We are deeply concerned by the news that Professor Muhammad Ismail has been arrested in Pakistan.
Professor Ismail, a retired academic, human rights activist, and father to Gulalai and Saba of Aware Girls, one of our partner organisations in Pakistan, was arrested on 2nd February in the Anti-Terrorism Court in Peshawar following the cancellation of his bail.
We condemn his arrest and call for his immediate and unconditional release.
The Ismail family have for many years experienced intimidation, harassment and an infringement of their human rights. Since 2019, Professor Ismail’s daughter Gulalai has been living in exile in the United States after fleeing Pakistan.
Around the world, space for civil society is shrinking. Human rights defenders and their family members are continually targeted as a means of pressure. This must stop.
We express our full solidarity with the Ismail family, and all those defending human rights around the world.
According to his family, Professor Ismail has recently tested positive for COVID-19. Sending him to an overcrowded jail with limited access to medical facilities would put his health at greater risk.
We urge the Pakistani authorities to ensure Professor Ismail’s safe and swift release, and protection from any forms of harassment, violence or intimidation.
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