Pakistan: Left unites to condemn forced conversions

The Sindh Progressive Committee (SPC), which brings together activists from the Labour Party, Workers Party, Communist Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, National Party, Awami Party and Watan Dost Inquilaabi Party, held a rally on April 17 outside the Hyderabad Press Club in the southern Sindh province. The rally protested against the kidnapping, forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage of young Hindu women.

The rally was violently attacked by thugs belonging to the fundamentalist Sunni Tehreek party. Police intervened on the side of the aggressors and detained 22 SPC activists who have since been released but are still facing charges being pressed by the Sunni Tehreek.

Below is a statement released by Pakistani progressive organisations. It was signed by Abid Hasan Minto, president Workers Party Pakistan; Jamil Umer, general secretary Awami Party Pakistan; Younas Rahu, general secretary Labour Party Pakistan; Imdad Qazi, general secretary Communist Party Pakistan.

* * *

We, progressive organisations from all over Pakistan and Kashmir, jointly resolve to:

* Condemn the barbaric acts of kidnapping, forced conversion and "marriage" to strangers of Sindhi Hindu young women by powerful vested interests in connivance with so-called "religious" elements, whose heinous crimes bring shame to all Sindhis as well as to all Pakistani citizens;

* Stand in solidarity with Rinkle Kumari, Asha Kumari and other kidnapped young women, who have been forced to suffer the ultimate humiliation for the venality of the corrupt elite that rules Pakistan;

* Condemn the connivance of the state and the ruling oligarchy of coalition partners in these shameful, predatory attacks on a small and vulnerable minority;

* Demand that all kidnapped young women be recovered and allowed of their free will to re-join their families;

* Demand the arrest of all the criminals involved in this vicious, disruptive campaign of hate and expropriation;

* Demand that action be taken against the goons of the Sunni Tehreek who charged the rally of the Sindh Progressive Committee (SPC) in Hyderabad with batons and pelted the female participants with stones;

* Demand the immediate suspension of the head of the Madadgar 15 Thandi Sarak police station in Hyderabad for unlawfully detaining 22 members of the SPC, even though it was they who were attacked by the Sunni Tehreek goons;

* Demand an immediate withdrawal of the fabricated charges registered against the SPC activists;

* Thank all those citizens who sent messages of support to the jailed SPC activists and who helped negotiate their release;

* Continue our struggle against religious extremism and state terrorism and for a more inclusive and diverse society.