Ananth Krishnan

CHENNAI: Ibn Abdur Rehman has already been arrested once since Pakistan was plunged into a state of Emergency, but that does not deter him. If anything, it motivates him to pursue the cause he has fought for all his life.

“I’ve been working to defend people’s human rights all my life,” Mr. Rehman told The Hindu here on Thursday. “And, I will continue to do so.”

Mr. Rehman is the director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and one of the country’s most prominent human rights activists. He is here to attend the annual conference of Magsaysay awardees.

Mr. Rehman received the prize in 2004 along with Laxminarayan Das for promoting peace and international understanding – together they founded the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy.

Since Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared Emergency on November 3, a number of prominent human rights activists have been arrested. Asma Jehangir, chairperson of the HRCP and human rights advocate, was also due to attend the conference here, but has been placed under house arrest in Lahore. Mr. Rehman was also arrested, but was subsequently released and allowed to travel to Chennai.

“I don’t see an early end to the struggle we’re engaged in right now,” Mr. Rehman said. “I find it very difficult to believe that elections can be free and fair under Emergency rule, as Gen. Musharraf suggests.” Mr. Rehman said the biggest problem facing the country was the heavy restrictions placed on the media. “Without a free media, we cannot move forward,” he said.

Mr. Rehman is returning to Pakistan on Saturday, and will continue to campaign for human rights.