US-Pakistani HR activist says abused by security personnel
* Was abused and assaulted during protest against CJP’s suspension
* Says action ordered by senior intelligence officials
By Ali Waqar
LAHORE: Dr Amna Buttar, a Pakistani-American human rights campaigner, has accused Anti-terrorist Squad (ATS) personnel of abusing her during a demonstration in support of the suspended chief justice of Pakistan in Islamabad, and alleged that senior intelligence personnel ordered the action.
Dr Buttar, originally from Lahore but now a United States citizen, is sister of a serving Supreme Court judge, Justice Javed Buttar, and president of the US-based Asian American Network Against Abuse of Human Rights (ANAA).
She says security personnel assaulted and abused her while she was demonstrating peacefully outside the SC building on April 3, and claims to have information, from a high-level personal contact in intelligence, that the action came at the behest of senior authorities in an intelligence agency. She says that these family contacts had previously warned her that her work in highlighting human rights abuses was riling some in Pakistan.
Sources told Daily Times that the American Embassy was also investigating the alleged abuse of the US citizen. Dr Buttar is scheduled to hold a press conference in Lahore today, and plans to formally request the Interior Ministry to identify the culprit and take action.
“I was in the protest against the government for the removal of the chief justice of Pakistan. As the jeep carrying the chief justice passed by the protest, I was in the crowed behind the jeep,” she told Daily Times.
“All of a sudden several people wearing ATS shirts grabbed me. One of them pushed me and I fell down on my knees. After that one ATS man pushed his hand towards my private parts and touched them hardly,” Dr Buttar said.
“I don’t know how I was able to get up and escape,” she said. “I managed to get up and tried to identify that man.” She said many people including Wajiha Mehdi, who is on the chief justice’s defence team, witnessed her maltreatment.
“I went to the superintendent of police who was standing on the side and complained about this incident, but he referred me to a lower grade official, magistrate Dr Ehtsham, who was also there.” The magistrate asked her to approach him later.
“Meanwhile, some intelligence people called up my brother who lives in Australia and asked, ‘What the hell was she doing in Pakistan?’” she said.
She said the incident showed there was no rule of law in Pakistan. “They have been torturing us just because we raise our voices for human rights,” she said.
Dr Buttar said she had previously been warned by top officials in intelligence agencies, through her family contacts, to stop raising human rights abuse issues. She had even been warned that “the intelligence agencies are so active that they could shoot you dead in New York City”.
Dr Buttar’s organisation, ANAA, spotlights human rights issues involving Pakistan across the USA. The NGO supported Mukhtaran Mai, Dr Sahzia and other victims of violence against women in Pakistan.
Dr Buttar came to Pakistan in early March to review ANAA projects here, and joined in the protests for judicial independence after the chief justice was suspended.