Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Lawyers Guild Demonstrates in Solidarity with Pakistani Lawyers

Click on the title to this post to read a brief story in the Boston Business Journal about a demonstration earlier this week in Boston, In part it reads:

In a protest against the firing of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and the beating and jailing of lawyers opposed to martial law in Pakistan, the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and other bars groups rallied on the steps of the Massachusetts State House Tuesday.

The rally was organized by the National Lawyers Guild.

"The purpose of a constitution is to establish citizens' basic rights and liberties, and by suspending his nation's constitution President Musharraf has usurped the rule of law," said MBA President David W. White Jr., in a statement.

Boston Bar Association president Tony Doniger also urged BBA members to attend a national rally at noon on Wednesday at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., which is being organized by the American Bar Association.
The gorgeous thing about the Boston rally was that it included "legal workers," not just lawyers. I saw a photo of the rally in the Globe, but cannot seem to locate a copy of the image online. What I added here is an image from the Boston Globe, Nov. 8, of Pakistani lawyers protesting in Karachi. Note that some of the protesters are women -- lawyers?

There were also two rallies in New York: one through the bar associations and law school deans, and another through the National Lawyers Guild in front of the Pakistani Consulate. The larger, more mainstream rally:
About 700 lawyers rallied Tuesday afternoon in front of New York Supreme Court in Manhattan to show support for lawyers and judges in Pakistan battling for the restoration of the rule of law.

Addressing the throng that poured down the courthouse steps and spilled onto the sidewalk, Barry Kamins, president of the New York City Bar Association, said the rally was called "to embolden" the Pakistani lawyers and judges who have been "physically manning barricades and trying to face down an entire army."

Kathryn Madigan, president of the New York State Bar Association, also called for lawyers to speak "with one voice in defense of the rule of law" in Pakistan. And Catherine Christian, president of the New York County Lawyers' Association, said Pakistani lawyers "are showing the world what it means to be a lawyer -- fighting for liberty and an independent legal system." (snip)

The crisis was precipitated on Nov. 3, when Musharraf suspended the constitution and replaced seven of the 11 justices on Pakistan's Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who refused to promise to abide by a "provisional constitution."

In declaring "emergency rule" shortly before the Pakistani Supreme Court was expected to rule on the legality of his re-election, Musharraf also banned protests and closed down independent TV stations.

According to press reports, thousands of lawyers protesting the imposition of emergency rule have been arrested and hundreds beaten.

In addition to being sponsored by the city and state bars and the county lawyers, Tuesday's rally was backed by the New York Women's Bar Association, the Muslim Bar Association of New York, the New York Council of Defense Lawyers and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The deans of three area law schools -- CUNY's Michelle J. Anderson, Mary Daly of St. John's and Fordham's William Treanor -- attended the rally as did Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.
Read here for the full text on

The ABA-sponsored rally in Washington, DC, is mentioned in the ABA Journal here. In typical OOTJ fashion, this seems to have all happened before I put it in the blog. Apparently, lawyers in Texas were urged to wear black suits in a show of support for the Pakistani attorneys (well, how would you know it was a different day?!?). And there seems to have been another rally in Akron, Ohio.

I have been cheering for the courageous lawyers in Pakistan, who are struggling to maintain the principle of a rule of law that applies equally to all.

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