SPARC is saddened to announce the loss of its Board Member and former Chairperson, Rashid Rehman Khan, age 55. He was gunned down in his office at the District Courts, Multan, by unidentified assailants on Wednesday, May 7.
Rashid had received death threats owing to the fact that he was the legal counsel for a man accused of blasphemy. During a hearing of the case on April 9 at Multan Central Jail, a threat was made to Rashid’s life. Rashid had informed the district administration of Multan, the district police officer, the judiciary and the bar associations of the country about the threats. Regardless, no protection was provided and on the night of May 7, unidentified gunmen opened fire on Rashid, his fellow lawyer and a client in their private chambers.
The burial took place on Thursday, May 8 at GPO ground, Dera Adda Chowk, Multan.
Rahsid Rehman was born on October 13, 1958, in Tipu Colony, Multan, to Mr. and Mrs. Ashfaq Ahmed Khan. He began practicing law in 1986; and also became a member of the Punjab Bar Council. He eventually became an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Rashid was the Secretary-General for Amnesty International, Pakistan, from 1992 to 1994. Then in 1996, he joined Amnesty International again as the National Campaign Coordinator. From 1996 onwards, he joined the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) as a Coordinator for the Special Task Force Multan. He also worked as an election observer for the HRCP. On a few occasions, he cooperated with Acid Survivors Foundation Pakistan to provide legal support to acid attack victims and survivors. Rashid was also a current active member of SPARC’s Board of Directors and was the Chairperson of the Board in 2013.
Rashid was not only a notable lawyer but a passionate human rights advocate who played an active role in the civil society of Pakistan by providing a voice to the vulnerable. Friends and colleagues of Rashid described him as a cheerful, compassionate and courageous man.
His family wrote: “He was a man of justice and humanity and for it he sacrificed his life. He will always be in our hearts and memories. We love you a lot.”
He is survived by his wife, his aged mother, two brothers, two sisters, and his wards - nephews and nieces, and family. He was preceded in death by his father, Ashfaq Ahmed Khan.
Rashid Rehman was a wise, brave and committed man. SPARC’s condolences go out to Mr. Rehman’s family and friends in this trying time.
47 Human Rights Organisations Across Asia Strongly Condemn the Killing of Mr. Rashid Rehman
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), together with its 47 member organisations from Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Timor Leste, strongly condemn the killing of Mr. Rashid Rehman, a prominent human rights defender and lawyer in Pakistan and a coordinator of FORUM-ASIA's member organisation in Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).
Mr. Rehman was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Multan, Pakistan on 7 May 2014. The gunmen entered his office and opened fire indiscriminately, resulting in his death and severely injuring two of his associates. Mr. Rehman had received threats over his defence of a professor of a university against charges of blasphemy. Mr. Rehman's organistaion, HRCP, has repeatedly warned of reprisals against Mr. Rehman and threats he was receiving. HRCP had particularly pointed out that the opposing counsel in the said blasphemy case had made threats in the presence of the judge. Despite this, he was denied any protection by the security personnel.
There has been an extremely worrying trend of steep deterioration in the security of human rights defenders in Pakistan over the last one year. The Government's inaction and unwillingness to address attacks by extreme forces and non-state actors has severely compromised the security of human rights defenders.
Journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders working on issues such as democratic space, blasphemy and human rights violations by security forces are particularly targeted. The growing intolerance towards dissent and rising impunity has created a climate of fear, making it impossible for human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate work. Earlier this month a senior journalist was shot by unidentified men.
Pakistan has long faced breakdowns in its democratic institutions and processes. If the media and human rights defenders are unable to contribute towards building a tolerant society, any progress that has been made will only be reversed.
FORUM-ASIA and its member organisations thus urge the Government of Pakistan to immediately investigate into the killing of Mr. Rehman and and ensure that all those involved are held fully accountable with the full force of law. The Government must also take immediate and concrete measures to ensure that attacks on human rights defenders.
Asian Forum for Human Rights of Development (FORUM-ASIA), on behalf its following member organisations:
1. ASK - Ain O Salish Kendra
2. MLAA - Madaripur Legal Aid Association
4. RIC - Resource Integration Center Burma
5. HREIB - Human Rights Education Institute of Burma
6. ADHOC - Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association
7. LICADHO - Cambodia League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights
8. ADHIKAR - Center for Social Action Documentation Research & Training
9. Dalit Foundation
10. FARR - Friends' Association for Rural Reconstruction
11. MASUM - Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
12. PW - People's Watch
13. PVCHR - People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights
14. RDS-LRSA - Rural Development Society
15. SICHREM - South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring
16. AJI - The Alliance of Independent Journalists Indonesia
17. HRWG - Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy - Human Rights Working Group
18. IMPARSIAL - Inisiatif Masyarakat Partisipatif untuk Transisi Berkeadilan
19. KontraS - The Federation of Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence
20. PBHI - Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association
21. SAMIN - Yayasan Sekretariat Anak Merdeka Indonesia
22. YLBHI - Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation Malaysia
23. ERA Consumers - Education and Research Association for Consumers
24. SUARAM - Suara Rakyat Malaysia Mongolia
25. CHRD - Center for Human Rights and Development
26. GI - Globe International
27. CSRC - Community Self Reliance Centre
28. INSEC - Informal Sector Service Center
29. WWS - Women's Welfare Society
30. B4A - Bytes for All (ICTs for development, democracy and social justice)
31. HRCP - Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
32. NCJP - National Commission for Justice and Peace
33. PODA - Potahar Organization for Development Advocacy
34. SPARC - Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child
35. PAHRA - Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
36. PLRC - PILIPINA Legal Resources Center
37. TFDP - Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
38. Tanggol-Kalikasan - Public Interest Environmental Law Office Singapore
39. Think Centre
40. KHIS - Korean House for International Solidarity
41. PSPD - People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
42. INFORM - Information Monitor
43. LST - Law and Society Trust
44. TAHR - Taiwan Association for Human Rights
45. People's Empowerment
46. HAK Association - Perkumpulan Hukum, Hak Asasi dan Keadilan (Law, Basic Rights, and Justice Foundation)
47. JSMP - Judicial System Monitoring Programme