SINDH HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS condemn maligning campaign against PILER

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Sindh Human Rights Defenders
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SINDH HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS condemn maligning campaign against PILER, a reputable organization working on human rights since 80s- demand end to reputable institutions and action against irresponsible section of media.

Sindh Human Rights Defenders, a provincial human rights defenders network, strongly condemns the maligning of a Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), branding it as an ‘Indian agent’. SHRD expressed serious concern on such campaign against an institution whose contribution in promotion & protection of human rights, development is exceptional since 1980s.

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Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) has made exceptional contribution to the peoples’ welfare, workers’ rights, and peace in both Pakistan and south Asia. Government of Pakistan must act on this mala-fide act by a selected section of the media against an organization which has always assisted state in implementation of its human rights agenda. These are NGOs helping the state and the Government of Pakistan to fulfill commitments made with UN and international community in the field of peace, development and human rights.

Current campaign against PILER, a reputable organization, by a section of media referring to a report of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is raising following questions:

Has FBR or other agency investigating this issue contacted PILER before sharing it with media?

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If there is any issue against PILER it should be dealt through a legal process when the PILER is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) as a non-for-profit company under the Companies Ordinance 1984 and that mechanism provide an option that any concern could be raised through the SECP. Character assassination campaign against a rights-nbased organization orking on protection of labour rights since 80s is not fair.  Sindh Human Rights Defenders comprising of hundreds of human rights organization from Sindh province condemn such campaign as an illegal and immoral act against a reputable NGO.

This smearing campaign against PILER cannot be seen in isolation, when civil society has already called it a systematic campaign against NGOs whose contribution ranges from promoting constitutional rights, educating citizens in their democratic rights and duties, rescue and relief in disaster and protection of labour rights.

Government of Pakistan must act as an organ of the state whose responsibility is to protect human rights and human rights defenders in Pakistan. We expect the Government to respect the contribution of National NGOs/institutions assisting it in promotion and protection of human rights, acknowledge their role in promoting peace, protecting human rights and assisting in development in the country.

Ms Raheema Panhwar, a development professional from strengthening participatory organization, said we expect the Government and media to respect NGOs contribution and acknowledge it.

Rubina Chandio, a women rights defender from Larkana condemned the maligning campaign against PILER and appreciated its role in protection of human rights.

A B Arisar said: if there is any report by FBR should be shared with public and acts of harassment should be stopped.

Haleem Soomro from Umerkot said: PILER contribution to human rights peace and development is marvelous and it must be appreciated by media and the state.

Razak Umrani, human rights activist from Hyderabad, said the role of PILER working on peace in South Asia is appreciable and it should not be tarnished through systematic campaign. We stand with PILER.

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Ali Palh, human rights law and activist said this campaign against PILER cant not be seen in isolation and we see an act part of chain and continuation against NGOs and rights activist as a policy and will amount to hate speech which will incite violence against NGOs and activists and put their lives at risk must be stopped immediately. He further added that Karamat, head of PILER, is a guide and symbol of honor for all human rights defenders.

Mr. Krishan Sharma, a minority rights activist condemned this act and demand action against media personel and channels involved in it.

Mr. Noor Bajeer, head of CSSP, a human rights organization, expressed solidarity with PILER and condemned the maligning act and campaign.

Mr Mustafa Balach and Haseen Musrat call it a irresponsible act of sleected section of media which wants to malign reputation of a credible organization.

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Zulfiqar Halepoto, a writer media analyst and activist urged the media to refrain from undermining the work of reputable organizations.

Jamil Hussain, a human rights defender and researcher said:

“Global Civil Society has occupied significant place in the global governance process which was traditionally occupied few world financial institutions. And local civil society organizations are the integral and most important part of global civil society. Government of Pakistan should acknowledge the role of civil society in Pakistan and should encourage it rather than hatching conspiracies against it. Additionally, in current era economy of civil society has emerged as new aspect on global scene. Various aid programs are conditioned with respect and promotion of human rights and its actors. Pakistan should look beyond its myopic outlook and should think beyond its adhoc approach. It should respect the civil society organizations including PILER and stop maligning these.Otherwise it would loose much at global level.”

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Other activists Punhal Sario, Kapil Dev, Zulfiqar Shah, Zulfiqar Halepoto, Ilyas Thari, Amar Sindhu, Ali Palh, Qurat Mirza, Aslam Laghari, Rozeena Bhutto, Zareena Nawaz, Jaffar Memon, Ishaque Mangrio, Veerjee Kolhi, Nobahar Wasan, Beenish Zia, Mashooq from Dadu, Ikhtiar Tunio, Kashif Bajeer, Ashothama, Radha Bheel, Abdullah Khoso, Amar Sindhu, Arfana Mallah, Ali Rahimoon, Murad Pandhrani Jami Chandio, Jamil Hussain, Abbas Khoso, Shoukat Soomro, Shoukat Memon, Mahesh Sindh other gathered and condemned the dirty campaign against a reputable organization by a selected section of media.

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PILER’s Position

Here is PILER’s version
Here is PILER’s version
26 November 2015

This is with reference to the current smear campaign against PILER initiated by a private TC channel 92 HD which has alleged that “PILER has been working through the funds received from the Indian Intelligence Agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)”.

Before we present our response to the allegations, let us reiterate that PILER, since its inception in 1982, has aimed to promote a democratic and effective labour movement. For the last 33 years, PILER has facilitated training and education for effective mobilization of workers. It has endeavored to provide people’s organizations and movements with timely research and documentation and has engaged in effective policy advocacy.

Another important area of work has been peace and conflict resolution, for PILER considers militarization, state conflicts and social intolerance as major barriers to realizing labour rights, and engages with the national, regional and global peace movements.
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PILER is active in a number of peace initiatives at the regional level, particularly the SAARC countries. Since 1990s, PILER has played a key role in the emergence and continuity of several initiatives and actively participates in many people-to-people initiatives. PILER has provided input to many collaborative research and advocacy activities on labour, development and peace issues. PILER representatives have participated as resource person in many conferences, seminars and consultations held in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. PILER has facilitated regional delegations comprising scholars, labour activists, politicians and media persons.

PILER is registered itself under the Companies Ordinance 1984 (Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan). The PILER Board comprises distinguished and well-known legal experts, academics, development practitioner and media person, including Justice (Rtd.) Majida Rizvi, Justice (Rtd.) Rasheed A. Rizvi, Dr. Saba Gul Khattak, Dr. Jaffer Ahmed, Dr. Riaz Ahmed, Mohammad Tahseen and Sheen Farrukh.

During the last 33 years, PILER has been supported financially by a number of international organizations from the European Union, the USA and Australia.

Now we come to our present concern which is a report by TV Channel 92 HD aired on 21 November 2015 evening and subsequently highlighted by a section of print media.

According to this mala fide and malicious report, PILER is a “RAW agent”. According to the mala fide report, this ‘fact’ has been revealed by a “…report of the Intelligence and Investigation Unit, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).”

It is to be noted that the FBR has not shared this or any other report or document with PILER and neither it has approached PILER with any query till today.

The report by 92 HD is based on false allegations and twisted facts as explained below:

Allegation No. 1:

TV channel 92 HD said that “The Indian High Commissioner supervises PILER affairs. He himself visited PILER office.”

PILER Response: It is absolutely incorrect that the Indian High Commissioner ‘supervises PILER affairs”. The Indian High Commissioner is a foreign diplomat and has nothing to do with PILER. It is true that the Indian High commissioner visited PILER, but only on one specific occasion, on 4 February 2014. The channel deliberately omitted the context of the visit. Here it is:

High Commissioner of India in Islamabad, Dr. T. C. A. Raghavan, was invited by PILER to the Plaque Unveiling Ceremony in February 2014. The event was organized to dedicate a block of PILER Centre to Didi Nirmala Deshpande (1929-2008) who was a Member of the Indian Rajya Sabha (upper house), a well-known social activist and a dedicated advocate of peace between two countries i.e. India and Pakistan. Didi Nirmala Deshpande was admired in Pakistan because of her message of love and advocate of people-to-people contact.

It is to be noted that Nirmala Deshpande was posthumously conferred the ‘Sitara-e-Imtiaz’, Pakistan’s second highest civilian award, for promoting peace between the two countries on 23 March 2010. Nirmala Deshpande, who died on May 1, 2008, was honoured for her contribution in promoting peace and friendship between India and Pakistan.

Allegation No. 2: “Ms. Farhat Fatima, a PILER’s employee, is receiving money from a state hospital in Jharkand.”

PILER Response: PILER refutes this allegation vehemently. Ms. Farhat Fatima, PILER Research Associate, is not receiving money from any state hospital in Jharkand, India. The truth is as follow:

In 2013, PILER was approached by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, to facilitate collection of material on labour in Pakistan. In April 2013 PILER signed a contract with the International Institute for Social History to facilitate its South Asia Desk for the collection of material on labour history from Pakistan.

PILER assigned Ms. Farhat Fatima the responsibility. PILER was paid remuneration for this responsibility for 2 days a week from April 2013 up to December 2014 by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, on instruction from Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, the International Institute of Social History South Asia Regional Representative who was stationed in Ranchi, Jharkand. The regional office in India is located in the premises of the Central Institute of Psychiatry, Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkand, where Dr. Kathinka’s husband works. The document clearly showed that the grant money was sent by the Institute of International Social History, Amsterdam, to PILER, and not by Dr. Kathinka Sinha-Kerkhoff, who herself is an employee of the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.

Allegation No. 3: PILER is receiving funds from Indian NGOs.

PILER Response: This is incorrect. PILER is not receiving funds from Indian NGOs. The Indian NGOs, like other NGOs in the developing countries, themselves receive funds from the NGOs in the western countries and are not in a position to fund foreign NGOs.

The fact is that PILER has contributed thrice to regional research studies, focusing on Pakistan, undertaken by HomeNet South Asia (HNSA), a network of home-based workers in South Asian countries of India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The head office of the network is located in Delhi, India. PILER is a member of both HomeNet South Asia and HomeNet Pakistan. PILER received service charges for these one-time research contributions from HomeNet South Asia, Delhi, India.

Allegation No.4: TV channel 92 HD maliciously referred to PILER’s ‘receiving money from Global South’.

PILER Response: PILER is not receiving funds from Global South. The facts are as follow:

The Focus on Global South head quartered in Thailand, is a network established in 1995 to challenge neoliberalism, militarism and corporate-driven globalisation while supporting just and equitable alternatives. PILER is not a member of Focus on Global South. PILER aligns with its ideology and supports its mission. PILER is a member of Peoples SAARC network which organizes parallel civil society event to official SAARC summits. PILER facilitates Pakistan delegation’s participation to these events. Global South provided donations for air travel of Pakistan delegation to the Peoples SAARC parallel meeting held in Dhaka in 2012.

This campaign, aimed at damaging the reputation, good will and trust created by PILER through 33 years of hard work, commitment and tangible services to labour and development, is an attack on the entire civil society of Pakistan and all its national and grass-roots organizations who are striving for a just, equitable and peaceful development.

PILER has filed a legal notice to the TC channel 92 HD. It is now sending a letter to the Federal Board of Revenew, demanding access to the said ‘report’ and related documents it shared with the channel. PILER, supported by civil society organization across Pakistan, political parties’ representatives and concerned citizens, demands setting up of the Parliamentary Committee to investigate the mala fide report and put to task the channel 92 HD.

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Comments
  1. shuja98 says:

    Thanks a lot Ali.

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