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Pakistan: Arrested, tortured for assisting climate change victims

Baba Jan speaking at a demonstration for the flood affected earlier this year.

[Urgent: Please send messages calling for the release of Baba Jan and his comrades c/- farooqtariq@hotmail.com. Farooq Tariq will be a guest speaker at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne, over September 30 to October 3.]

By Farooq Tariq

September 15, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Baba Jan, a federal committee member of the Labour Party Pakistan (LPP), has been taken from jail ... and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is torturing him on the name of investigation”, fears the LPP. Baba Jan, surrendered himself to an "anti-terrorist court" in Gilgit Baltestan last week, had been on the run after police opened fire on a demonstration demanding compensation for those affected by the Atta Abad Lake floods last year, killing two.

Baba Jan’s “crime” was that he organised rallies and demonstrations against the police killings.

The LPP has issued an urgent appeal for messages to protest against Baba Jan's detention. The judge sent Baba Jan to prison on judicial remand. “He was dragged out of jail by the intelligence agencies”, alleges the alert. The Labour Party Pakistan demonstrated today at Islamabad National Press Club and has planned more demonstrations across Pakistan.

Instead of arresting the police officers involved in the deaths of the two activists, police registered 16 charges against Baba Jan and others. They arrested at least 36 activists, among them 10 members of the Labour Party Gilgit Baltestan. Baba Jan escaped arrest and was sheltered by the community; after a month underground, he decided to surrender. Currently, six activists including Baba Jan remain under arrest, facing charges that many know to be fabricated.

Baba Jan joined the Labour Party Pakistan in 2004 and was elected to the LPP federal committee at its congress in Faisalabad in 2010. Previously one of the main leaders of the Peoples Youth, he had left the Pakistan Peoples Party (LPP) youth wing to join the LPP and organised the Progressive Youth Front (PYF) across Gilgit Baltistan, the northernmost province in Pakistan.

Baba Jan was among the first to raise the issue of the Atta Abad Lake and toured Pakistan in 2011 to organise rallies and demonstrations to highlight the plight of villagers who have lost their homes to this newly formed lake caused by deforestation, soil erosion and climate change.

He spoke to the national media in press conferences held in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad.

The corporate media finally took up the issue and some compensation was paid to the victims, however a new movement began to urge compensation for all affected, as some had not been compensated. When the police opened fire on the July protest, killing two activists, Baba Jan and his comrades took up the case.

The Labour Party Pakistan appeals to all human rights organisations, political parties, trade unions, youth and peasant organisation raise their voices to save the life of Baba Jan.

For more information, please contact Ihsan Ali, president of the Gilgit Baltistan High Court Bar Association and member of LPP federal committee (03462524792), or Nisar Shah, general secretary Labour Party Pakistan (0300 2147960). Please send protest messages to Farooq Tariq at farooqtariq@hotmail.com.

For more background, please see "Pakistan: Baba Jan: The most wanted political activist in Gilgit Baltestan" and the article below.

[Farooq Tariq is spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan.]

 

Pakistan's floods -- 'This is not a natural disaster'

Last year's floods were the worst in Pakistan's history.

By Peter Boyle

September 14, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly -- The 2011 floods were the worst in Pakistan's history. Twenty million people were affected and about 2000 lost their lives.

Now there is record flooding for the second year in a row.

“This is not a natural disaster”, Farooq Tariq , the national spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan, told Green Left Weekly. He was referring to widespread and unprecedented monsoonal flooding that has hit Pakistan over the last few days, already killing hundreds of people and making nearly a million homeless.

And this is just the beginning of the monsoon season.

Farooq Tariq will be one of the guest speakers at the Climate Change Social Change activist conference in Melbourne, over September 30 to October 3.

“There have been big debates about the changing global climate and its effects on Pakistan", Tariq said. "This latest rain wave is unprecedented. Looking at the history of our weather, it is reported that once in seven years there has been a bad flood. But this has changed. This is second year in a row that there is a devastating flood.”

The 2010 floods inundated a fifth of Pakistan, directly affected about 20 million people -- mostly by destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure -- and killed about 2000 people.

After that disaster, aid groups had warned the Pakistan government to invest in prevention measures to mitigate against seasonal rains, avoid a repeat of last year’s experience. But it failed to act.

“The government failed miserably because they never care about people. The warring 'partners' in the Sindh state government were too busy in kill each other in Karachi through out the Ramadan. The Sindh government was busy trying to save it self from collapse because all the four partners of Sindh government were fighting each other. More than 2000 were killed in Karachi during August alone. So despite all the warnings there were no precautionary measures taken.

“Now there are very heavy rains in Sindh, in particular. Hundreds have been killed and 10 millions on the roads again. There is an emergency situation in most of the Sindh districts. There is a total collapse of the civil life. The military has been called in and they are doing some relief work and rescuing people.

“I just saw on television hundreds of starving flood victims attacking a government food store and looting everything. People are desperate. The Labour Relief Campaign sent 300,000 rupees [more than $3500] yesterday to our Sindh comrades to buy medicines for the flood victims.

"We have set up camps in Hyderabad to collect funds. The Labour Relief Campaign committee is meeting this evening in Lahore to discuss further relief efforts.”

Donations can be sent to:

Account: Labour Education Foundation
Account number: 01801876
Route: Please advise and pay to Citi Bank, New York, USA Swift CITI US 33 for onward transfer to BANK ALFALAH LTD., KARACHI, PAKISTAN A/C No. 36087144 and for final transfer to BANK ALFALAH LTD., LDA PLAZA, KASHMIR ROAD, LAHORE, PAKISTAN Swift: ALFHPKKALDA for A/C No. 01801876 OF LABOUR EDUCATION FOUNDATION.

 

Comments

Protest message from Communist Party of Pakistan

COMMUNIST PARTY OF PAKISTAN STRONGLY CONDENMS THE ARM TWISTING TACTICTS OF
GOVERNMENT OF GILGIT BILTISTAN AND DEMANDS IMMEDIAT RELEASE OF COMRADE BABAJAN,
MEMBER FEDERAL COMMITTEE OF LPP. IT IS MOST UNFORTUNATE THAT PRIME INVESTIGATION
AGENCY OF PAKISTAN, INSTEAD OF BEING CONFINED TO ITS ORIGINAL ROLL, IS DRAGGED
INTU TO PERFORM FUNNCTIONS WHICH SHOULD USUALLY BE PERFORMED BY INVESTIGATION
DEPARTMENTS OF MUCH LOWER STATUS, IT, NOT ONLY, FURTHER DAMAGES THE ALREADY
DISTORTED IMAGE OF ISI BUT ALSO SERVE THE PURPOSE OF ENEMIES OF PEOPLE OF
PAKISTAN. IN COMPLETE
SOLIDARITY DR. MAZHER......MEMBER CENTRAL
SECRETARIAT C.P.P

solidarity statement

Free Baba Jan and all political prisoners!
Reparations for the victims of police violence!
Reparations for the victims of the landslide of July 4!

Last August 11, Pakistani police used 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, in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, destroyed several houses and important roads. De local administration abanoned the affected community and pocketed compensation payments intended for several affected families.

When villagers demonstrated on August 11, on the occasion of the arrival of the minister for the province, police responded with lethal violence, killing Afzal Baig (22 years old), and his father, Sher Ullah Baig (50 years old). In reaction, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up, and for four days the population took control of the city. To calm the people, authorities claimed that prosecutions had begun against the police officers responsible for the killings and granted financial compensation to the grieving families. This was only a manouvre to prepare a new wave of repression. On August 19, 36 people were arrested, among them ten members of the Labor Party of Pakistan (LPP), six of whom remain in detention. A new wave of arrests began on September 16, with 33 arrests.

Baba Jan, a member of the federal committee of the LPP and a leader of the Progressive Youth Front, was very involved in the popular protests. He initially escaped arrest on August 19 and went underground. However, he was in danger of being summarily executed (“disappeared”) if found by the police. The area of Gilgit-Baltistan is well-known for violations of Human Rights by the authorities. Baba Jan chose to give himself up to the authorities, a month after going underground, but not before holding a press conference so that no one could be unaware of what might happen to him. According to information obtained by the LPP, Baba Jan was removed from his cell by the Pakistani secret services – the ISI - and tortured for two days: suspended by ropes, and severely beaten.

Jan Baba and others are the targets of repression because they played an important part in making known the scandal of July 4, 2010 and its sequels. The authorities are now using violence and repression to try and cover up their abandonment and cheating of the victims of the July 4 landslide and the killings commited by its police.

We strongly condemn the Pakistani government for using violence, arrest and intimidation as a method to try to silence people's just demands and the people's protest against its repressive policies.

We demand:
That the government of Pakistan immediately and unconditionally releases Baba Jan and all other political prisoners.
That the government of Pakistan compensates the victims of the July 4 landslide and police violence.
That the government of Pakistan prosecutes the police and intelligence officials responsible for Human Rights violations.

We call on all socialist and progressive movements and Human Rights organisations, in South East Asia and the world, to give solidarity to the political prisoners and condemn the Human Rights violations commited by the Pakistani securityservices. We fully support the people's movement in Gilgit-Baltistan in their struggle.

Signed by:

1. People’s Liberation Party of Indonesia
2. The Centre of Student Movement for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN) Indonesia
3. Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party Philippines)
4.Indonesian Labor Movement of Unity (PPBI)
5. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) / Socialist Party of Malaysia
6. Democratic Association of the Youth (SDK) Philippines
7. Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Woman) Indonesia
8. International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE) Manila Philippines
9. Revolutionary Workers Party - Mindanao Philippines
10. Nouveau Party Anticapitaliste (NPA - New Anticapitalist Party) France
11. ...

Note: Please send your name/organization to politic.ofthepoor@gmail.com to support this statement. Follow updates of the struggle in https://www.facebook.com/groups/124069531026580/?ref=ts

http://kprm-prd-english.blogspot.com/2011/09/solidarity-statement-free-b...

Socialist Alliance in Australia has also signed the above

Socialist Alliance in Australia has also signed the above statement.

Release Baba Jan -- Socialist Alliance protest letter

To: Mr Abdul Malik Abdullah
High Commissioner for Pakistan
4 Timbarra Crescent, O'Malley ACT 2606
parepcanberra@internode.on.net

Cc: Mr Azam Mohammed
Consul General for Pakistan (Sydney, Australia)
Level 7, 32 Martin Place, Sydney 2000
parepsydne@comcen.com.au

 

September 22, 2011

Dear Mr Abdul Malik Abdullah,

We are writing to ask for your urgent intervention with the government of Pakistan to secure the release of Mr Baba Jan and five other political prisoners currently detained in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr Baba Jan is a leader of both the highly respected Labour Party Pakistan and the Progressive Youth Front in the region.

During a peaceful demonstration on August 11 by local residents of Gilgit-Baltistan demanding the payment of compensation allowances due to them following the devastating flood and landslide in the valley of Hunza on July 4, 2010, the police opened fired on the protesters, killing Afzal Baig (22 years old), then his father, Sher Ullah Baig (50 years old) who was trying to protect him. The following day, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up, clashing with the police. On August 19, in an attempt to silence the protesters and conceal these murders from public view, 36 people were picked up by police, then another 33 were picked up on September 16.

After  initially avoiding arrest, Baba Jan gave himself up to authorities – not because he has committed any crime, but under threat of  being “disappeared” if he was captured, a victim of an “extrajudicial execution”. The judge had sent Baba Jan to prison on judicial remand. However, he dragged from his by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and tortured for two days - suspended by ropes and severely beaten – in an attempt to extract false confessions from him.

We are aware that these events in Gilgit-Baltistan have featured on the front pages of Pakistan’s national press, as they should have: the inhumane treatment of Baba Jan and the other prisoners, whose only “crime” was to speak up for the basic human rights of fellow Pakistanis, has outraged all those who respect democracy and justice.

We in Australia have joined the international campaign to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Jan Baba and the other prisoners.

We also join with the Asian Human Rights Commission in calling for an end to the repression in Gilgit-Baltistan, and insist that the government of Pakistan prosecutes the police and intelligence officials responsible for these violations of human rights.

We ask you to insist to your government that the false charges against the demonstrators be dropped, and that full compensation be paid to all the people affected by the landslide of July 4, 2010.

We look forward to your swift response on this issue, and to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Peter Boyle
National Convener
Socialist Alliance

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