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UN human rights chief condemns Pakistan assassination; urges reform of blasphemy laws March 3rd, 2011

We are deeply saddened by the death of  Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, and wanted to share this condemnation of his assassination by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

(2 March 2011) – The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday condemned the assassination of Pakistan’s Minister for Minority Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, who is the second high profile public figure to have been killed since the beginning of the year apparently because of their opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws.

Mr. Bhatti was killed when gunmen attacked his car in Islamabad on 2 March. On 4 January, the Governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was also assassinated in Islamabad by one of his own bodyguards, because of his opposition to the blasphemy laws, and in particular his call for a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, sentenced to death under those laws, to be pardoned.

“These murders are a tragedy for Pakistan and those who envision a future for the country centred on human rights,” the High Commissioner said. “I hope the Government of Pakistan will not only hold the killers to account, but reflect on how it can more effectively confront the extremism which is poisoning Pakistani society.”

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