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Pakistan: Government must take stern action against the attackers on Malala Yousufzai and protect all human rights defenders

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(Bangkok, 10 October 2012) Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) condemns the brutal attack on young human rights defender Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan. The regional human rights organization that represents 49 human rights organizations in 17 Asian countries urges the Government of Pakistan to take effective steps immediately to ensure the protection of human rights defenders from violent attacks of extremist groups.

Malala, along with her two other schoolmates sustained bullet injuries when some unknown assailants opened fire on their school van in Mingora on 9 October 2012, Tuesday. They were immediately rushed to a local hospital before being shifted to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar. Tehreek-e-Taliban, a banned terrorist organization in Pakistan has claimed the responsibility of carrying out the attack further adding that she would not be spared if survived the attack.

The 14 year old Malala has become a symbol of courage and bravery through her uncompromised activism for girl’s education and human rights. She was just 11 when she wrote her diary for BBC Urdu, when Talibans took over Swat Valley and ordered girls’ schools to close. In the diary, written under a pen name- Gul Makai, she exposed the sufferings caused by the militants as they ruled. Her identity only emerged after the Taliban were driven out of Swat and she later was honored with the first ever National Peace Prize by the Government of Pakistan and was also nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by advocacy group KidsRights Foundation in 2011.

“While welcoming the immediate condemnation led by the President and Prime Minister (PM) of Pakistan, the concern remains that for several such attacks and killings of journalists and activists in the recent past, no perpetrators were arrested or brought to justice. Law enforcing agencies have failed miserably in protecting its citizens from the violence perpetrated by terrorists, said Yap Swee Seng, the Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

“This incident once again shows that how risky the country is for the human rights defenders, where extremists operate so freely and brutally even targeting a teenage girl like Malala”, said Yap. “There is an urgent need for the government of Pakistan to take stern actions against such extremist groups in order to show that it is serious in ending impunity of extremist groups in its territory, ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Pakistan later this month at the United Nations Human Rights Council.”

The UPR is a UN mechanism to review human rights record of UN Member State every four years.

FORUM-ASIA joins the whole world in praying for the early recovery of Mala and her injured classmates.

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