HRW: Pakistan police carried out mass arrests of political opposition News
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HRW: Pakistan police carried out mass arrests of political opposition

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement Saturday claiming that Pakistani police have carried out mass arrests of over 4,000 people, including opposition party members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), in the wake of protests over the detention of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. This statement has been corroborated by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Khan himself, who have condemned the crackdown.

HRW called for the release of those arbitrarily arrested while emphasizing the distinction between those who engaged in peaceful and non-peaceful political action after Khan’s detention. HRW’s Asia Director, Patricia Grossman, stated, “[t]he Pakistani authorities should end their arbitrary arrests of political opposition activists and peaceful protesters. Anyone committing violence should be appropriately charged and their due process rights respected.”

Authorities had previously attempted to arrest Khan in March on corruption charges, sparking a prior wave of protests and mass arrests. The most recent protests began on May 9th after Khan was arrested in Islamabad outside of court. Protests continued after a May 13th address from Khan where he encouraged supporters to fight for their freedom. Khan has since claimed that the violence that ensued from the recent wave of protests was “a planned conspiracy” and that he has “video evidence of gun wielding provocateurs inciting our people.”

Khan is alleged to have received a bribe in the form of land during his tenure as Prime Minister and was forced out of office in April 2022 with a vote of no confidence after attempting to dissolve parliament. He has a history of tension with the Pakistani military, culminating in the recent unrest. The Pakistani Supreme Court has declared Khan’s arrest “invalid and unlawful.”