AWP-UK demands release of Baba Jan and others, withdrawal of cases against them
Party activists holds protest demo outside Pakistan High Commission as part of worldwide campaign for release of Baba jan and 11 others
London: The Awami Workers Party UK chapter (AWP-UK) organised a protest demo as part of the worldwide campaign in solidarity with Baba Jan and 12 other political prisoners from Gilgit-Baltistan in front of Pakistan High Commission here on Sunday. Baba Jan, a political activist and federal committee member of the left-wing AWP from Gilgit-Baltistan along with his 12 comrades were sentenced by an anti-terrorism court to 40 years imprisonment. The conviction was upheld by the Supreme Appellate Court in Gilgit on June 9.
They are in jail for the last five years.
The AWP members as well as supporters from different walks of life participated in the protest demo.
Addressing the participants, AWP-UK President Dr Ahmad Touheed said: “We call upon the state [GB government] to free Baba Jan and his friends.”
“We stand united with the people of Gilgit-Baltistan and demand for a free and fair election in the region,” he added.
He termed the decision of GB Supreme Appellate Court unjust and politically motivated.
“The people of Gilgit-Baltistan have not lost faith in the political struggle,” AWP-UK general secretary Mustafa Kamal said while addressing the participants. “They are tired of interference from the Centre in their affairs and want to be treated equally,” he added.
Baba Jan and his friends have been convicted on trumped up charges and political experts believe that it aims at perpetuating the colonial rule in GB by and suppress the voice of the local people by putting their leader behind bars.
Amram Yousaf, party organiser said, “The sentencing of Baba Jan and his companions shows how anti-terrorism legislation is used to suppress the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. It also shows that there is a widespread abuse of national security laws in the country.”
Through a resolution the AWP-UK calls upon the Gilgit-Baltistan authorities to release Baba Jan, his 11 friends and other political prisoners wrongfully convicted to life term jail by an Anti-Terrorism Court on 25th Sept 2014 in Gilgit, upheld by the Supreme Appellate Court on June 9th, 2016 as well as other political prisoners.
The party also calls for making public the findings of a judicial inquiry report into the killing of a disaster-hirt man and his son in Aliabad and acted upon. The AWP also calls upon the GB authorities to arrest and trial the police official who gunned down the two protesters.
The party also demands the Pakistan government to withdraw extension and application of the Anti-Terrorism Act to Gilgit-Baltistan, which is a disputed territory and not a constitutional part of Pakistan. The region is being governed through bureaucracy and draconian laws depriving the people of GB of basic political and human rights, including representation in the national legislature.
The participants of the protest also called for an end to centralised, neo-colonial rule in Gilgit-Baltistan and abolition of GB Council and Kashmir Affairs Ministry and transferring of powers to GBLA and granting genuinely autonomy to the region and self-governance to the people.
They called for ensuring an independence of judiciary by appointing judges to the SAC and chief court through a judicial commission comprised of parliamentarians, bar councils/associations’ representatives and chief justices and not through Prime Minister’s secretariat.
Seven left-wing members of the Irish Parliament have joined the global campaign to support Baba Jan and other political prisoners in GB and demanded their immediate release.
The Asian Human Rights Commission has issued an urgent appeal demanding an immediate release of Baba Jan and the other rights defenders, and withdrawal of the charges against them. AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders calling for his intervention into the matter.
The AWP-UK will approach British member of parliament and trade unions to highlight the human and political rights for Pakistanis.