Target: Government of Pakistan
Goal: Take action against the threat posed by extremist groups to schools, students and teachers in Pakistan
The Taliban, al Qaeda and other extremist groups are aggressively targeting schools, students, teachers and human rights activists in Pakistan. These attacks are aimed at educational institutions to deter the progression of education, empowerment and the defense of individual rights in the region.
Attacks on educational institutions are not a fluke, but a calculated move on behalf of these extremist groups that end up killing female students, children, and anyone bent on advancing human rights. Human Rights Watch has collected 96 reports of school attacks in Pakistan during 2012 so far.
The majority of these acts of violence occurred in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which border Afghanistan. A report by the United Nations cites a total of 152 attacks on educational institutions in both of these regions during 2011.
As a call to action, Ali Dyan Hasan, Pakistani director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “Parts of Pakistan are among the most dangerous in the world to go to school today. It’s time Pakistani authorities understand that expressions of outrage alone are inadequate and such attacks will only end if they hold abusers accountable.”
Recently, the attack on young Malala Yousafzai’s life has garnered a fair amount of media attention and outrage. Yousafzai, a 15 year-old student and activist for children’s educational freedom, was shot in the head and neck by the Tehreek-e-Taliban in October 2012. Only days after this attack, Shia university students were critically injured when offenders threw acid at their faces while on their way home from school. This second attack has not garnered the same level of attention and outrage as the attack on young Malala Yousafzai. It’s critical to highlight every attack if progress is to be achieved.
The right to a quality and safe education is one that should be enjoyed by all. The Pakistani government must take definitive action in order to protect schools, students and teachers from these attacks. In addition, if an attack happens to occur there must be a fast and effective response in order to repair any damage to the targeted school or its resources.
“It is time Pakistani authorities understood that those who seek to harm students and teachers wish to rob Pakistan of its future,” said Hasan. Sign below to call upon the Pakistani government to act on behalf of education and public safety, and particularly the youth of Pakistan.
Dear Pakistani Government,
The safety of students and teachers at Pakistani schools is under attack. Extremist groups are targeting educational institutions unabated, turning what should be safety zones into scenes of violence.
Just expressing outrage, as the Pakistani government and global governments have done, will not go far enough to hinder these attacks. There needs to be immediate mobilization from Pakistani authorities to prevent attacks like the one against Malala Yousafzai—the young educational freedom activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban.
In the event of an attack, authorities need to be responsive, working to repair the physical and emotional damage done to a given school in order to make sure students do not fall behind.
The right to a safe educational environment is something that should be enjoyed by all. No student, teacher or activist should feel unsafe when in school. Please take the appropriate measures to effectively address this issue.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: © AP Photo