This is a press release from Peter Tatchell
“Instead of hosting General Musharraf, SOAS should be cooperating with human rights groups to have him arrested and put on trial in The Hague,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
He was commenting on the decision of London’s prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) to invite Musharraf to address students today at 2pm in the Brunei Galley.
“The former Pakistani military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, overthrew a democratically elected government and seized power in a military coup in 1999.
“Professor Paul Webley, Director of SOAS, has defended inviting Musharraf, despite compelling evidence that his regime waged a brutal war against the people of Balochistan, including the indiscriminate aerial bombardment of civilian areas, extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture and detention without trial.
“I doubt that SOAS would give a platform to Nick Griffin, David Duke or an advocate of apartheid or slavery. In the name of free speech, did SOAS similarly fete General Pinochet, Pol Pot or Ratko Mladic? Why the double standards?
“It is matter of grave concern to the people of Balochistan that a renowned university such as SOAS, which is in the forefront of promoting the human, cultural and civil rights of people around the world, is hosting this former dictator and alleged war criminal.
“General Musharraf led a heinous tyranny that terrorised the people of Pakistan, especially the citizens of Balochistan and Sindh.
“His regime was repeatedly condemned for gross human rights violations by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
“The list of crimes allegedly committed by General Musharraf’s regime include:
- “Collusion with the murder of Benazir Bhutto. An anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi has issued a warrant for Musharraf’s arrest in connection with her assassination.
- “War crimes in Balochistan including the killing, disappearance and displacement of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.
- “The assassination of veteran Baloch national leaders Nawab Akbar Bugti and Mir Balach Marri.
- “The abduction and detention without trial of Dr Safdar Sarki, a US citizen and a former chairman of World Sindhi Congress.
- “The illegal deposing of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the arrest of dozens of judges and lawyers and the murder of the Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Hamad Raza.
- “The protection and promotion of jihadist groups and the Taliban in Balochistan, Sindh and the Pashtun tribal areas, giving them free rein to suppress nationalist, democratic and secular movements,” said Mr Tatchell.