Police used tear gas and batons to disperse a peaceful demonstration of government doctors in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 4 October 2021. About 20 doctors were detained until after the protest was dispersed. Several of the doctors were injured. The Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) had called on members from around the country to mobilise outside the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) in Islamabad against new regulations imposed on medical practices and to call on the government to improve the standard of education.
In a similar incident in Lahore on 29 August 2021, at least 12 members of the YDA suffered injuries when police resorted to baton charges and pepper spray to disperse a demonstration.
Violent attacks on workers
On 31 May 2021, staff from universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, were violently attacked by heavily armed police as they marched to the Peshawar provincial assembly. The march was organised by the Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association (FAPASA) to demand the reversal of government reforms forcing universities to generate their own finances. The police fired tear gas and used batons, leaving many protesters injured, with at least sixteen requiring hospital treatment. Twenty-four protesters, including the Peshawar University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) president, were arrested.
Right to civil liberties
On 11 October 2021, garment workers assembled outside Denim Clothing Company, a supplier for global fashion brands in Karachi, Pakistan, to protest against the factory’s inhumane working conditions, routine intimidation, lack of social security, arbitrary dismissals since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and refusal to pay the minimum wage.
Two vans arrived on the scene, and three men in plain clothes started ruthlessly beating up the workers with sticks. Several workers sustained severe injuries, including a dislocated elbow. Police forced protesting workers into the vans and held them at the police station for six hours, where they received further beatings from police. They were released only after they were forced to sign a document stating they would not protest against the company again.
Right to justice
Dodo Bheel, a worker at Sindh Engro Coal Mining Company (SECMC) in Pakistan, was detained by security guards of the company for 14 days for interrogation over the theft of scrap from a company store. Bheel died of his injuries. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Bheel had been tortured by the guards. The workers and their relatives held sit-ins and demonstrations after his death, demanding an immediate and impartial inquiry. Their protest was violently suppressed by the police, who moved into action with their batons and tear gas and tried to arrest some of the 150 protesters.