Human Rights Open Mic Held By The Network For International Law Students
The Human Rights Open Mic, held at Books n Beans last Friday, was a pioneer effort of its kind seeking to open the public dialogue on what is perhaps one of the pertinent legal movements in today’s world. Organised by the Pakistan Chapter of the Network for International Law Students, the open mic invited members across the professional spectrum at large to share their views, attitudes and experiences about human rights. Being one of those loosely defined umbrella terms like globalisation, the overarching purpose of the open mic was to work towards a clearer understanding of the human behind the human rights movement in Pakistan by exploring the different meanings different people attach to it. The open mic was attended by lawyers, journalists, activists, civil society representatives and young students – an ideal attendance for an initiative that aimed to provide a forum for civil society action. Members of the Democratic Students Alliance, Amnesty International and Justice Project Pakistan were among those who attended.
By creating such spaces where opinion and experience combine to offer unique personal insight about what Pakistanis consider to be their most prized lawful rights and those they consider are constantly threatened by the community or State at large, the stage was set to break the barriers between the speakers and the audience. The line-up of speakers spoke to the diverse array of interests expected from an open mic.
Anooshay Shaigan from Courting the Law, one of the speakers for the night, shared her vast experience of working with governmental and non-governmental bodies for the furtherance of human rights. The audience also had the opportunity of listening to the moving personal experiences of transgender rights activist Neeli Rana and former death row prisoner Sohail Yafat who spoke about the rights of marginalized communities (transgenders and prisoners, respectively) in Pakistan. An underlying theme that ran through almost every speech was the fundamental lack of social justice in Pakistan and the idea that criminal justice is either reserved for those with money and influence or is prone to systemic flaws within the legal and policing structure of Pakistan.
Also speaking on the occasion, Adan Abid the President at NILS Pakistan said, ‘I think people often forget that the law is too important to be left only to the lawyers. It is for this reason that we at NILS believe it is important to engage members of the public in a discourse on human rights without the baggage of legal jargon. We want to break down the understanding of the law on human rights through Open Mics like these’.
As a network of law students, NILS seeks to promote rule of law, international legal standards, legal activism, diplomacy and research-based advocacy by engaging law students, young lawyers and faculty members across the country. More thematic Open Mics are planned for the future in order to continue a tradition that values a free exchange of ideas.
Hira Qureshi (NILS Press Correspondent)