Activist faces forcible return to Pakistan
Hazrat Naeem Abdul Qayum, 24, also known as Geelaman Pashteen, has been peacefully using his Twitter account to call for equality and justice for human rights violations against the Pashtun community; and for the release of Manzoor Pashteen, a leader of the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM – Movement for the Protection of Pashtuns). Manzoor Pashteen was arrested and detained on 27 January 2020 under draconian colonial-era laws on charges including “sedition”, for a speech he gave criticising the Pakistani military.
The PTM is a movement that says it uses non-violent means to campaign against extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations Pakistan’s Pashtun ethnic minority suffer through. In the past, senior government officials – including Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa – have said they recognise and sympathise with the PTM’s grievances.
Despite these statements, the Pakistani authorities have intensified their crackdown against the group. Dozens of its supporters have been arrested, arbitrarily detained, subject to surveillance and intimidation, and violence. Across the country, their rallies have been banned or disrupted, denying them the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.