December 5, 2021
South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), the regional network of human rights defenders, has vehemently condemned the vigilante attack on the Sri Lankan migrant worker Priyantha Diyawadana, who was subjected to a mob lynching and later burned alive in public over allegations of blasphemy in Sialkot on December 3, 2021.
“Diyawadana was working as a general manager in a sportswear manufacturing company and had been living in Pakistan since 2010. He was accused of blasphemy by his two co-workers for allegedly desecrating posters bearing the name of Prophet Muhammad. The mob attacked him inside the factory premises and then burned the body in the presence of hundreds of people who cheered the perpetrator,” read the press statement.
SAHR, along with civil society at regional and global level, has been repetitively calling for an end to the use of blasphemy laws which target minorities and marginalized people in Pakistan. SAHR has expressed disappointment that successive governments and Pakistani authorities have continued to ignore these longstanding calls to repeal these laws which severely restrict the freedom of expression and freedom of religion. This ignorance has resulted in yet another life and has created a society ruled by hate and intolerance.
At the same time SAHR representatives who issued the press statement, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy the chairperson and Dr. Roshmi Goswami the co-chairperson, welcomed the actions taken thus far by the Prime Minister and the Government of Pakistan towards arresting the perpetrators.
“We urge all relevant authorities to conduct a prompt impartial and independent inquiry into the murder and follow due process to attain justice for the victim,” it said.
SAHR further reiterated the call to the government to immediately repeal the ‘draconiyan’ blasphemy laws which were paving the way to a climate of intolerance and impunity leading to inhumane violations of human rights.