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Disappearance of Waqas Goraya

Status: 
Smear campaign
About the situation

On 1 February 2017, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received a complaint filed against five human rights defenders, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Samar Abbas, for allegedly committing blasphemy on social media. The FIA subsequently clarified that no case has yet been registered, but they are evaluating the complaint. The five human rights defenders were disappeared for at least three weeks in January 2017. The whereabouts of one, Samar Abbas, remains unknown.

 

About Waqas Goraya

waqas_goraya.jpgWaqas Goraya is a human rights defender and co-administrator of a Facebook page, Mochi and Group: Citizens for Secular Democracy, where he campaigns for human rights and religious freedom. The blog involves reports on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan.

3 February 2017
Harassment of Waqas Goraya

On 1 February 2017, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) received a complaint filed against five human rights defenders, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Samar Abbas, for allegedly committing blasphemy on social media. The FIA subsequently clarified that no case has yet been registered, but they are evaluating the complaint. The five human rights defenders were disappeared for at least three weeks in January 2017. The whereabouts of one, Samar Abbas, remains unknown.

Salman Haider is a human rights defender and a professor at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi. He has been working on minority rights, particularly in Balochistan where he has been critical about enforced disappearances. He has participated in rallies and protests against the disappearances of nationalists and separatists from Balochistan province.  In 2016, there were more than 400 abductions and enforced disappearances of Baloch civilians by the security forces. Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed are both human rights defenders and co-administrators of a Facebook page, Mochi and Group: Citizens for Secular Democracy, where they campaign for human rights and religious freedom. Their blog involves reports on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. This Facebook page is no longer accessible. Ahmed Raza Naseer is a human rights defender and was administrator of a Facebook page, since shut down, that reported on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. Samar Abbas is the president of the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP). CPAP is a human rights group based in Karachi which campaigns for human rights and religious freedom. Their blog reports on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. Samar Abbas also worked in Karachi with various internet forums that report on the oppression of Pakistan’s ethnic and religious minority groups.

On 1 February 2017, Hafiz Ahtasham Ahmed filed a complaint with the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Station in Iqbal Town, stating that the FIA should act against the five above-mentioned human rights defenders for allegedly spreading blasphemous content on social media, which is illegal under Section 295 C of the Blasphemy law and the Anti-Terrorism Act. During the course of their disappearance, an online smear campaign was launched, labeling the five human rights defenders as blasphemers. The FIA ordered an investigation to be opened on Salman Haider and he is banned from travelling abroad until it has reached a conclusion.  Judicial permission was also granted for the initiation of an investigation against the other four human rights defenders.

On 4 January 2017, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed were reported missing from Wapda Town, Lahore. On 6 January 2017, Salman Haider disappeared from Islamabad. On 7 January 2017, Samar Abbas was travelling from Karachi to Islamabad for business. His family reported that he was in continuous communication with them until 7 January 2017 when his mobile phone was switched off and he became uncontactable. On 7 January 2017, Ahmed Raza Naseer was taken from his family’s shop in Punjab province by unidentified men.

On 28 January 2017, four of the five human rights defenders, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Salman Haider,  Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed were released separately. Salman Haider returned home without commenting on his disappearance. Shortly after his release Waqas Goraya  left the country.  Waqas Goraya’s father declined to comment on who had detained the human rights defender. Asim Saeed has also left the country.  Asim Saeed’s father reported that the family of the human rights defender had received death threats, with one text message saying “You who have blasphemed deserve death. You are out of Islam and should be ready for a painful punishment, which will be remembered by your generations to come.”  Ahmed Raza Naseer has also been freed. The whereabouts of the fifth human rights defender, Samar Abbas, remain unknown.

Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern over the judicial harassment against human rights defenders Salman Haider, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed and Samar Abbas, and Samar Abbas’ continued disappearance. Front Line Defenders  urges the authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of  Samar Abbas, which it believes is solely motivated by his peaceful and legitimate work in human rights in Pakistan.



 

20 January 2017
Smear campaign against Waqas Goraya

On 18 January 2017 the families of the four human rights defenders who disappeared between 4 and 7 January 2017,  Mr. Ahmed Raza Naseer, Mr. Salman Haider, Mr. Waqas Goraya and Mr. Asim Saeed, held a press conference in Islamabad. During the press conference, the families reported that  online smear campaigns are being conducted which label the four human rights defenders as blasphemers. Blasphemy is  punishable by the death  in Pakistan.

Salman Haider is a human rights defender and a professor at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi. He has been working on minority rights, particularly in Balochistan where he has been critical about enforced disappearances. He has participated in rallies and protests against the disappearances of nationalists and separatists from Balochistan province. His disappearance is the latest in a string of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions of individuals from the Baloch community within the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. In 2016, there have been more than 400 abductions and enforced disappearances of Baloch civilians by the security forces. Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed are both human rights defenders and co-administrators of a Facebook page, Mochi and Group: Citizens for Secular Democracy, where they campaign for human rights and religious freedom. Their blog involves reports on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. This Facebook page is no longer accessible. Ahmed Raza Naseer is a human rights defender and administrator of a Facebook page that was targeted under the crackdown. This page was also used to report on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan.

Following the disappearance of the four human rights defenders, a number of smear campaigns were initiated on Facebook pages which framed the writings of the bloggers as blasphemous and called for them to be persecuted under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. This is part of an ongoing trend which has seen conservative groups in the country lobby the government to register more such cases. One particular Facebook page, which has 400,000 likes, also issued accusations that the human rights defenders were in receipt of funding from the Indian intelligence agency.

On 7 January 2017, Ahmed Raza Naseer was taken from his family’s shop in Punjab province by unidentified men. On 6 January 2017, Salman Haider disappeared from Islamabad. On 4 January 2017, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed were reported missing from Wapda Town, Lahore.

Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern at the smear campaign against human rights defenders Salman Haider, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed, which it believes is solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate work in human rights in Pakistan.







 

10 January 2017
Disappearance of Waqas Goraya

Last week, four human rights defenders disappeared in Pakistan. On 7 January 2017, Mr. Ahmed Raza Naseer was taken from his family’s shop in Punjab province by unidentified men. On 6 January 2017, Mr. Salman Haider disappeared from Islamabad. On 4 January 2017, Mr. Waqas Goraya and Mr. Asim Saeed were reported missing from Wapda Town, Lahore.

Download the Urgent Appeal (PDF)

Salman Haider is a human rights defender and a professor at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Rawalpindi. He has been working on minority rights, particularly in Balochistan where he has been critical about enforced disappearances. He has participated in rallies and protests against the disappearances of nationalists and separatists from Balochistan province. This disappearance is the latest in a string of enforced disappearances, torture and extrajudicial executions of individuals from the Baloch community from the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. In 2016, there have been more than 400 abductions and enforced disappearances of Baloch civilians by the security forces. Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed were both human rights defenders and co-administrators of a Facebook page, Mochi and Group: Citizens for Secular Democracy, where they campaign for human rights and religious freedom. Their blog involves reports on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan. This Facebook page is no longer accessible. Ahmed Raza Naseer is a human rights defender and administrator of a Facebook page that came under the crackdown, this page was also used to report on human rights violations committed by security forces and religious extremists in Pakistan.

 

On 7 January 2017, Ahmed Raza Naseer was taken by unidentified men from his family’s shop in Nankana Sahib, Sheikhupura, Punjab province. On 6 January 2017, Salman Haider disappeared from Islamabad. Before his disappearance,  the human rights defender told his brother that he was in the Bani Gala region with friends and had called his wife to let her know that he would be home by 8 p.m. At 10 p.m., his wife called him but there was no answer.  Salman Haider's wife later received a text message to her phone, instructing her to collect his car from a roadside at Koral Chowk, located on the outskirts of Islamabad. The police later found Salman Haider's car in Korang Town. A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered at the Lohi Bher police station and police are investigating it as a possible kidnapping under Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code. On 4 January 2017, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed were taken from Wapda Town, Lahore and were reported missing by a cybersecurity NGO.



In August 2016, the Pakistani government introduced a cybercrimes law which is being used to hamper digital freedom of expression. Under this law, the government is able to censor online content, criminalize internet user activity and access internet users’ data without judicial review.



Front Line Defenders expresses grave concern at the disappearance of human rights defenders  Salman Haider, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed, which it believes is solely motivated by their peaceful and legitimate work in human rights in Pakistan.



Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Pakistan to:



1. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the disappearance of human rights defenders Salman Haider, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed, with a view to ensuring their protection and release, publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;



2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Pakistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.