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News :: International
Massachusetts rallies in support of Pakistani lawyers
14 Nov 2007
The National Lawyers Guild organized a demonstration in Boston on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 in solidarity with lawyers in Pakistan, who have been beaten and jailed for opposing the suspension of constitutional rights in their country.
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“I would like to thank the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild for organizing this demonstration in solidarity with the lawyers and judges of Pakistan, who have been beaten and jailed for standing up for the rule of law in their country,” said Mass. Bar Association President David White on Tuesday November 13, 2007. David continued by describing the rights enshrined in the Pakistani Constitution, including the right not to be tortured, and condemning General Pervez Musharraf’s usurpation of the rule of law.

He stood on the steps of the State House in Boston along with Judy Somberg, NLG Executive Vice President, Urszula Masny-Latos, Director of the NLG Mass. chapter, long time Guild member Attorney Max Stern, Professor Susan M. Akram, of Boston University School of Law, and Joshua Rubenstein, Amnesty International's Northeast Regional Director. The protest was also co-sponsored by the Boston Bar Association, and the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston.

Max Stern praised the courage of the lawyers and judges of Pakistan who are putting their lives on the line to defend the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in their country. He pointed out that it is not just civil rights lawyers who are on the front lines in Pakistan, but all types of lawyers; family lawyers, real estate lawyers; tax lawyers; business lawyers; etc. While praising the Pakistani lawyers as an example to lawyers here, Max also connected General Musharraf’s attack on the rule of law in Pakistan to the Bush administration’s disrespect for the rule of law here in the U.S., both of which are justified by the rhetoric of “anti-terrorism.”

Professor Akram spoke about the importance of lawyers and legal workers here in the U.S. standing in solidarity with demonstrators in Pakistan. She pointed out that the current regime in Washington has taken no steps to stop the billions of U.S. dollars flowing to Pakistan's military, despite General Musharraf’s suspension of Pakistan's Constitution, arrest of Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, and the beating and jailing of lawyers and judges. She said that the United States could not be the advocate for democracy in the Islamic world it claims to be by funding a military dictatorship that postpones elections.

Josh Rubenstein reminded the demonstrators in Boston of past claims by General Musharraf, who seized power in a 1999 coup, that “Pakistan is not ready for democracy,” saying that actually it is General Musharraf who is “not ready for democracy.”

Judy Somberg spoke about the 2,500 lawyers jailed in Pakistan since November 3rd, including the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and officials of the Democratic Lawyers Association of Pakistan. She voiced the NLG’s demands for the immediate release of all those detained, the immediate reinstatement of the Supreme Court and Provincial High Courts, the immediate revocation of the Provisional Constitution Order and the scheduling of fair and free general elections monitored by international observers.

About 100 lawyers and others joined the lunch hour demonstration. These professionals, dressed for court in suits and ties, applauded calls for international solidarity with their fellow legal workers and condemnations of U.S. support for foreign dictators. They listened as the speakers connected the need for democracy and rule of law here to events in Pakistan. And they paid tribute to the courage of the Pakistani lawyers.
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