Jailed socialist candidate Baba Jan and supporters outside the Supreme Court at Gilgit on 22 May, before police took him back to jail.
Candidate for the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP) Baba Jan will contest a May 28 by-election for the assembly of the Pakistani-administered Himalayan territory of Gilgit-Baltistan from his jail cell. Baba Jan has been described as a climate justice prisoner. In 2010, his home area in Hunza was devastated by climate change-fuelled floods and landslides. A protest movement developed against the misappropriation of relief funds. Police responded with brutality and protesters were killed and arrested.
A massive wave of repression against the militant but peaceful peasant movement — the Anjuman Mozareen Punjab (AMP) — is underway. Most of its leadership have been arrested on false charges under anti-terrorist laws. Dozens are missing while more than 50 remain behind bars. All have been declared “terrorists” by the Okara district police, working hand in hand with the Military Farms administration, which mainly serves military officers.
Sarah Eleazar is a Pakistani journalist and member of the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP). She co-edits Tajdeed, a left research journal in Urdu. Eleazar will be a featured guest at the Socialist for the 21st Century conference in Sydney on May 13-15. She spoke with Green Left Radio on Melbourne community station 3CR in March about the fight for women’s liberation and socialism in Pakistan. The first part of an abridged transcript is below. ***
Okara, April 17. A gathering of thousands of peasants in the Okara District of Punjab, to mark International Peasants Day on April 17, went ahead despite a violent crackdown by the police, paramilitaries and the army. The gathering was organised by the Tenants Association of Punjab (AMP) and supported by the Awami Workers Party (AWP).
A series of suicide bombings in Brussels on March 22 killed 35 people, including 3 suicide bombers. Less than a week later, on March 27, a similar attack in Lahore, Pakistan, killed more than twice as many people — at least 75. The response from media and politicians amply illustrated the truism that Western lives matter more to them than those of people in Third World countries. The amount of reporting and expressions of condolences was, as is the norm, in inverse proportion to the numbers killed.
Protests erupted throughout Pakistan after the shooting dead on the picket line of three striking workers at Karachi Airport on February 2. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) employees were part of a nationwide strike against the privatisation of the state-owned airline. One of those killed, Inayat Raza, was a veteran trade unionist and former leader of the left-wing National Students' Federation (NSF) in Karachi in the 1980s.
The following statement was released by Socialist Alliance (Australia) on February 3. * * * Socialist Alliance (Australia) condemns the murder by the Pakistani military on January 30 of Dr Mannan Baloch, Secretary General of Baloch National Movement (BNM), and four other BNM members. According to eyewitnesses, the military attacked the house where they were staying with mortar fire, then troops entered and shot each of the occupants in the chest and head. The youngest victim was just 19 years old. All the victims were unarmed.
Temperatures across the Middle East this week have soared in an unprecedented heat wave, forcing residents to stay indoors. In the Iranian city of Basrah, located in the epicentre of the heat wave, temperatures exceeded 48°C for the seventh day in a row on August 1. On the same day, the Iraq capital of Baghdad sweltered through its fourth consecutive day of temperatures higher than 48 degrees. Governments from both countries have been forced to declare public holidays to protect people from the sweltering temperatures.
Police evict I-11 residents. Photo: Awami Workers Party. Thousands of residents of Sector I-11 informal settlements in Islamabad faced off against armed police and bulldozers of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to prevent them from demolishing their homes on July 27.
Protest by Awami Workers Party-Sindh against exacerbation of heatwave by corruption and electricity privatisation. Hyderabad, Sindh, June 28. Photo: Awami Workers Party-Sindh/ Facebook. The death toll in Pakistan's devastating heat wave shot past 1000 on June 25. This makes it the worst heat wave to hit the country's southern city of Karachi in at least 35 years.
On May 18, Baba Jan was declared the official candidate of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) by the returning officer of Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly constituency Hunza 6. Baba Jan is in jail serving a life sentence. This is the first time in the history of the Hunza Valley that a political activist will contest general elections from jail. Gilgit-Baltistan is a Himalayan territory administered by Pakistan.
In April last year, the government of the Marshall Islands announced it would be taking nine nations — China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Britain and the US — to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague over their possession of nuclear weapons. The Marshallese have paid a heavy price for other countries’ nuclear weapons. After World War II, they were incorporated into the United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands administered by the US.
The following statement was released by Aasim Sajjad Akhtar, Punjab president of the Awami Workers Party, in response to the Pakistani government stating it intended to join the US-backed Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen. * * *
The Awami Workers Party held a protest in Islamabad on March 17 against the Pakistani establishment's response to recent terrorist attacks. The establishment's response has been a mixture of inaction, misdirected repression, collusion with terrorists and promotion of their communalist and religious fundamentalist ideology.
The following statement was released by Aid/Watch, an independent monitor of international aid and trade, on March 5. * * * Australia spends $577 million a year on aid for Papua New Guinea (PNG). Two key focus areas are anti-corruption related — law and justice, and governance. PNG has concurrently undertaken a number of national processes to combat corruption without Australian support.