Thanks to an international campaign, climate activist Baba Jan and three fellow political prisoners were finally freed on November 28, writes Susan Price.
Protest against sentencing of Baba Jan at his native village, Nasirabad, in Hunza on June 12. Photo: Awami Workers Party.
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.
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.
A powerful popular protest is sweeping through the Pakistani-occupied disputed territory of Gilgit Baltistan. Since April 15, an indefinite sit-in strike (dharna) has been waged, uniting for the first time groups from a range of political and religious backgrounds against the removal of a longstanding wheat subsidy. On April 22 protesters will converge in a "long march" on Gilgit, the territory’s capital to surround the offices of local puppet government authority.