Humanist Society Scotland call for immediate release and return of passport of leading Human Rights Defender

 Gulalai Ismail spoke in Scottish Parliament at Humanist Society Scotland event in May 2018
– Gulalai arrested in Pakistan on return from UK this morning after attending International Humanist meeting in London and meeting with Malala Yousafzai
– Humanist Society Scotland have written to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Pakistan Consulate to call for immediate action

Gulalai Ismail, the human rights activist and educator who mentored Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has been arrested in Pakistan.

Gulalai alongside MSPs and Humansit Society Scotland members at the Scottish Parliament May 2018

Gulalai Ismail is a multiple award-winning human rights defender. She founded Aware Girls in 2002, an organization which works to empower and educate women and girls on rights and leadership in Pakistan. Malala participated in the programme in 2011, the year before her attempted assassination at the hands of a Taliban gunman for her activism.

Gulalai Ismail was arrested this morning (12 October 2018) by the FIA (Federal Investigation Authority) while re-entering the country from the United Kingdom.

Gulalai had been placed on the Exit Control List (a Pakistan state mechanism to prohibit leaving the country), while she was abroad in the UK last week, where she attended Board meetings of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and caught up with her friend Malala at events in the country.

Gulalai spoke to Herald columnist Iain MacWhirter at a Humanist International public event in Edinburgh earlier this year

In an audio file released from the airport, she said: “My name is Gulalai Ismail, I have been arrested as the state and non-state actors have been doing an illegal crackdown on me for human rights activism and raising my voice for peacebuilding. I was coming from London and had landed at the airport when I got to know my name has been put on Exit Control List (ECL).

“I was taken into custody at the airport and then, I was brought to the main branch of FIA for making a speech and taking part in PTM Jalsa in Swabi.

“I think this is an example of how space is shrinking for civil society organisations, for voices who are speaking for civic rights and peacebuilding. This is not an attack on Gulalai Ismail, this is an attack on our civic freedom and liberty to speak out. This is an attack on our freedom of speech.”

Gordon MacRae

Gordon MacRae, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland, said, “This is an extremely concerning attempt to control and restrict the movements of human rights advocates by the Pakistan authorities. We call on politicians right across the political spectrum in Scotland, with any influence in Pakistan to take immediate action and please help our friend and committed Human Rights activist.”

 

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