Today at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan a meeting of lawyers and human rights activsits (around noon) was held to discuss the present situation. A statement from Asma Jehangir who has been detained for 90 days was read and subsequently the compound was surrounded by police officers in riot gear and with tear gas threatening to arrest everyone inside (around 1:45). Inside people sang songs while the police remained outside, after sometime all (as far as I know) were rounded up into buses and detained. Journalists were released. Currently they have been taken to the Model Town police station in lahore. I am unsure about the number of people currently detained.
I have received information from my partner, a US citizen, who is a research fellow (ironically researching detentions and disappearances) and who had attended the meeting at HRCP. He is also currently detained. Although they have seized most cell phones, some people have managed to keep theirs and until recently I was receiving intermittent text messages updating me on the situation. Although they are being treated (thus far) well enough and rumor is they will be released within 24-48 hours,, the implications seem clear -- sending a strong message of intimidation to anyone who dares even discuss resistance/criticism of Musharaff.
Those detained were in a private meeting, inside HRCP's offices this afternoon -- not staging a protest or demonstration of any kind. Among the arrested are a motley bunch who had assembled due to a shared interest in the political situation and human rights issues: students, a professor from LUMS, a professor from Punjab U, lawyers, HRCP workers. A few have reportedly been transported elsewhere including a staff member from HRCP, although where to is not known. Some say 40-50 total people are detained from the HRCP meeting, though I couldn't get this confirmed due to sporadic and interrupted phone communication with the detained.
Right now the police are saying they may be detained from 30-90 days under either house arrest, in detention or jail. We hope this is just an intimidation tactic to scare people into silence and passivity.
Goddammit. (Emails say that a lot of ICG/OSI/HRW partners and friends have been detained, too.)
[...] Then, I get the creeping suspicion that maybe their website had been blocked. I was right; Sepoy confirms that several people have been [...]
"Some say 40-50 total people are detained from the HRCP meeting" Update: Seventy people were detained.
This news report includes some footage of Asma J. being detained or delivered detention orders (see around the 12 min. mark) at the gate of her home: http://pkpolitics.com/2007/11/04/news-update-2-4-november-07/ Just got off the conf. call, which included some people planning to march out in protest tomorrow in Lahore and Karachi. They are expecting to be met with force/arrests. (In response to a question about security, one answered, "I'm as secure or insecure as anybody else in Pakistan. We're thinking this is a time to stand up and be counted.") And then they kept saying, we'll see what happens tomorrow.
reports are that those arrested tomorrow will be detained for long periods, possibly at jails far outside the cities.
[...] on human rights folks here, for those interested. There are all sorts of protests planned at various Pakistani embassies, if [...]