LAHORE - People have questioned the authorities’ commitment to defend their rights, on the Human Rights Day.

Carrying out a rally at The Mall yesterday, people belonging to the most marginalised segments of the society including labourers, brick kiln workers, transgender people, differently-abled and religious minorities demanded immediate measures to ensure fair treatment, equal opportunities in education, jobs and other matters of public life.

The rally, held under the auspices of Centre for Human Rights Education-Pakistan, Civil Society Network, and PAHEL Pakistan in collaboration with other civil society groups and organisations, also called for the right to justice, quality education, proper health facilities, safe drinking water and clean and safe environment.

The participants chanted slogans against the discrimination on various grounds and against the government’s failure in defending their rights.

Speaking on the occasion, Director of the Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan Mr Samson Salamat said: “International Human Rights Day is a reminder for our government and the state institutions that the implementation of human rights standards and principles is a key for a better society.

“Therefore human rights should be given a priority to make our society a human rights friendly society where all citizens are treated equally without any discrimination.”

Mr Salamat regretted that the situation of human rights was getting worst day by day which is a matter of grave concern. “The fundamental freedoms including the freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, association and freedom of religion and belief are under threat in Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Abdullah Malik, the president of Civil Society Network, said that it is the constitutional responsibility of the government and the state institutions to provide equal rights to all the citizens without any discrimination on the basis of cast, colour or creed. “The government and the state institutions are duty-bound to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities and end all forms of discriminations from the society and ensure equal treatment, especially with the persons belonging to the religious minorities who are frequently attacked and persecuted,” he stated.

Mr Deedar Ahmed Mirani, chief executive of PAHEL Pakistan, said that the attitude and policies of the current government towards the civil society organisations and human rights defenders was quite disturbing, which has direct impact on the civil liberties of citizens. “We urge the government to introduce the policies friendly towards the civil society,” he said.

The other prominent human rights defenders including Rt. Rev. Bishop Mano Ruman Shah, Rwadari Tehreek Secretary General Umar Farooq, Pastor Emmanuel Khokhar, Hanif Anjum (President of Association of Private Schools International), Ms Arooma Shahzad (Chairperson of All Pakistan Workers Confederation), Sohail Ahmed Raza (Director Interfaith, Minhaj-ul-Quran), Rashid Bashir Chatha (Senior Vice President Rwadari Tehreek), Ms Sabira Asmat (President Women Concern Network) and Ms Komal Patras (Coordinator of Rwadari Tehreek), and Mr Rana Irfan (Spokes Person Rwadari Tehreek) were also present on the occasion.

CM message: Protection of the rights of citizens is the responsibility of the state, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said yesterday.

In his message on the International Day of Human Rights, the chief minister said that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave an everlasting message of human rights to the entire humanity in his last sermon.

“Islam gives lesson of supremacy of social justice and high values of peace. Islam is the custodian of human rights and advises equality and peaceful co-existence” the CM said.

Highlighting the value of upholding human rights in a civilized society, Shahbaz said: “Lawlessness and chaos take over where rights are denied.

“The societies lose their existence which usurps rights of the citizens.”