[Marxism] Violent repression in North of Pakistan - an international appeal

Richard Fidler rfidler_8 at sympatico.ca
Fri Sep 23 07:50:35 MDT 2011


This report and appeal comes to me from Danielle Sabai, a member of
the French NPA who maintains a blog Asia Left Observer. -- RF
 
By Pierre Rousset 
 
A solidarity campaign is underway in defence of Baba Jan, a leader of
the LPP - the Labour Party Pakistan - and other people imprisoned in
the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, in the north of Pakistan. Baba Jan,
according to information from the LPP, was tortured for two days by
the secret service. 
 
For more than a month, progressive activists have suffered violent
repression in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Himalayan
“Territories of the North”. Last August 11, the police fired live
bullets against people demanding payment of compensation allowances
following a devastating landslide which had happened a year before in
the valley of Hunza, on July 4, 2010. This landslide caused very big
floods and the formation of a vast lake; this destroyed many dwellings
and a transport route that is essential for local trade with China.
The villagers accuse the administration of having abandoned them and
of having pocketed the allowances due to 25 of the 457 affected
families. 
 
The villagers demonstrated on August 11, on the occasion of the
arrival of the minister for the province. The police force killed in
cold blood Afzal Baig (22 years old), then his father, Sher Ullah Baig
(50 years old) who sought to protect him. In reaction, the following
day, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up,
clashing with the police, setting fire to a police station and the
Deputy Commissioner’s office. For four days, the population took
control of the city. 
 
To calm the population, the authorities wrongfully claimed that
prosecutions had begun against the police officers responsible for the
killings and granted financial compensation to the grieving families.
They took advantage of this to prepare the repression of progressive
circles, in order to impose silence on the events of August 11. Thus,
a week later, on August 19, 36 people were picked up (including ten
members of the LPP, six of them being maintained in detention). A new
wave of arrests began on September 16, with 33 more people picked up. 
 
Six members of the LPP were initially imprisoned. Baba Jan, a member
of the federal committee of the LPP [1], a leader of the Progressive
Youth Front (PYF), was very involved in the popular mobilizations.
Thanks to resistance opposed by the PYF to the police force, he had
time to escape arrest on August 19. But he was still wanted and was in
danger of being summarily executed (“disappeared”) if he was captured,
a victim of an “extrajudicial execution”. The area of Gilgit-Baltistan
is unfortunately well-known for violations of the human rights by the
authorities. Baba Jan thus chose give himself up to the authorities, a
month after going underground, not before first holding a press
conference so that no one could be unaware of what might happen to
him. 
 
Nevertheless, according to information obtained by the LPP, Baba Jan
was removed from his cell by the Pakistani secret services – the ISI
[2] - then tortured for two days: suspended by ropes, severely beaten
for having fought in defence of populations that were victims of
climate change! The ISI wanted to make him “confess” that he was
responsible for setting fire to the Deputy Commissioner’s office – to
which he replied that he had arrived on the spot only later. 
 
If Jan Baba is thus targeted by repression, it is because he played a
very active part, with the LPP and the PYF, in making known in
Pakistan the scandal of July 4, 2010 and its sequels. Thanks in
particular to their action, with press conferences held in Lahore,
Karachi and Islamabad, this issue made it to the front pages of the
national press. 
 
The LPP is launching a solidarity campaign for the release of Jan Baba
and the other prisoners, and in defence of all the victims of
repression. It demands the dropping of the false charges against the
demonstrators and effective compensation for all the people affected
by the landslide of July 4, 2010. This campaign will be conducted in
Pakistan and on the international level. We will give regular reports
on it. 
 
Pierre Rousset September 19, 2011 
 
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), based in Hong Kong, launched
last July already an appeal against repression in Gilgit-Baltistan.
See: http://www.urgentappeals.net/suppor... 
 
For the time being, letters of protest can be sent to Pakistani
embassies and messages of solidarity can be sent to the LPP
(labour_party@ yahoo.com). 
 
To find all the information available on ESSF concerning this
question, use the key words (n°7650) JAN Baba and (n°7649) Gilgit
Baltestan. See http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?page=sommaire
<http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?page=sommaire&lang=en>
&lang=en. 
 



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