Oct 17, 2016

Balochistan: Campaign against CPEC Gathers Pace

Amid a greater impact of the official Chinese presence in the region, the Free Balochistan Movement (FMB) has lead an intensified protest and detailed awareness programme against Chinese authorities as the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) proceeds. FMB have organised a week-long sit in protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in London, to bring attention to how this plan is likely to lead the indigenous community to become a minority within their own region.

The article below is courtesy of the Sunday Guardian

The Free Balochistan Movement (FMB) in London has intensified protests and a political awareness programme against Chinese presence in Balochistan. The movement organised a week-long day and night sit-in protest in front of the Chinese embassy in London, which started on 25 September and ended on 1 October, the Chinese National Day. Supporters of the movement from many different nationalities visited the protest camp, including renowned British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell. The sit-in protest ended with a huge demonstration, where a large number of the Baloch diaspora participated. Protesters chanted slogans against Pakistan and China and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Chinese and Pakistani militaries from Balochistan.

“China has stationed its People’s Liberation Army in the Gwadar area and wants to permanently use our ports for military purposes,” said Hyrbyair Marri, leader of the Free Balochistan movement, while speaking to the participants. China has invested $46 billion in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China’s communist regime wants to link the strategic Gwadar deep seaport with Kashgar city, located in north-west China. In recent years, Chinese officials and experts have openly desired to use Balochistan’s ports for their strategic military purposes. In February 2013, former Chinese ambassador to India, Pei Yuanying said in an interview that “Gwadar port will become a logistics support base for supplies and maintenance along the route of the large fleet when the Chinese naval fleet goes to Suez Canal, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf of Aden.” The experts believe that Chinese presence in Gwadar would reduce US influence in the Arabian Sea and help China to encircle emerging India. If the Sino-Pakistan project succeeds it would be a disaster for Baloch nation because the small town of Gwadar would face a population influx of 2 million settlers from Punjab, which will turn the indigenous population into a minority in their own land.

The London protest against China was followed by protests in Balochistan and Canada. In Balochistan, FBM activists organised a huge demonstration in the suburb of Quetta. A large number of women and children blocked the national highway, carried pictures of Hyrbyair Marri and waved the flags of Balochistan. Safeer Baloch, organiser of the protest said that “We are protesting here against Chinese and Pakistani nexus, and against state oppression.” FBM activists have also organised a three-day campaign in front of Chinese consulate in Vancouver, Canada against Chinese involvement in Balochistan and the human rights violations that are being committed by the Pakistan army.

Currently, Balochistan is facing a human rights crisis, where more than 20,000 people have been enforced-disappeared and more than 3,000 people have been murdered. In mid-September, the decomposed dead body of 17-years-old Mohammad Jan was discovered from Panjgur area. He was abducted by the security forces during a football match in March 2013. The forces have also abducted several innocent people and students in the last few weeks, including a 14-year-old student, Amjid Sarduk and a student political leader, Shabir Baloch.

Photo Courtesy of the Sunday Guardian