Saturday, March 08, 2008

Solidarity with Pakistani Lawyers: Black Flag Week, March 9 -15, 2008

From an email received Friday:

We are asking you to support and promote international solidarity for Black Flag Week, March 9 –15, in Pakistan. Aitzaz Ahsan, the President of the Supreme Court Bar has called for using black flags at all rallies and meetings, and the lawyers in Pakistan will be distributing black headscarves and armbands. We need your help because the principles that lawyers stand for matter. Everywhere.

The purpose of Black Flag Week is to call for the restoration of the rule of law, the reinstatement of the judiciary and the restoration of the Constitution and democracy in Pakistan. The recent election was a clear referendum. The people of Pakistan have spoken. Now, it is time for the judiciary to be restored, for an end to house arrests and other measures of intimidation, for the end of arbitrary rule.

We are contacting bar associations, prominent lawyers and journalists, and law schools here in the United States and asking them to show support for Pakistani lawyers by wearing black armbands or an item of black clothing that will call attention to their struggle for civil liberties. Our goal is to inform the public about the situation there and the need for restoration of the rule of law. We would like support and publicity worldwide-- with your help-- in spreading our message or one of your own.

From Achieving Our Country:

At first glance, there would seem to be no reason to turn our attention to a lawyer’s protest in a place 10 time-zones away on the other side of the world. After all, don’t we have enough on our plate...

Why worry about the Pakistani judiciary? Why worry about the restoration of democracy there?

In truth, it is probably always a smaller world than we imagine. Black Flag Week, which starts Monday, is set to commemorate the deposition of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry last year on March 9, 2007, the catalyst of a courageous lawyers' movement - and a political firestorm - that has engulfed Pakistan for months. Along with the subsequent State Emergency declared by President Musharaff on November 3, 2007, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007, and the free elections of February 18, 2008, it was a pivotal event, with implications, as things have turned out, worldwide. In Pakistan, many tens of thousands have protested in solidarity with the lawyers, and over the course of the turbulence and the elections, hundreds, like Ms. Bhutto, have lost their lives.

See more from Wise Law Blog's archives on the courageous struggles of Pakistan's legal profession.

We are glad to offer our support.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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