the deceased. 7) That a public apology be issued by the Gujranwala Police, various state heads including the Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr. Shahbaz Sharif, and the Governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer immediately.