PAKISTAN: Young women held in military torture cells and forced into sexual slavery
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 12, 2009
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Ms. Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Balochistan province, was arrested in late 2005, and has been held incommunicado in an army torture cell at Karachi, the capital of Sindh province. She has been repeatedly raped by the military officers and is being used as a sex slave, to induce arrested nationalist activists to sign state-concocted confessions.
One man, who was arrested by a state agency and kept in military torture cell almost for nine months, narrated the story of this young woman to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF); nowpublic.com; the International Red Cross; and at Woolwich Court in London. The current whereabouts of the young woman are not known. It has been asserted that women who are fighting for the greater autonomy of Balochistan are being arrested by the state agencies and being forced into sex slavery in their custody.
Mr. Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language television channel, was arrested on April 4, 2006 from Karachi International airport by the state intelligence agencies and transferred to a military torture cell in Karachi for nine months (http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/1666/). He narrated the story of the forced sex slavery of the young teacher Zarina Marri whom he encountered in a military cell. According to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Mr. Munir Mengal witnessed many human rights violations in this military prison. Mengal says that, "a young Balochi woman, Ms. Zarina Marri, was used as a sexual slave by the officers. They even once threw her naked into my cell. I did not know what had happened to this mother of a family who was arrested by the army in our province."
Another Balochi nationalist (name omitted by request), who was arrested by the military intelligence agency twice and kept in military cells in different cities, has confirmed to the AHRC that there were young Balochi females seen at those two torture cells, naked and in distress. The prominent Balochi nationalist leaders say that they know fact that young Balochi women are being arrested, either during or after protest demonstrations on the disappearances and are missing. They also know about the women are sexually abused in the military custody but they cannot say so publically because of their sanctity and harassment of their families.
Mr. Munir Mengal was also tortured and his penis was severely injured when he refused to have sex with Zarina Marri. He told RSF, "on 27th January, 2007 at 6 pm Major Iqrar Gul Niazi (Military Intelligence) called me in his office and showed me some nude pictures, and laughingly told me that you have been a director of a TV channel so certainly you have good relations with actresses."
When he returned to his cell he found porn pictures strewn all over it. Around 12 pm a low-ranking military officer called Subedar brought a female there. She was trembling and weeping. "He threw her on my body and told me, 'You know what to do with her. You are not a child we have to tell what to do with her.'" Mr. Mengal says after half an hour the officer returned, and seeing them sitting apart, abused them and forcibly took off their clothes. Mengal said he was stunned when the woman began praying in the Balochi language. She told Mengal her name was Zarina Marri and that she belongs to the Kohlu area, headquarters of the rebel Marri tribe, a scene of a bloody insurgency that begun in 2005. She said she was a schoolteacher and that the army personnel had abducted her along with her one-year-old.
"They accuse us for spying for the Baluchistan Liberation Army," Zarina Marri said. She begged Mengal to kill her. “I have been undressed several times for them."
Mengal said on the refusal to have sex, the intelligence officials inflicted cuts on his private parts. "I thought I would lose my manhood," he said. Ms. Zarina told to Mengal that she has seen some females in the torture cell but was not allowed to talk with them.
At the time of this incident Colonel Raza of the Pakistani Army was in charge of that cell. After a few days he was transferred to Rawalpindi, Punjab province and Colonel Abdul Malik Kashmiri came as head of the military torture cell.
Mr. Munir Mengal was released from the military torture cell on 4th August 2007 and was held in a civilian jail on August 5th. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives met him in Khuzadar jail, where he provided them with a detailed briefing which they wrote down. The next day their doctor also checked the injured portion of his penis. Mr. Andrew Barterlays, the officer of ICRC who visited Mr. Mengal several times in jail, told Mr. Mengal that until he was out of custody the ICRC could not take up the issue of Zarina Marri, because both their lives would be threatened.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has already reported that 52 torture cells are run by the Pakistan army, please see following link (http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1574/), Karachi was stated to have three military torture cells. The testimony by Mr. Munir Mengal has revealed the most heinous methods of army torture, using young women as sex slaves to induce political opponents to sign the government-concocted confessions of terrorist and anti-state activity.
The AHRC severely condemns the use of women as sex slaves by the Pakistan army and for keeping these women incommunicado. Pakistan is the signatory to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) but women are being used as sex slaves in a gross violation of the Convention by army officers.
The AHRC urges the government of Pakistan to immediately hold a judicial investigation into the women detainees being used as sex slaves by the army officers in their detention centers, and to arrest all the army officers posted in the torture cells; both in Karachi and in the rest of Pakistan. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must be brought before the law. The government should ascertain the whereabouts of the women arrested from Balochistan province who have disappeared after their arrest, including Zarina Marri. It is the duty of the government to search for the missing persons taken by State intelligence agencies, who have held them in torture cells for many years.
Pakistan proudly calls itself the Islamic Democratic State but its rulers appear to lack the courage to bring its own military into check. It is a military that engages in torture and some of the most heinous methods of breaking the spirit of those that it considers the enemy, it is a military that pays no heed to the norms of civilised behaviour and is one that, if not brought to book will convert Pakistan into a barbaric state.
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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
Posted by marga at January 12, 2009 10:23 AM
Asian Human Rights Commission
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Zarina Marri Case A Foreign Sponsored Conspiracy
Against The Innocent People Of Balochistan
Recently a lot has been written on an innocent woman being tortured and kept as a sex slave in the torture cells of Pakistan Army. A fairy tale legend “Zarina Marri” emerging out of the propaganda campaign being sponsored by RAW and few Pakistani brethren who are mistaken that they are somehow serving the cause of Balochi people.
The tale of Mr Munir Mengal’s arrest and torture by Military Intelligence/ Army had been reported by media during his detention in 2006/07/08. However, re-emergence of said issue after a lapse of 10 months of his release from prison, at the time when Pakistan is already a target of Indian propaganda campaign (on acct of 26/11), is astonishing/ intriguing. Mr Munir Mengal has added spice to his tale alleging that a Baloch woman was offered as sex slave for reasons best known to him. The concocted story has attracted the attention of international media and human rights activists as expected. The whole affair appears to be a malicious campaign to malign the image of Pakistan and its Army/ intelligence agencies in particular.
Allegation of using Zarina Marri as sex slave was first published by RSF web site on 11 Dec 2008. Same news was published on AHRC website on 12 Jan 2009. Subsequently various newspapers published the news each time with additional allegations without mentioning any source or credible evidence.
Mr. Munir Mengal at present is apparently in France from where he is uploading articles on a free Web News Portal “NowPublic.com”. According to the website details, he is member of the said portal since Dec 2008 and has posted 4 venomous articles only after 3 Jan 2009 on various issues aimed at maligning Pakistan and Pakistan Army.
Dr Shazia’s case which sparked the insurgency and counter military operation, occurred on 5/6 Jan 2006. Arrest of a school teacher by Law Enforcement Agencies prior to militancy and Operations by Law Enforcement Agencies is least likely.
DICHOTOMIES / QUESTIONS ARISING FROM THE STORY
The sole source of information is Munir Mengal. No correspondent/ agency have bothered to counter check the details from other sources. The name of RSF’s reporter who claimed to have conducted an interview has not been revealed.
The record of visitors of Khuzdar Jail does not have any entry to the effect that any ICRC representative met Mr Munir Mengal. Though a team of ICRC was granted permission to visit Khuzdar/ Mach and Loralai Jails from 30 Jul to 11 Aug 07, no record exist about the said visit to Khuzdar Jail. However, the record of Mach Jail contains entry of Mr Andrew’s visit which is irrelevant.
According to the RSF report she is referred as a 23 years old school teacher from Kohlu, arrested by Law Enforcement Agencies in late 2005 and shifted to Karachi for use as sex slave by some Military Intelligence setup. Whereas as employees record of EDO Education Kohlu, no woman namely Zarina Marri ever existed in the area as school teacher.
According to local Marri tribesmen in Kohlu, using name of a Marri woman is part of propaganda to humiliate Marri Clan. Some Marris’ are of the opinion the issue has been raised as a conspiracy to create unrest and insurgency in relatively calm and peaceful Marri areas and derail reconciliation process with Khair Buksh Marri.
If at all she was arrested by FC or some intelligence agency, why she was shifted to Karachi for alleged use as sex slave? It is not only illogical but absurd as well.
Mr. Munir Mengal has also made contradictory statements regarding his encounter with Zarina Marri:-
He initially claims that the girl was thrown naked in the cell.
Later (after few sentences) he states that when the Subedar returned and found them sitting apart, he torn their clothes.
Marri Itehad has not conceded to Zarina Marri’s conspiracy and has announced that it is trying to find out the credentials of the said woman and her parents.
On 4th Aug 07, he was handed over to Khuzdar Police. Very next day, representatives of ICRC visited Khuzdar Jail and investigated the torture inflicted on Munir Mengal which is a surprising coincidence. ICRC representative Andrew Bartles-Smith’s credentials are also doubtful. He is a UK national settled in Nepal.
He was detained in Khuzdar Jail for just eleven days. During this short time, he claims to have been visited several times by human rights activists while nobody met him in Quetta jail for almost six months.
The initial news regarding detention and ill treatment of Mr. Munir Mengal was broken by RSF on 11 Dec 2008. The Daily Times broke the news in Pakistan with its edition edited on 11 Dec and published on 12 Dec i.e. with in few hours.
The exaggerated version of said report was re-published by AHRC with a gap of 32 days on the AHRC website on 12 Jan 2009 without indicating any source for additional details. This dichotomy was also pointed out by Asma Jehangir ‘Chair Person HRCP’.
Mr. Munir Mengal never had any article to his credit till 3 Jan 2009; to accredit him as a journalists’ status. However; since that date he has written 4 articles within two weeks, which may not be easy to digest and points to sponsorship. More so the spectrum and range of issues discussed in the articles is also pro Indian.
The inclusion of following subsidiary themes in four articles attributed to Munir Mengal on the website “nowpublic.com” appearing after 3 Jan have strange similarity with Indian propaganda campaign against Pakistan. These propaganda themes are, ‘Islamic fundamentalism/ extremism’, Pak support for Taliban/ Al-Qaida, ‘Pak nuclear bomb threat to Christian and Jewish world’ and Anti Hindu sentiment.
These coincidences suggest possible Indian involvement in propagating this issue ----
The emergence of this scandal with in two weeks of Mumbai blast amidst threats from Indian leaders.
Daily times which broke the news simultaneously along with RSF is well known for Indian sponsorship.
AHRC which has taken up the issue has dubious credentials (leaning) and same has been alleged by HRCP’s Asma Jehangir.
The similarity of views of Munir Mengal and Indian Propaganda Campaign.
The activities of Mr. Andrew Bartles-Smith the much mentioned ICRC representative who allegedly visited Munir Mengal several times have neither been confirmed/ refuted by ICRC. Also, ICRC news and reports on the web do not have any mention of the said visits or disclosures.
The credentials of RSF are also questionable as the site has never raised allegations against Indians in such a blunt manner in case of mishandling/ detention/ missing journalists e.g. Rehmat Ullah Indian Occupied Kashmir (published Daily Rehmat) and Maqbool Sahil are such cases in pt.
The credibility of AHRC reports on Pakistan is also doubtful as three out of its ten members of advisory board are Indians, while one of the directors is also Indian with few others having Indian origin/ Hindus. Amongst the Indians Mr. B. R. P. Bhasker: Reputed Journalist and a Trustee of Vigil India Movement, India is of dubious credentials and suspected to have initiated/ sponsored said story on AHRC forum.
The picture of Zarina Marri, uploaded on www.Gwank.org is also fake. The picture very clearly bears the name “Arash Khan” which is duly marked on the picture. It is suspected that the picture has been retrieved from some other site and subsequently uploaded as Zarina Marri.
Why the initial Missing list of Marri ladies at “Baloch Voice” website never bore Zarina Marri’s name. However, in the recently updated list of 872 missing Balochis, three ladies ref at serial 74, 75 and 76 bear Shah Gul as father whereas their family names are different i.e Alia Khan, Maria Shah, and Zarina Marri. Surprisingly other two sisters of Zarina Marri are missing since 10 Oct 2006, whereas Zarina Marri is missing since 10 Oct 2005 i.e a yr prior, exactly on the same date, which clearly speaks of fabrications and falsehood of the concocted tale.
Posted by A.R.Marri at 4:48 AM