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Security and Justice

Help us defend Human Rights Defender Gulalai Ismail

Gulalai Ismail, award-winning Pakistani human rights defender, is under imminent threat of arrest. She is the co-founder and Chairperson of Aware Girls, and Chairperson of the Youth Peace Network. Cordaid worked with her in youth, peace and security advocacy campaigns. Please help us defend this frontline human rights defender by signing the Avaaz petition or sending messages of solidarity.

(The Hague, 2015. Gulalai Ismail during a UNOY meeting in The Hague. © Cordaid/Frank van Lierde)

Cordaid, UNOY and CSPPS are mobilizing their networks to provide assistance to Gulalai and her family. You can stand with us in our defence of Gulalai by:

About Gulalai Ismail

Gulalai Ismail regularly speaks at home and abroad on peacebuilding in Pakistan and women’s empowerment. Aware Girls aims to challenge the culture of violence and oppression of women in the rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area. The Youth Peace Network trains young people in human rights and political leadership, encouraging the participation of women in politics in Pakistan, and encouraging tolerance between religions.

The situation

On 22 May 2019, police in Islamabad, Pakistan filed a First Information Report (FIR) against Gulalai Ismail, who has led a campaign against extra-judicial killings in the country. She has been charged with a number of offences, including under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Gulalai Ismail, along with many other human rights defenders and members of the public, recently spoke out against the abduction, rape and murder of a 10-year old girl, whose body was discovered on 21 May. It is believed the human rights defender is being targeted as a result of her advocacy on this case.

Intelligence agencies know me better than my best friends.

Gulalai Ismail, human rights defender

Four years ago, when Cordaid interviewed Gulalai, she already moved places every few months for security reasons. A year before that interview gunmen attacked her, her family and her organisation Aware Girls. Ever since she was being watched and followed. “Intelligence agencies know me better than my best friends”, she told us.

Obviously, today’s situation poses huge personal risks for Gulalai. Earlier in 2019, she was arbitrarily detained and disappeared for 40 hours. If arrested today, she could be imprisoned for an indefinite period without the possibility of release on bail. She has gone into hiding out of fear for her safety.

Cordaid’s connection with Gulalai

Gulalai was a member of the international youth advocacy team of the United Network of Young Peace builders (UNOY peace builders), an active lobbyist for UN Security Council Resolution 2250 on youth, peace and security. Cordaid has supported this Youth Advocacy Team since 2010. This team of young change makers successfully pointed out the important and positive role young people play in peacebuilding and security to UN member states and international UN agencies. Ultimately this led to the adoption of UNSCR 2250.

We have often teamed up with these young and inspiring peace builders, including Gulalai. Together, we organised  trainings and events in The Hague and in New York. Cordaid still actively supports the lobby and advocacy missions of the Youth Advocacy Team  through our strategic partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Gulalai was one of the active members of the Young Advocacy Team. Together they were a driving force behind UN Resolution 2250. Her organisation Aware girls is still part of the UNOY network, supported by Cordaid.

Read more about Cordaid’s Security & Justice program.