Nov 8, 2007

Solidarity Vigil/ New York Rally: Tuesday Nov 13

From President of the New York City Bar Association Barry Kamins

As an expression of solidarity with our beleaguered colleagues at the Pakistani bar, the New York City Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and the New York County Lawyers' Association, in conjunction with other organizations, invite you to attend a public rally in front of the

New York County Courthouse, 60 Centre Street
on Tuesday, November 13,
from 1:00-1:30 p.m.

The crude and brutal suspension of law and the legal system in Pakistan, and the repression of judges and lawyers there, require that we take a moment from our own busy schedules and demonstrate our concern.

Because the images from Pakistan show the violent repression of Pakistani lawyers wearing their customary dark suit and white shirt, we request that you appear on Tuesday in similar attire, though this is not required. What is important is a strong show of support.

We hope to see you there.

Co-sponsored by Amnesty International

Closest trains: J, M, Z, 1, 2, 3, A, C to Chambers 4, 5, 6, R, W to City Hall

Acting in his capacity as army chief of staff, General Musharraf suspended the bulk of the constitution, acquired powers to amend it without any parliamentary procedure and proclaimed a Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO).

This order prohibits any court issuing an order against the President, Prime Minister or any person exercising powers under their authority. Under the order, existing members of the superior judiciary are effectively suspended until they take a new oath to uphold the PCO. Only five of 17 Supreme Court Justices have taken the oath. Many Supreme Court and Provincial High Court Justices are now effectively under house arrest.

These measures came on the eve of a Supreme Court hearing to rule on petitions contesting General Musharraf's eligibility to contest presidential elections held on October 6. Lawyers who were counsels in the petitions including President of the Supreme Court bar association Aitzaz Ahsan, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Munir A. Malik and retired Justice Tariq Mahmood were immediately arrested. These lawyers had been leading a movement to uphold the independence of the judiciary since President Musharraf suspended the former Chief Justice of Pakistan on March 9.

Amnesty International considers the military crackdown in Pakistan to represent a direct assault on international law and human rights standards enshrined in the country's own constitution. Amnesty International calls for the immediate return to constitutional rule and the release of many hundreds of people detained under the current measures. Bypassing the constitution's provisions in declaring a state of emergency, General Musharraf suspended the right not to be arbitrarily deprived of life, as well as key elements of the right to a fair trial. Under international law and human rights standards--enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan--these rights must be fully and unconditionally respected in all circumstances, whether or not a public emergency exists.

Amnesty International fears that this assault on key institutions of accountability, combined with sweeping emergency powers, will exacerbate existing patterns of human rights abuse, including torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and use of excessive force to suppress peaceful dissent.

Matthew Kennis
Northeast Regional OfficeAmnesty International

"In a democratic society, some are guilty, but indeed all are responsible."

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