Socialist Alliance joins call to free Baba Jan

Friday, October 7, 2011
Baba Jan (centre) speaking at a rally for victims of the Hunza landslide.

The statement below is a call for solidarity with jailed Pakistani activists, including the Labor Party Pakistan’s Baba Jan. It was released on September 22. To add your support to the statement email politic.ofthepoor@gmail.com.

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On August 11, Pakistani police used live bullets against people demanding payment of compensation allowances following a devastating landslide which had happened a year before in the valley of Hunza, on July 4, 2010.

This landslide, in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan, destroyed several houses and important roads. The local administration abandoned the affected community and pocketed compensation payments intended for several affected families.

When villagers demonstrated on August 11, on the occasion of the arrival of the minister for the province, police responded with lethal violence, killing Afzal Baig (22 years old), and his father, Sher Ullah Baig (50 years old).

In reaction, the population of Aliabad and other localities of Hunza rose up, and for four days the population took control of the city. To calm the people, authorities claimed that prosecutions had begun against the police officers responsible for the killings and granted financial compensation to the grieving families.

This was only a manouvre to prepare a new wave of repression. On August 19, 36 people were arrested, among them 10 members of the Labour Party of Pakistan (LPP), six of whom remain in detention. A new wave of arrests began on September 16, with 33 arrests.

Baba Jan, a member of the federal committee of the LPP and a leader of the Progressive Youth Front, was very involved in the popular protests.

He initially escaped arrest on August 19 and went underground. However, he was in danger of being summarily executed (“disappeared”) if found by the police.

The area of Gilgit-Baltistan is well known for violations of human rights by the authorities. Baba Jan chose to give himself up to the authorities, a month after going underground, but not before holding a press conference so that no one could be unaware of what might happen to him.

According to information obtained by the LPP, Baba Jan was removed from his cell by the Pakistan secret services — the ISI — and tortured for two days: suspended by ropes, and severely beaten.

Baba Jan and others are the targets of repression because they played an important part in making known the scandal of July 4, 2010, and its sequels.

The authorities are now using violence and repression to try and cover up their abandonment and cheating of the victims of the July 4 landslide and the killings committed by its police.

We strongly condemn the Pakistan government for using violence, arrest and intimidation as a method to try to silence people’s just demands and the people’s protest against its repressive policies.



We demand:

1. That the government of Pakistan immediately and unconditionally release Baba Jan and all other political prisoners.

2. That the government of Pakistan compensate the victims of the July 4 landslide and police violence.

3. That the government of Pakistan prosecute the police and intelligence officials responsible for human rights violations.

We call on all socialist and progressive movements and human rights organisations, in south east Asia and the world, to give solidarity to the political prisoners and condemn the human rights violations commited by the Pakistani security services.

We fully support the people's movement in Gilgit-Baltistan in their struggle.

Signed by:

Organisations
1. People’s Liberation Party of Indonesia
2. The Centre of Student Movement for National Liberation (PEMBEBASAN), Indonesia
3. Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party, Philippines)
4. Indonesian Labor Movement of Unity (PPBI)
5. Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) / Socialist Party of Malaysia
6. Democratic Association of the Youth (SDK), Philippines
7. Perempuan Mahardhika (Free Woman), Indonesia
8. International Institute for Research and Education (IIRE), Manila, Philippines
9. Revolutionary Workers Party-Mindanao, Philippines
10. Nouveau Party Anticapitaliste (NPA, New Anticapitalist Party), France
11. Socialist Alliance, Australia
12. Socialist Resistance, Britain
13. Socialist Alternative Politic (SAP), Netherlands
14. Japan Revolutionary Communist League (JRCL)
15. National Council of Internationalist Workers (NCIW), Japan
16. Radical Socialist, India
17. Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Philippines
18. Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB-ML)
19. Ecosocialists Unite
20. Reorganizing Committee-Working People's Asociation (KPO-PRP), Indonesia
21. Unite Union, Auckland
22. National Union of Bank Employees (NUBE), Malaysia
23. National Foundation Nowshera Virkan, Pakistan
24. Campaign against Climate Change Trade union group, Britain
25. SANLAKAS, Philippines
26. Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Australia
27. Revolutionary Socialist League (RSB), Germany
28. Solidarity, Australia
29. Radnicka Borba, Croatia

Personal

1. Jaya Vindhyala, Advocate President, PUCL-AP, Andhra Pradesh, India
2. AA Mirza, World Wide News, UK
3. Sarah Parker, member of Socialist Resistance editorial board, London
4. Mike Treen, national director, Unite Union, Auckland
5. Gulnaz Shaikh, Islamabad
6. Dr. Zahid Rana, executive director, National Foundation Nowshera Virkan, Pakistan

From GLW issue 898