The state’s three major bar groups are calling on lawyers to join a rally outside Manhattan Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street on Tuesday to support attorneys in Pakistan who have been beaten and jailed in protests against General Pervez Musharraf’s declaration of emergency rule on Saturday.
News reports have estimated that as many as 700 lawyers have been jailed and 100 injured since Mr. Musharraf, Pakistan’s president, suspended the constitution; replaced seven of the 11 justices on the country’s Supreme Court, including its chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who refused to take an oath to abide by a “provisional” constitution; and postponed nationwide elections scheduled for January.
With political parties taking a low profile so far in response to the imposition of emergency rule, the Pakistani bar has taken the lead in turning out for street protests.
Barry Kamins, president of the New York City Bar Association who organized the rally, said it is important for the New York bar to “show solidarity with lawyers whenever they may be attacked or unjustly victimized” for protesting “against efforts to eviscerate the rule of law.”
Mr. Kamins has also written to Mr. Musharraf on behalf of the city bar, saying that his government’s actions “have generated outrage within the legal community and among concerned citizens around the world.”
The New York State Bar Association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association are also sponsoring the Tuesday rally, set for 1 p.m.
Catherine Christian, president of NYCLA, called the rally a “no brainer.”
“Lawyers are being arrested and the justice system is being shut down, as lawyers, we must speak out,” she said.
Ali Ahsan, whose father, Aitzaz Ahsan, is president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar, is scheduled to speak on Tuesday. The elder Mr. Ahsan has been detained and denied access to his lawyer, according to press reports.
Mr. Ahsan, a former associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton who now works for the United Nations, has been told by contacts in Pakistan that his father is being held in solitary confinement.
Mr. Kamins and Ms. Christian will also speak at the rally as will Kathryn Grant Madigan, president of the state bar.
Also yesterday, the New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild announced plans for a rally Tuesday for the same purpose at the same time but at a different location, in front of the Pakistani Consulate at 8 E. 65th St.
- Daniel Wise can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.