BERLIN: Amnesty International has launched a campaign to press Pakistani authorities to stop “persecuting” peaceful protesters of Pashtun march and reverse any legal action(s) against the campaign organisers across the country. Amnesty International (AI) Germany chapter has expressed concerns over government of Pakistan “booking the campaigners seeking recovery of their lost loved ones and action against those involved in extrajudicial killings and abductions of political activists in different parts of the country mainly Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh”. The protest movement started with extrajudicial killing of a Pashtun man, Naqeebullah Mehsud, allegedly under the supervision of now-arrested Malir SSP Rao Anwar. However, families, relatives and rights activists from different parts of the country, who were already looking for their loved ones who might have been victims of enforced disappearances, have also joined the movement seeking recovery of innocent political activists and fair trial of those found involved in any illegal activities. AI has also called upon a conference of human rights activists to discuss the ongoing human rights situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The event will take place in April in the city of Darmstadt where rights activists will brief their colleagues, influential Europeans and general public about the issue of enforced disappearances and refugee crisis in the region. AI activists and European citizens would be writing to Pakistan authorities, including Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, Pakistan Ambassador in Berlin Jauhar Saleem, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddos Bizenjo, Balochistan Police Inspector General Moazzam Jah Ansari and others to stop any “retaliation” against peaceful Pashtun marchers. AI demanded that any criminal cases against protest organisers such as Manzoor Pashteen, Haji Hidayatullah, Aali Wazir, Khan Zaman Kakar, Nawab Ayaz Khan Jogezai and others be suspended with immediate effect, “as they were merely exercising their basic right to protest in a peaceful manner”. AI also urged the government of Pakistan to respect and protect the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful gathering. AI also wants the government to adopt and implement legislation, which recognises and protects human rights defenders; and repeal or amend legislation that violates the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association or place obstacles in the way of legitimate activities to promote and defend human rights. In a statement, AI noted that the first information report was registered by Qilla Saifullah police in Balochistan on March 13 against Manzoor Pashteen, Haji Hidayatullah, Ali Wazir, Khan Zaman Kakar, and Nawab Ayaz Khan Jogezai. “The men were accused of provoking an uprising between different groups,” the statement added. Since February 2018, the movement has been attracted thousands of participants during sit-ins in Islamabad and elsewhere in the country. At that time, the civilian government had promised to listen to the demands of demonstrators. However, the movement continued to spread across the country amid government’s failure to address the rightful demands of demonstrators. Published in Daily Times, March 26th 2018.