Human Rights and Security in Balochistan Highlighted During UNPO Delegation’s Visit to Washington DC
Mr Nasser Boladai, Spokesperson of the Balochistan People’s Party (BPP) and President of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO) visited Washington D.C. last week [16 November 2015] together with Johanna Green, UNPO Program Manager. The trip, ending on the 20th of the same month, functioned as a means of raising awareness of the plight of the people of Balochistan, highlighting the extensive human rights violations taking place in both Iran and Pakistan against the Baloch people. It also provided an opportunity to inform and draw attention to UNPO and the work of the organisation.
The Delegation had the opportunity to establish fresh dialogues with Congressmen, Senators and Administration Officials new to the Baloch cause, as well as to renew ties and continue a joint narrative with long-time advocates and supporters of Balochistan.
This round of meetings came freshly after the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, which has polarized many House Representatives and Senators. The impact of this deal will not go without consequences for the Baloch and other minorities within Iran, as it gives the regime a ‘green light’ to intensify human rights violations against these peoples with increased funds available after the lifting of sanctions. Moreover, coinciding with the Delegation’s trip to Washington DC was the visit of Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief, to the US capital. Given the Pakistani army’s hold over key security and foreign policy issues in the country - the former including a brutal crackdown on the Baloch people, the Delegation found it important to raise awareness of the appalling conditions faced by Baloch activists. A key message conveyed during the meetings was that the US government should consider engaging not only with governments, but also with peoples who might provide better allies than the oppressive regimes of Iran and Pakistan.
The visit to the US capital came shortly after the District of Columbia was inaugurated as UNPO’s newest member on 7 November 2015. The fortuitous circumstances allowed Mr Boladai and Ms Green to engage in activities for their newest member, seeking to become the 51st State of the USA. Mr Boladai made a TV appearance on the local station D.C. Statehood Today were he was interviewed by Ms Deneysha Richard. Building on this DC Senator Paul Strauss joined the pair during a lecture about UNPO and DC’s continuous denial of statehood at UCD’s (University of the District of Columbia) Law School. Finally on Thursday 19 November 2015, Senator Strauss, alongside Senator Michael D. Brown and Representative Franklin Garcia hosted a ‘Welcome Reception’ for UNPO with the support of Students for DC Statehood.