Haunted by ghosts: finding Pakistan's 'disappeared'

One of the things you tend to notice in doing human rights work is the amazing calm of people who have suffered horrible experiences.

I’m sure there are also embittered people who are always unpleasant to everyone they meet after what they’ve been though, but – surprisingly enough – the opposite does seem to be the general rule.

I was reminded of this again last Friday when the Pakistani disappearances campaigner Amina Janjua (subject of previous posts) came to the office to talk to Amnesty staff (and national Icelandic TV!).

Like other steadfast human rights victims/survivors I’ve met lately – Moazzam Begg, Murat Kurnaz or Billy Moore to name but three – Amina simply exudes a deep-rooted, quiet, understated determination. I guess it’s what you need if you’ve gone from self-described “ordinary housewife” to campaigner for a missing husband and hundreds of other people “disappeared” in Pakistan’s dirty war on terrorism. Anyway, she’s calm!

Apart from talking to us on Friday lunchtime, she squeezed in an interview with the Independent, another with Sunrise Radio, two (count ‘em, two) interviews with national Icelandic media and a meeting with the Foreign Office. On Saturday she braved the London weather (ok, it WAS quite nice!) to head up a demo outside the Pakistan High Commission in central London. Again more journos to talk to there (pictured).

She’s live on the mid-morning Nihal show on the BBC Asian Network this Wednesday (set for 10am) – so please try to listen in.

Musharraf’s gone but Pakistan’s legions of missing are still held somewhere in the country’s warren of secret detention centres.

Amnesty will keep pressing the legal and political authorities to account for these “ghost” prisoners. But I have a feeling that – at the end of the day – it will be people like Amina who’ll actually find them.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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