“We don’t accept Minorities Day and we will keep marking August 11 as the black day”- Government institutions and dignitaries celebrated National Minorities Day on 11 August, but the members of minority communities marked the day as a ‘black day’.
This year on Minorities Day, August 11, 2012, local Pakistani human rights NGOs organised a peaceful demonstration in Lahore to protest the lack of recognition of minorities in the country. Human rights NGO’s came together to mark the day as a ‘black day’ for minorities, stating that they could not celebrate as long as minorities in Pakistan are not given equal rights.
The leaders of minority groups, human rights organisations and individual human rights activists participated in a press conference – condemning the growing trend of discrimination, hate and violence threatening minority groups (Hindus, Ahmadis, Christians, Shias) and pointing to specific recent instances where minority rights have been abused, including: attacks, demolition, and closure of minority places of worship, kidnappings and forced conversions and wide scale killings.
Over 200 members of the general public were involved in a minority rights demonstration outside the Lahore press club, holding posters and banners regarding their wish to exercise their religious rights and to be recognized as equal nationals. Following the demonstration, recommendations regarding the rights and security of minorities were submitted to national authorities.
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The 11th of August is National Minorities Day in Pakistan and it began with the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He gave one of his most famous speeches on August 11th 1947 where his vision for the future Pakistan was expressed in words on religious freedom, rule of law and equality for all. Therefore Minorities Day in theory is to commemorate Jinnah’s words and to promote tolerance, freedom and equality for all citizens in Pakistan.
However, minorities living in the country question whether this vision of Pakistan was ever established arguing that not all Pakistani citizens live side by side nor can they exercise their rights equally.
According to the minority leaders in Pakistan, National Minority Day is celebrated under the regulation of the government and the aim is to create an illusion that minorities exercise their rights just like the rest of the Pakistani citizens