The Americans for Justice in Pakistan held a rally at Brighton’s Twelve Corners on Sunday.
As cries rang out during protests half a world away in Pakistan, shouts and car horns offered symbolic gestures of brotherhood and hope in Brighton.
With the Middle East country in a state of emergency since the beginning of November, local residents with ties to Pakistan staged a rally Nov. 18 at Brighton’s Twelve Corners to offer their own effort at gaining support for democracy in their home country.
“Human rights are being violated,” said Aitezaz Ahmed, who moved from Pakistan to the United States in 1990 and came to Rochester in 2003. “We want to send a message to Congress and the rest of the world that they should not be supporting dictatorship anywhere.”
Organized by Americans for Justice in Pakistan, more than 40 people of all ages came out to the rally hoisting signs that read “Justice for judiciary,” “USA stands for justice” and “Stop torturing lawyers.”
Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf recently sent members of the country’s Supreme Court to jail, along with opposition leaders, lawyers and activists while the U.S. has tried to pressure Musharraf into giving up his military status. He also has placed restrictions on independent television stations.
Musharraf gained power in 1999 after a coup and refers to his military uniform as a “second skin” because as leader of the military, he holds the country’s most powerful position. The U.S. wants him to give up that status to rule as a civilian and sent diplomat John D. Negroponte to the country over the Nov. 16 weekend to discuss ending the state of emergency.
“We want to create awareness that there is a lot of human rights abuse,” said Pittsford resident Mara Ahmed, who organized the event. “The legal community is asking for the return of the law.”
Ahmed, a filmmaker and artist who moved to Connecticut from Pakistan in 1993, said the purpose of the event was to raise awareness among Americans and to show them that there are civil liberties at stake in her home country.
She said she supports the U.S. in cutting off aid and instituting other economic restrictions, but wants President Bush not to support the current Pakistani administration. She added that Americans for Justice in Pakistan plans to write letters to members of the Congress and Senate.
As members of the rally shouted “No to guns, yes to law,” drivers honked to encourage them. Scott Forsyth, an attorney from Rochester, said that the group hoped to inspire others to look into the issues facing Pakistan and maybe even protest themselves.
Brighton-Pittsford Post writer Bryan Roth can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 270, or at email@example.com. Renee Taylor can be reached at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.