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Pakistan police use batons, tear gas to stop march to Chaudhry residence

[JURIST] Pakistani police used batons and tear gas Monday against protesters attempting to march to the Islamabad residence of ousted Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry [JURIST news archive], still under virtual house arrest despite the December 15 lifting of President Pervez Musharraf's declaration of emergency rule. Some 200 lawyers, students and activists chanting anti-Musharraf slogans and calling for the reinstatement of Pakistan's ousted superior court judges were blocked by police and a clash broke out which last about 45 minutes, according to AFP. Police made 21 arrests and 14 police officers were hurt; some media reports claim that as many as 30 people, including protesters, were injured. A rights activist speaking to AFP said the police attack on the demonstrators was unprovoked, but police sources said the demonstrators started pelting police with stones. This was the first serious outbreak of violence since emergency rule was lifted.

Reacting to news of the police action, Chaudhry was quoted as saying that it was "a barbaric act committed by police and other agencies by torturing peaceful demonstrators. Peaceful protest is the right of every citizen of Pakistan as freedom of expression is enshrined under the 1973 Constitution." AFP has more. PTI has additional coverage.

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