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Neena Kohli | HENB | Karachi | Dec 12, 2022:: A fanatic Muslim cleric from Pakistan who is accused of being responsible for forced conversions and marriages of girls and women from religious minorities, including Hindus, is among 30 human rights violators, corrupt officials and entities to be sanctioned by the UK. Mian Abdul Haq of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, is named on the new list of sanctions announced by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Friday to mark International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day. Notorious Mian Abdul Haq is also known as Mian Mithoo or Mian Mithu as well.
The package includes individuals and entities involved in a wide range of grievous activities – including the torture of prisoners, the mobilisation of troops to rape civilians, and systematic atrocities. “It is our duty to promote free and open societies around the world,” said Cleverly. “Today our sanctions go further to expose those behind the heinous violations of our most fundamental rights to the account. We are committed to using every lever at our disposal to secure a future of freedom over fear,” he said.
In a press release of Govt of United Kingdom, it denotes that “UK sanctions target 30 corrupt political figures, human rights violators and perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence around the world.”
In a tweet, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of UK Govt also conveyed, “The UK is committed to defending the human rights of everyone, everywhere. Ahead of #HumanRightsDay, we are imposing new sanctions on those violating human rights around the globe.”
Haq, who is a cleric and politician, is a locally influential figure in the Sindh region of Pakistan and has been criticised over the years for the forced conversion of minorities, mostly Hindus, in the province. “Mian Abdul Haq, a Muslim cleric of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, who is responsible for forced marriages and forced religious conversions of non-Muslims and minors,” notes the UK sanctions list.
Sanctions impose an asset freeze and travel ban on individuals and entities and prevent any UK citizen, or any business in the UK, from dealing with any funds or economic resources which are owned, held or controlled by the designated person. Other countries covered in the latest wave of sanctions include Russia, Uganda, Myanmar and Iran.
Andrey Tishenin, a member of the Russian Federal Security Service in Crimea, and Artur Shambazov, a senior detective in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, have been sanctioned for the torture of Ukrainian Oleksandr Kostenko in 2015. Valentin Oparin, Major of Justice for the Russian Federation, and Oleg Tkachenko, Head of Public Prosecutions for the Rostov region, for use of torture.
General Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda from 2005 to 2018, has been sanctioned for overseeing multiple units responsible for human rights violations including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. Sadrach Zelodon Rocha and Yohaira Hernandez Chirino, the mayor and deputy mayor of Matagalpa in Nicaragua have been sanctioned for promoting and supporting grievous violations of human rights.
Ten Iranian officials, connected to Iran’s judicial and prison systems, have been sanctioned and officials from the Myanmar junta have been designated for rape and sexual violence allegations. The UK government said these latest set of designations further develop the use of sanctions this year to tackle serious human rights violations and abuses and corrupt actors.
In a comment to Dawn, the British High Commission said: “The UK takes freedom of religion or belief very seriously and is committed to protecting minorities around the world. The new package of sanctions targets those violating fundamental freedoms. This includes Mian Abdul Haq, a cleric of the Bharchundi Sharif shrine in Ghotki, Sindh, who is responsible for forced marriages and forced religious conversions of non-Muslims and minors. This sanctions package does not include any other Pakistani national.”
__Inputs from PTI, IANS and Dawn.