BRIEFING ON HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN SINDH
Dr Haleem Bhatti
World Sindhi Congress
4th Session of Human Rights Council
United Nations Geneva
Date: 28th March 2007
Briefing Organised by:
· General Preamble
· Background of Sindh
· Sindh and Pakistan
· Current situation in Sindh
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen
First and foremost I am thankful to Interfaith International to organise this event and provide World Sindhi Congress the opportunity to present the plight of Sindhi and Baloch people in present day Pakistan.
Let me briefly introduce myself and my organisation. I am representing the World Sindhi Congress, a non-profit making organisation based in the UK, USA, Canada and Sindh. Our main objective is to create better understanding among the international community about the disadvantage status of Sindhis in Pakistan, and about Sindhi peoples struggle for human rights, including the right of self-determination. I consider todays occasion as an opportunity to reach out to the International community.
Background of Sindh
Although, one of the oldest human settlements going back to over 20,000 years have been discovered in Sindh, however, the oldest written testament available from the Indian subcontinent, the Vedas, confirm that Sindh has been an independent country and Sindhis have been an independent nation for at least last 5000 years. The unbelievable achievements of Sindhi civilisation is depicted in the ruins of Mohen-jo-Daro, a city spread over 20 km2 with most modern concepts in urban planning and scores of other archaeological sites of the Indus civilisation.
Unfortunately, the proud inheritors of this great civilisation, Sindhis, have been under the constant colonial yoke for last over 160 years, for about 100 years under British colonial rule and 60 years of continuing ruthless colonial rule of Punjabi army.
Sindh and Pakistan
There were three main straits of political thought in Sindhi nations struggle against British colonialism, first to be completely independent, second to be part of undivided India and third to be part of newly proposed state of Pakistan. The colonisers ruthlessly suppressed the movement for independent Sindh. The leaders and main activist of the movement were hanged, thousand were killed and many more were displaced and were put in open jails and barbed ghettos.
At that time for people who believed in the betterment of Sindhi people Pakistan appeared to be a more acceptable option as it offered the joining units a status of autonomous and sovereign. The so called Pakistan resolution that laid the basis of formation of Pakistan states:
that the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern and zones of India should be grouped to constitute ‘Independent State’ in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
Instead of an autonomous and sovereign unit, what Sindh had once, Pakistan emerged in 1947.
In Sindh through a sinister conspiracy the Sindhi Hindu population was forced to leave and alien population from India was brought, settled and was handed over all the property of Sindhi people. The continuous flux of foreign people in Sindh has resulted in the decrease of Sindhi population decreased from 93% at 1947 to about 60% now. The alien people consider themselves superior to indigenous people and use their manipulated advantages and terrorism to further harm the genuine historical interests of the Sindhi people.
- About 40% of fertile land given to military personnel and people from other provinces
- The social, cultural, lingual, political, educational and economic development systematically halted and institutions destroyed
- Democratic and human rights movements crushed people massacred and sent to prisons
- Always ruled from the centre by antidemocratic, autocratic and mostly military regimes, like the one presently ruling Pakistan
- All the natural resources and revenues grabbed by the centre
- Anti-environment, anti-people mega water projects completed and designed to destroy the livelihood of Sindhi people.
Current situation in Sindh
- The gross violations of human rights are rampant in present day Pakistan. In last two years a sinister wave of kidnappings, torture, illegal detentions of Sindhi and Baloch political activists has started. Pakistans military establishment is carrying out these atrocities. Over forty Sindhi and over one thousand Baloch political activists have disappeared. The Sindhi kidnapped activists include former Chairman of World Sindhi Congress, Dr Safdar Sarki, Asif Baladi, Nawaz Zaour and Zulfiqar Kolachi Sayed Asghar, Mazhar Bhatti, Mansoor Mari, Sikander Soomro Rafiq Laghari, Ghulam Nabi, Tahir Soomro, Faiz Chandio, Umar Tewno, Sanaullah Bhatti Shabir Mallah, Imran Laghari, Fayaz Janwari, Aslam Soomro, Sattar Hakro, Muzaffar Bhutto, Muhram Mallah, Ahmad Tewno, Zulfiqar Khaskheley. The whereabouts of all these kidnapped workers are unknown and we seriously fear for their lives. In May 2006, Senior Vice Chairman of a Sindhi Nationalist organisation (Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz), Sameeullah Kalhoro, was tortured to death. In June 1992, Shaheed Yusuf Jakhrani, Vice Chairman, World Sindhi Congress was brutally tortured to death by the security forces of Pakistan.
The crime of the secular and democratic people of Sindh and Balochistan is that they want to live with dignity and peace in their motherland and not under the yoke of religious fundamentalist military establishment of Pakistan who are a serious threat to regional and international security and peace.
We know that the disappeared Baluch and Sindhi political activists are being subjected to inhumane, barbaric and humiliating torture that include severe beatings, electric shocks to genitals and parts of body, hanging them with hands and legs chained for days, putting acid on genitals and other delicate parts of the body. We do not know that how many of them have lost their lives.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, leaders of many political parties, Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan, scores of legislators, numerous civil rights groups and NGOs have raised clear and unambiguous voice, concern, anguish and anxiety against the forced disappearances and inhumane torture of political activists. However, the Pakistans military establishment doesnt seem to be bothered by the protests of International organisations and continue to carry out crimes against humanity and violations to basic human rights safeguarded in the UN charter of human rights.
- Pakistan army is carrying out a ruthless military operation in Balochistan that has resulted in a huge loss of civilian life that include hundreds of children, women and elderly. Thousands of civilians have displaced as a direct result of military operation. Pakistan army in a target attack claimed to kill 79 year nationalist leader of Balochistan, Nawab Akbar Bugti, and against all the norms of any basic decency the establishment neither showed the body of the slain leader nor handed over the body to his family. Therefore, it is very difficult to say whether the leader is still in the shackles of the army. Recently another nationalist leader, Nawab Akhtar Mengal, ex Chief Minister of Balochistan, has been illegally detained, kept in solitary confinement and tortured.
- The continuous exploitation, looting of resources, no investment in people, deliberately crippling the social and economic progress of Sindhi people has resulted in social and economic catastrophe and associated implications, that never has been witnessed previously in Sindh. Sindh that contributes two thirds of Pakistans total wealth has over 50% of population in rural areas below absolute poverty line. Almost half of the children are never enrolled even for basic primary education. Unemployment is rampant among the educated Sindhi youth. On average there are 6 incidents of suicide per day, one of the highest suicidal rates in the current world. This is a direct result of economic and resulting social pressures.
- The secular and democratic people of Sindh as a gesture of good will and bring harmony and development to Sindhi society extended hand of friendship to MQM. But now when all the affairs in Sindh are run by MQM, they have joined hands with the ISI and have committed vicious crimes against Sindhi people. They have made it law that Sindhi youth are not eligible to apply for jobs in the multinational companies in Karachi. You cannot find an example that the indigenous people are made ineligible to even apply for jobs in their own motherland. Doors of educational institutions in Karachi have been shut for native Sindhis. MQM has actively persuaded conspiracy for gerrymandering, divide Sindh and change demographic composition of Sindh. MQM has closed scores of Sindhi schools in Sindh and has destroyed countless ancestral villages of Sindhi people. MQM in the patronage of an immigrant military dictator, General Musharaf, and another immigrant Prime Minster of Pakistan is hatching and pursuing conspiracy on a daily basis against the genuine historical rights of Sindhi people. We remind them that it will be very difficult for history to absolve them of these crimes against humanity.
- The work on anti-environment and anti-people mega projects such as Thal canal and LBOD is nearing completion regardless of tens of thousands of protests and demands from three provincial assemblies, NGOs and civil and political organisations. The purpose and impact of these projects will be that Sindh a thriving civilisations will me snatched of its basic lifeline, river Indus. The results of these projects will be detrimental and irreversible for the people of Sindh.
Honourable delegates ladies and gentlemen,
Sindh and Sindhis need your help. We the Sindhis need your help against the anti human rights onslaught designed to uproot and enslave Sindhi people in their own motherland. We need your help to stop the vicious and venomous attack by Pakistans military establishment and MQM on our basic right to live as human beings with dignity in our ancestral motherland.
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