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German envoy called out for ‘lecture’ on civil rights by pro-Palestinian protesters

German envoy called out for 'lecture' on civil rights by pro-Palestinian protesters

Lahore, APR 27 /DNA/ – Pro-Palestinian activists disrupted the speech of German Ambassador to Pakistan Alfred Grannas when he took the podium to speak at the Asma Jahangir Conference 2024 in Lahore on Saturday.

The German envoy was called out by the representatives of the Progressive Students’ Collective when he began his speech during the annual conference, the theme of which this year is ‘The People’s Mandate: Safeguarding Civil Rights in South Asia’.

As Grannas started speaking, one of the guests at the event, an activist, who was standing in the middle of the conference hall, said: “Excuse me Mr ambassador. Excuse me. I’m shocked by your audacity that you are here to talk about civil rights.”

The activist also questioned the envoy about his government’s complicity in the ongoing genocide, as his speech was largely aimed at exploring the state of human and civil rights in South Asia, including Pakistan.

“Why your country is brutally abusing the people speaking for the rights of Palestinians,” the activist said, addressing the German envoy.

Ambassador Grannas, who was visibly taken aback, began shouting while asking the protesters not to shout. He also gestured at the students while waving his left hand in the air, asking them to “go out”.

“If you want to shout, go out, and there you can shout because shouting is not a discussion. That it is [sic]… if you want to discuss…,” the envoy said, soon after which the conference went off-air for a while on a digital media platform’s YouTube channel.

However, the speech by Ambassador Grannas resumed in a matter of few minutes.

The protest by the activist came days after the conference organisers shared that the envoy would participate in the event.
However, the curtain raiser about his participation in the event garnered immense criticism from users on X, formerly Twitter, who questioned his presence owing to Germany’s support for Israeli offensive in Gaza.

When reached out for a comment by regarding the envoy’s mic being muted, Munizae Jahangir — journalist and board member of the Asma Jahangir Foundation, clarified: “German ambassador mic was not muted at all, we don’t have that technology or above all, the intention.”

She also maintained that the conference had arranged a “full panel on Palestine” and with great difficulty got a noted human rights activists recognised as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

“We have over 22 sessions, 140 female lawyers from across Pakistan (including far flung areas like Turbat, Gilgit and newly-merged districts) 140 prosecutors, ambassador from more than 12 countries, and 80 speakers,” she said.

She added that the holding conference every year was only made possible due to the “hundreds of hours of voluntary work go into it by lawyers and journalists who are committed to human rights values”.

Jahangir further said that this was “our commitment to Asma’s principles of democracy and free speech”.

The German government has been explicitly backing Israel in its war on Gazans following the October 7 surprise attack by Hamas, providing both diplomatic support and significant transfer of arms, while it has also meted out harsh treatment to protestors demonstrating against the genocide of Palestinians in Germany.

Over 34,000 Palestinians, including more than 25,000 children and women, in Gaza have been killed following Israel’s brutal offensive in the wake of October 7 attack.

Almost all countries in the Western and European world have extended their support to Israel despite unabated deadly attacks on innocent civilians.

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