AI statement/21 July 2010

From Amnesty International: “End Detention of JK Lawyers

“The Jammu and Kashmir state government must immediately end the preventive detention of the leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Amnesty International said today.”

“Mian Abdul Qayoom, the President of the Bar Association and Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, its General Secretary, have been arbitrarily detained under the J&K Public Safety Act (PSA) since 7 July and 18 July 2010 respectively.”

“The vaguely formulated PSA allows for detentions of up to two years without charge or trial on the presumption that future acts harmful to the state may be committed.”

“The detention of the Bar Association leaders appears to be an attempt to stifle legitimate and peaceful protest, as part of the ongoing crackdown by the authorities in parts of Kashmir,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific Director at Amnesty International.”

“The official grounds of detention against Mian Qayoom state that he is being detained for questioning the conduct of government security forces and for his political views.”

“Reports indicate the General Secretary of the Bar Association, Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, is being detained on similar grounds as well as for organizing public rallies seeking the release of Mian Qayoom.”

“The arbitrary use of the PSA to detain government critics is yet another demonstration of why this law must be repealed,” Zarifi said.”

“A number of political leaders have also been recently detained including Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, and his aides Mohammad Ashraf Sahrai, Ayaz Akbar, Mohammad Yousuf Mujahid and Zafar Akbar Bhat. Prominent Kashmiri leaders including Shabbir Shah and Nayeem Ahmed Khan also continue to remain in detention under the PSA.”

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