Categories: Press Releases Leave a comment

CONGRESSMAN SHERMAN SENDS LETTER EXPRESSING STRONG CONCERNS ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS IN SINDH

Washington, DC – Recently, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) sent a letter to Alice G. Wells, the Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and David Hale, the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan expressing strong concerns about human rights in Sindh.

Sherman is joined by Representatives Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and Adam Schiff (D-CA).

The letter raises concerns about enforced disappearances, religious extremist attacks, and forced conversions.  The letter also urges the State Department to place a priority on human rights and democracy in its interactions with the Government of Pakistan.

Sherman is Chair of the Congressional Sindh Caucus, and Ranking Member on the Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

Transcript of the letter:

Dear Acting Assistant Secretary Wells and Ambassador Hale:

We write to express our concerns about human rights violations in the Sindh province of Pakistan. With the United States undertaking a review of policy toward Pakistan, and the recent political leadership changes in that country, we urge you to place a priority on human rights and democracy in your interactions with the Government of Pakistan.

The State Department notes that “we have a broad multi-faceted partnership with Pakistan,”  but we must ensure that human rights are a priority. In 2016, Amnesty International reported that Pakistani security forces “committed human rights violations with almost total impunity,”  while Human Rights Watch observed that “law enforcement and security agencies remained unaccountable for human rights violations.”  The State Department itself noted that, in Pakistan, “the most serious human rights problems were extrajudicial and targeted killings; disappearances; torture; lack of rule of law…; gender inequality; violence against gender and sexual minorities; and sectarian violence.”

We are concerned about a number of ongoing human rights violations in Sindh. First, advocates for political and social rights are taken into custody and imprisoned on questionable grounds.  Just recently, a leading Pakistani daily wrote about continuing “enforced disappearances of political activists in the province” of Sindh.

Second, the people of Sindh face religious extremist attacks. Sindh has historically welcomed peoples of all faiths and ethnicities, and is home to significant communities of Christians, Sufis, and Hindus. Yet religious extremism, and the government’s unwillingness or inability to curb groups linked to extremism, contribute to violence, including against minorities. For instance, in February this year, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sufi shrine in Sindh that killed over 80 people.

Third, there are forced conversions of Sindhi girls belonging to minority communities. While the numbers are unclear, reports suggest that every year, over 1,000 girls and young women in Pakistan, including many in Sindh, are forcibly converted upon marriage.  The Pakistani government has not done enough to stop this practice, and reform measures are circumvented or not enforced.

We urge you to work with the Government of Pakistan to seek the release of persons held on false charges in Sindh, to protect religious freedoms of the Sindhi people, to end the forced conversions of minority Sindhi girls and women, and to take stronger steps upholding human rights in Sindh.

Sincerely,

 

Brad Sherman

Member of Congress

 

Carolyn Maloney

Member of Congress

 

Adam Schiff

Member of Congress

 

Barbara Comstock

Member of Congress

 

Dana Rohrabacher

Member of Congress

 

Eleanor Holmes Norton

Member of Congress

 

Trent Franks

Member of Congress

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *