Afzal Guru: British rights activists' plea to Kalam

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Afzal Guru
Afzal Guru

Hasan Suroor

Campaign gains momentum ahead of President's visit

  • Make an appeal to European Parliament President
  • Death sentence a miscarriage of justice

    LONDON: A campaign by the British and European human rights activists in support of Mohammad Afzal Guru, who faces death sentence in the Indian Parliament attack case, has gathered momentum with the arrival of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam in Europe. He is to address the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday.

    Two British members of European Parliament, Sarah Ludford, who is also vice-chair of its human rights sub-committee, and Sajjad Karim, have described the death sentence awarded to Afzal Guru as a ``miscarriage of justice,'' and called for a pardon.

    They urged European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering to raise the issue with Mr. Kalam, and urge him to accept Afzal Guru's mercy petition.

    "It is imperative that the European Parliament President raises the case of Afzal Guru with Mr. Kalam. A failure to do so would undermine the European Parliament's role as a standard bearer for human rights.

    ``India is a democratic country which enshrines the rule of law, but in this case there has been a deeply worrying miscarriage of justice," said Ms. Ludford.

    Mr. Karim, in a letter to the European Parliament President, has quoted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad as saying that execution of Afzal Guru would have a ``negative impact'' on the ongoing peace process with Pakistan.

    ``The European Parliament is the standard bearer for human rights within the European Union. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It violates the right to life. It is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. It has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments.''

    Labour MP John McDonnel has circulated a motion in the Commons, saying that ``concerns'' had been raised regarding Afzal Guru's trial and the ``legitimacy of the verdict''.

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