Islamabad, Wednesday, January 11, 2017: Bytes for All, Pakistan is distressed to note that the start of the year 2017 has brought with it the enforced disappearances of number of vocal bloggers and activists. While the exact number of the missing persons and details around their abductions is unknown, there are reasons to suspect that this growing number is a result of a meticulously planned crackdown against those who question the state and demand restoration of their rights.
Pakistan’s previous record in providing safety to activists, journalists, and other civil society members who have been critical of state’s policies and growing religious radicalisation is far from encouraging. A large number of such individuals have been routinely censored, intimidated, surveilled and attacked in the past, which has directly contributed to the narrowing of spaces for peaceful expression, debate, protest, and exercise of civil
In the most recent set of instances, despite promises, the state has failed to provide more information about these disappearances, let alone safely recover these individuals. This is unacceptable. In the past, such blatant state apathy and arrogance towards its citizens has only led to undesirable conflict and rebellion of the repressed masses.
It is high time for the state to honour its sacred social contract with its people. Adding voice to the widespread protests across the country, we demand that the state utilizes all of its resources to not only safely return these bloggers and activists to their families, but also ensure that such heinous acts of oppression do not repeat.
About Bytes for All, Pakistan:
Bytes for All (B4A), Pakistan is a human rights organization and a network of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) professionals and practitioners. It experiments and organizes debate on the relevance of ICTs for sustainable development and strengthening social justice movements in the country. Its mission is “ICTs for development, democracy and social justice”. www.bytesforall.pk