Open Letter Demanding the Release of Baba Jan Hunzai- Noam Chomsky


  • by Signed by Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Farooq Tariq…

    FREEBABAJAN2.jpg
  • For the past 8 months Baba Jan Hunzai and four fellow activists have languished in various jails of Gilgit. Twice in this period he has been removed from jail and tortured by military and police agents.  He and his colleagues have been charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Ordinance.  Baba Jan, however, is not a terrorist.  He is a respected political activist of Gilgit-Baltistan (the mountainous north of Pakistan). He is being held due to his activism in support of the oppressed of the region and must be released immediately.

    In January 2010, a mountain collapsed into Hunza River and created what is now termed the Attabad Lake.  As the lake formed, village after village was submerged.  In total, over 1000 were displaced and over 25,000 were cut off from the rest of the country (the lake had destroyed the one road that connects the area to Pakistan).  The plight of Gilgit-Baltistanis was ignored. Baba Jan, an activist of Labour Party of Pakistan, toured the country lobbying for the government to drain the lake and create transport facilities for the affected. The Pakistan Peoples Party government acted too late.  The lake is now a permanent feature of the area. To off-set the protests of the displaced, the government promised compensation.

    For some, compensation never arrived.  An official list of those who were to receive compensation named 457 families.  However, over a hundred of these families did not receive their compensation. Allegedly, the compensation, instead, went to families who were sympathizers of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

    On 11th August around 200 people protested for the rights of those families who had not received compensation as the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mehdi Shah, was visiting the town of Aliabad.  The police, instructed to remove the protesters by any means, started with a baton-charge, then used tear gas before opening fire with live ammunition. Their first victim was Afzal Baig, a 22 year old student. Then, when Baig’s father tried to retrieve the body of his son, he too was shot. Both died. The valley erupted and a police station was burnt down by the protesters.

    Baba Jan arrived 6 hours later. He organised the protesters and they were promised an investigation and firm action against the police officers responsible for the killing.  The protesters waited for the government to act.

    It acted a week later.  Arrest warrants were issued for numerous protesters including Baba Jan.  While most of those arrested have been released on bail, Baba Jan and 4 activists remain behind bars.  Twice they have been picked up from jail and tortured.  First, starting on the 12th of September 2011,   for three nights for three to four hours at a time, he was beaten with sticks and had his feet crushed under boots, while, another activist (Iftikhar) had candle wax dropped on his genitals.  Again on the 28th of April 2012, Baba Jan was tortured.  Police and Pakistani Rangers (a paramilitary force) entered his jail cell and beat him up. They then whisked him to an unknown location where he was again brutally beaten, and to humiliate him, had his head shaved. He has fractured fingers and is being denied medical treatment. Further, he has been moved to Zulfiqarabad Jail, Gilgit, and put in a cell with hardened criminals.  There is reason to believe that he may be killed ‘accidentally’ while in this cell.

    Meanwhile, a judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and his father was conducted.  Its findings have not been made public but journalists who have seen it claim it lays the blame on the police force and local bureaucracy for the incident.

     

    We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Pakistan to publish the findings of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and Sher Ullah Baig.  We call on the Government of Pakistan to treat Baba Jan and fellow activists as political prisoners and kept in separate cells from other prisoners.  Further, we ask the Government of Pakistan to drop the charge it has manufactured against Baba Jan and fellow activists. We also demand compensation for the families affected by the Attabad landslide.

     

    Tariq Ali, Writer

    Noam Chomsky, MIT

    Qalandar Bux Memon, FC College

    Pervaiz Vandal, Architect

    Amanullah Kariapper, Activist

    R C Young, New York University

    Vijay Prashad, Trinity College

    Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Birkbeck, University Of London

    David Barsamian, Journalist

    Magid Shihade, Birzeit University

    Saadi Toor, Writer

    Farooq Tariq, Labour Party of Pakistan

    Simon Crithcley, New School, New York

     

    Please go sign petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-baba-jan

    original post here

Baba Jan, ‘prisoner of climate change’ in Pakistan tortured


Letter of protest

May 3, 2012

To:

His Excellency Mr Abdul Malik Abdullah
High Commissioner for Pakistan
4 Timbarra Crescent, O’Malley
ACT 2606

parepcanberra@internode.on.net

Cc: Mr Azam Mohammed
Consul General for Pakistan
Level 7, 32 Martin Place,
Sydney 2000

parepsydne@comcen.com.au

Dear Sir,

We have been informed by the Labour Party of Pakistan that Baba Jan, Waqar and other activists in Gilgit district jail were severely beaten and tortured by dozens of Rangers, Police and Frontier Constabulary in the early morning of April 28, 2012.

We are especially concerned for the fate of Baba Jan, who was taken from the Gilgit district jail by security personnel and transported to a place unknown.

We strongly protest against this violence and object to the prison authorities’ ban on visitors to these political activists. It would seem that the responsible authorities have failed in their duty to maintain safe custody of these persons. This kind of treatment of political activists should not be acceptable in a democratic Pakistan.

We are writing to request that that you pass on to your government our urgent request that Baba Jan, Waqar and all other activists be released from custody immediately and that the ban by Gilgit district jail authorities on vistors to these activists be lifted. Further, we ask you to please determine and advise us of the location of Baba Jan and any others taken from Gilgit district jail?

The Gilgit district jail authorities should publicly indicate the health status of each of Baba Jan, Waqar and the other activists – their families are also very worried. They are considered to be in dire need of medical assistance – something the authorities should facilitate. We request that they are immediately released and, if necessary, be promptly transferred to hospital.

We are extremely anxious for the safety of the above persons, and wish to have information as to their legal and health status as soon as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you soon about this matter as we are having emergency discussions with concerned prominent individuals, Members of Parliament in Australia, media and human rights organisations about future action on this case. Further, our European office is briefing organisations and MPS in that region about this concern.

There is a very broad layer of people around the world who are concerned about the fate of Baba Jan and his fellow activists because they are seen as political casualties of the deepening global climate change crisis. They are imprisoned for their roles in the campaign by poor local residents who were demanding compensation for the devastating landslide and flood in the Hunza Valley in 2010.

International flood relief campaigns for Pakistan have also increased public awareness of the situation. The success of future emergency appeals could be compromised if there were serious concerns that the victims of flooding and their advocates are being mistreated by Pakistani officials at any level of government.

For all the abovementioned reasons, it would be a good idea for the Government of Pakistan to act most promptly on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Boyle
National Co-Convenor
Socialist Alliance (Australia)

For background information see:

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

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