Target:
Government of Pakistan
Region:
Pakistan
Website:
www.dawn.com

Dear Friends:

As part of the crackdown on protests against emergency/martial law, the Government of Pakistan recently brought sedition charges against fourteen faculty members of the Punjab University (Lahore, Pakistan). These charges were in response to the faculty members speaking out and organizing a protest walk on their campus against the imposition of emergency rule (martial law) in Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan has also issued a ban on political discussions and debates on campuses, which is a violation of one of the most basic tenets of academic freedom.

Most of you must by now be familiar with the vanguard role played by members of the Pakistani judiciary in the current political struggle against dictatorship. The unprecedented expression of solidarity by members of the international law community has been extremely important in building up the pressure against the Pakistani government, and in keeping up the spirits of the lawyers and their family members. Students (and educators) comprise the next largest group of protesters and so are being targeted in similarly illegal and brutal ways. This is a call to school and college/university faculty, academic unions and organizations to express their solidarity with the above mentioned faculty members of Punjab University as well as all those being targeted by the Pakistani state, and to demand that the government drop these charges immediately.

It should be noted that even when emergency rule is lifted, these and other such charges will not be automatically dropped nor will the dissenting judges be restituted. Please sign the petition and forward to others, and please consider creating faculty/student solidarity committees on your campus, and issuing separate letters of protest and solidarity. It is imperative at this stage to get as many signatures as possible, as well as to send as many letters/faxes/emails to the individuals and institutions listed below as possible. You can sign the petition at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/drop-charges-against-members-of-the-punjab-university.html. Time is of the essence, so please sign the petition and fax your letters ASAP. Your voice counts.

Below are links to three related articles. If you have any questions please email ConcernedAcademicsOfPakistan@gmail.com.

Signed,

Shefali Chandra (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Lubna Chaudhry (SUNY, Binghampton)
Sofia Checa (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Arslan Razmi (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
Rakhshanda Saleem (Harvard Medical School and Lesley University)
Sahar Shafqat (St. Mary's College of Maryland)
Saadia Toor (College of Staten Island, CUNY)

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Sedition case against 14 PU teachers
DAWN, November 22 2007
http://www.dawn.com/2007/11/18/nat11.htm

Political debate banned in colleges
DAWN, November 22 2007
http://www.dawn.com/2007/11/22/nat9.htm

LUMS professors, students charged under MPO
Daily Times, December 05, 2007
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=200712�5story_5-12-2007_pg7_5

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Send your letters/faxes/emails to:

General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf
Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad, Pakistan
Fax: (92) 51-922-1422
Email: CE@pak.gov.pk, president@pak.gov.pk, or via the website http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx


Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC
3517 International Court, NW
Washington DC, 20008
Phone: 202-243-6500, Fax: 202-686-1534
Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani: 202- 243-6500 Ext. 2000 & 2001
Email: ambassador@pakistan-embassy.org & ambassador@embassyofpakistanusa.org

Punjab University Administrators:
Dr. Muhammad Arif Butt
Vice Chancellor, Punjab University
Lahore, Pakistan
Phone: (92) 42-923-1098, Fax: (92) 42-923-1101
E-Mail: vc@pu.edu.pk


Attention:
General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf
Islamabad, Pakistan

Mr. Musharraf:

We, the undersigned, are appalled by the charges brought against 14 faculty members of the Punjab University under sections 124-A, 188, 143/149 and 16-MPO. They have been charged with sedition and provoking the masses against the government for its action of imposing emergency and promulgating the PCO.

The charges against the Punjab University faculty were registered after the said academics organized and participated in demonstrations against the promulgation of emergency and abrogation of the constitution. These were peaceful protests held inside the campus. We demand the withdrawal of the charges against the faculty members of Punjab University.

We are also appalled by the restrictions on academic institutions and civil society in general including the ban on open debate in all colleges and universities, as well as the curbs on constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and association of the citizenry of Pakistan. University campuses are supposed to be the center of political debate and activity, not zones of repressive censorship. The undersigned condemn the curbs on free speech and attempts to silence voices through intimidation and harassment. We also condemn the suspension of the constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and association. The ban on political debates on campuses is a violation of the most basic tenet of academic freedom; we demand that this ban be lifted immediately.

We express solidarity with our colleagues at Punjab University and all those in Pakistan engaged in the just struggle to end the state of emergency and restore the constitution and the rule of law in Pakistan.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned


cc. Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC
Vice Chancellor, Punjab University

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