Melbourne rally demands freedom for Pakistani political prisoners

Photo: Tony Iltis

A June 27 speakout in the Bourke Street Mall called for the freeing of political prisoners in Pakistan and condemned the Pakistani state’s use of the Western-sponsored “war on terror” as a pretext for cracking down on community activists and trade unionists. The speakout was use to collect signatures names on an international open letter.

The speakout was part of an international week of action focussing on the cases of Baba Jan and four other activists collectively known as the Hunza Five who have been held for organising protests for victims of landslides and flooding in the Himalayan territory of Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Faisalabad Six — activists jailed for organising a 100,000-strong strike of textile workers in 2010 were also a focus. The Faisalabad Six were sentenced to long terms for terrorism in 2011. The Hunza Five are facing charges under the same anti-terrorism laws.

The international week of action was also marked in Sri Lanka, Japan, France, Indonsia, the US and Germany. On June 26 the Chief Court of Gilgit-Baltistan ruled that Bab Jan should be bailed and he is likely to be released soon. However, the Labour Party Pakistan, of which Baba Jan is a leader, called for the campaign in Pakistan an internationally to continue until the charges against the Hunza Five were dropped and the Faisalabad Six, also LPP members, were released.