Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Pakistani activist protest ethnic cleansing of Baloch

photos: Veteran Sindhi activist Rasul Baksh Palijo addressing demonstrators, Humaira Rahman interviewed & Dr. Malek Towghi demonstrating-pics/Saleem Samad

World Sindhi Institute, USA
Press Release
Monday, February 06, 2006

Rally for Rights

Washington, D.C: The Pakistan Embassy in Washington D.C. was the venue of the first of a series of protest rallies organized by the World Sindhi Institute in collaboration with Sindhi Association of North America, World Sindhi Congress, Global Pushtun Institute, Baloch Society of North America, Baloch Human Rights International, and Torture Abolition Survivors Supports Coalition International.

The rally was organized to register protest against the current military operation in Balochistan and the Government of Pakistan’s insistence on proceeding with the construction of mega dams on the river Indus.

Speaking at the rally Wahid Baloch of Bosnia, said that although General Musharaf claims that this operation is against three sardars this is not the case at all; this is a war between the Pakistan military and all the people of Balochistan. From Makran to Kohlu , from Kharan to Awaran and from Dera Bugti to Quetta all Baloch within Pakistan and abroad are united against the military dictatorship.

Walter Landry, Director of the of the Think Tank of Self Determination, said that every nation has the right to exercise self determination. He pointed out that it was this desire and this right that resulted in the break up of the Soviet Union and allowed these nations to develop according to their own needs and with their own resources.

Dr. Malek Towghi said that the Baloch have been struggling for their rights since 1947. He said that Gwadar port and Balochistan’s natural resources are for the Baloch

Basir Chand general secretary of the D.C. chapter of PPP said that the people are united against the military and condemn the operation in Balochistan; the ordinary people of Punjab do not want to go against the wishes of Sindh and believe that the decision to construct dams must be made by a representative government.

Saleem Samad a journalist from Bangladesh recalled how as a 19 year old student member of the Mukti Bahini he took part in the struggle against a brutal Pakistani army that raped hundreds of thousands of Bengali women. He said even though the Pakistan military tried to make us believe that they were invincible we fought valiantly because we were united in our goal of achieving liberation for a secular and independent Bangladesh. Perhaps had Bangladesh conducted proceedings against the war crimes of the Pakistani army at the time, our Baloch and Sindhi brothers and sisters would not be suffering today.

Humaira Rahman, Director of the World Sindhi Institute pointed out that when Shaukat Aziz and General Musharaf promote the agenda of the World Bank they act as foreign agents not as patriotic Pakistanis; when Sindhis and Baloch speak up against human rights violations they are branded as foreign agents by these same elements. She said that general Musharaf is using the tax dollars of Americans and Canadians to silence dissent against military rule while fooling western governments.

Rasul Baksh Palijo said that today’s Pakistan is not the Pakistan of Mohammed Ali Jinnah; Sindh joined Pakistan on the basis of the 1940 Lahore resolution which envisaged that the center would control defense, foreign affairs and currency while all other issues would remain in the domain of the provinces. The situation in the country today is fast approaching that which prevailed in 1971 when Bangladesh became independent. The acute shortage of river water in the delta and coastal areas is leading to desertification.
Munawar Laghari appealed to international organizations to conduct independent investigations of the human rights violations taking place in Sindh and Balochistan. He said that all the oppressed nations of Pakistan want to live within the federation of Pakistan with dignity, peace, and justice and equal rights. However the military and ruling elite are pushing them to a point where they feel that the only avenue left is that of self determination.

Wearing symbolic ajrak scarfs the rally participants delivered a memorandum to the Embassy of Pakistan outlining their concerns and demands. #

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