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Pakistan: Abduction of human rights defender Mr Aijaz Ahmed, whose whereabouts remain unknown
On 23 July 2012, human rights defender Mr Aijaz Ahmed was abducted from his home by a large contingent made up of security forces officials and employees of individuals involved in land-grabbing and the illegal degradation of mangrove forests
The human rights defender was taken to an unknown location and police deny any knowledge of his arrest. Aijaz Ahmed is a member of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (FPP), and campaigns against land-grabbing and the illegal degradation of mangroves in Kakkapir Village, Maripur, Karachi, Sindh Province.
On 23 July 2012, at approximately 3:00am, Kakkapir Village was cordoned off by a group of between 70 and 80 people largely comprised of local police officials from Maripur Police Station, as well as other security forces officials and employees of individuals involved in land-grabbing and the illegal degradation of mangrove forests. The group went to Aijaz Ahmed's home and arrested him without producing an arrest warrant. They took him to an unknown location and his whereabouts remain unknown. When villagers asked about the defender's whereabouts, officials at Maripur Police Station denied any knowledge thereof.
It is believed that the abduction of Aijaz Ahmed is linked to the legal battle to halt the illegal cutting of mangrove forests. Following the killing of two leading FPP activists in Kakkapir Village in May 2011 a month after the High Court had given a stay order against the cutting of mangroves, Aijaz Ahmed took up a legal battle against one of the alleged killing perpetrators named Haji Younis, the Sindh Province Administration, the Board of Revenue of Sindh Province and the Maripur and West Zone Karachi Police.
On 9 June 2012, a committee established by court order to monitor the cutting of mangroves visited Kakkapir Village in order to assess the condition of mangrove forests there and record any encroachments.
During the visit, the committee witnessed the illegal destruction of mangrove forests, and this information led to the issuance of a court order to immediately cease these activities. After the court order was issued, individuals engaged in the illicit destruction of mangrove forests began intimidating Aijaz Ahmed and others involved in the campaign to protect mangrove forests.
Front Line Defenders is gravely concerned for Aijaz Ahmed's physical and psychological integrity, and believes that his abduction is directly related to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, particularly his campaign to stop the illegal degradation of mangrove forests.