News & Politics

Email from Pakistan: ‘We Were Taken to the Central Jail’

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Former Voice staffer Jim Sosnicky passed along this email from his friend, Alia Ali, an Oxford-educated doctor living in Lahore, who was rounded up and locked down in Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf’s state-of-emergency military crackdown on his opposition.

Ali wrote from detention:

On Sunday 3 November 2007, around 70 people collected peacefully inside the human rights commission office in garden town Lahore to discuss the declaration of emergency the day before. The group included lawyers, educators, doctors, and civil society members. The premises were surrounded by heavy police force. First the journalists were removed from the meeting room, then the rest were arrested. One activist, Ayra (female), and Iqbal Haider (secretary HRCP) were manhandled.

We were taken to model town jail. No one seemed to know what would be done with us. No charges were made, but we were detained. The state of the station and toilets was deplorable. My phone was taken after i talked to the BBC and GeoTV very briefly. Some people managed to hide cell phones on them and would send and receive news periodically.

We were to be removed to another location but there were people outside with a candle-lit vigil who did not let the vehicles enter and they were forced to return.

Later we were removed at 4 am to three houses under house arrest. The next morning we were taken to court before a magistrate and denied bail—for bailable charges. And we were taken to the central jail where all criminals are taken.

After a harrowing many hours we are back in house arrest. We have women ranging from twenties to sixties. Men from thirties to seventies. We are all peace-loving professionals, decent citizens—concerned with the prevailing state of things. All we want is:

reversal of emergency

return of civil rights and liberties

release of innocent citizens

I don’t know how long i will have Internet access, so i cannot add the color and the personal stories as I want word out asap. Please pressure your governments and the Pakistani government to release innocent people, and reestablish civil rights.

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