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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.

 

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