Saturday, 17 December 2011

Zarteef Afridi Khan

Just a few kilometers from the municipal limits of Peshawar, Jamrud lies in the Khyber Agency tribal territory where the law of Pakistan does not hold. Here the Pashtoon code of conduct holds sway. Display of weapons is a matter of pride in a land where education has taken a back seat for most. On 8 December 2011, human rights defender Mr Zarteef Afridi Khan was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Ghundai area near Jamrud Bazaar while he was on his way to work at a local government-run school where he served as headmaster.

Prior to his murder, Zarteef Afridi had been active as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's core group coordinator in the area. Apart from his role in HRCP, Zarteef Afridi had been active with a number of peace groups in campaigning for the release of dozens of prisoners under the Frontiers Crimes Regulation.

He was known for his pacifism and his commitment to the cause of education he began his teaching career in 1983 when he was prevented by his mother from from going to Soviet Russia for a degree in engineering. His commitment to the cause of human rights meant that he became a vocal advocate of equal rights for minorities, women and children and his campaign for the release of people jailed under the Frontier Crimes Regulations won him the respect of the people of Jamrud. In the mid 90s Zarteef Afridi coupled his teaching with activism through the platform of Democratic Commission for Human Development.

It is reported that Zarteef Afridi had been receiving death threats from local militants for his work in organising a congregation of tribal elders.

Teacher, Human Rights Activist, Social Worker.
Killed December 2011

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