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Rights activists begin vigil outside Pakistani lawyer's home
News Date: 3rd December 2007

Two US human rights activists has began a vigil outside the home in Lahore of top Pakistani lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan, whose detention under emergency regulations was extended for a month.

Medea Benjamin and Tighe Barry, members of the American human rights groups Global Exchange and women's peace group Code Pink, started their vigil outside Ahsan's house at midnight.

Ahsan was detained for 30 days hours after President

Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency on November 3.

He was initially held in prison before being put under house arrest.

Authorities extended his detention by another month late Sunday night.

Benjamin said: "We have come to meet this man who we have heard is one of the great heroes of the struggle for democracy in Pakistan. We would sit patiently in front of his door and ask officials to let us in."

Both activists are camping outside Ahsan's house with sleeping bags. During the day, they joined other lawyers in a protest, singing songs and waving banners that called for Ahsan's release.

Ahsan's home has been declared a "sub-jail" and no one but his close relatives have been allowed to meet him.

Benjamin said Pakistani government representatives in the US had told rights activists that all arrested lawyers had been released.

"But when we tried to meet Ahsan yesterday (Saturday) we realised his home was still designated as a sub-jail," she said.

Barry said: "The President is telling the world that he is committed to democracy. So it is outrageous that Aitzaz Ahsan, Head of the nation's Supreme Court Bar Association, remains under house arrest."

Ahsan, who is also a leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), was part of the team of lawyers that defended deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry when President Musharraf tried to suspend him in March.

Like Ahsan, Chaudhry too is under house arrest in his official residence in Islamabad.

Source: PTI/GNA

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