Amnesty flags Pakistan on crackdown on critics

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Dissanayake called for the government to immediately and unconditionally release the eight people arrested across Pakistan Punjab…reports Asian Lite News

The Amnesty International has urged Pakistani authorities to immediately release eight people arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for “criticising the state” on Twitter, Dawn reported.

“The Pakistani authorities must stop using the draconian Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) to punish people who are simply exercising their right to freedom of expression online,” Dinushika Dissanayake, the rights body’s Director for South Asia demanded.

She pointed out that for the longest period of time, successive governments in Pakistan had used the law as a tool to crush peaceful dissent and intimidate supporters of political opposition.

Dissanayake called for the government to immediately and unconditionally release the eight people arrested across Pakistan Punjab, adding that instead of quashing dissenting voices, the authorities should end their “repressive crackdown” on the right to freedom of expression.

Earlier this week, the FIA had launched a crackdown on social media activists it believed were involved in a “smear campaign” against institutions, especially the army, ever since former Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted through a no-confidence motion.

Since last Sunday, the top trending hashtags on Twitter were those targeting the army, the judiciary and the new government, and on Tuesday the tweets using those hashtags soared to 4.3 million.

An FIA official said that they had arrested some eight suspects in connection with a social media campaign against the army and the judiciary from different parts of Punjab, including Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad.

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