DC Conference: “Scales of Injustice: The Geopolitics of Business, State-Sponsored Extremism and the Absence of Democracy in Balochistan”
5 October 2017 | 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
The Hill Center, John Philip Sousa Hall | 921 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003
On 5 October 2017 at 2:00 pm the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) will organise a conference entitled “Scales of Injustice: The Geopolitics of Business, State-Sponsored Extremism and the Absence of Democracy in Balochistan”. The event will provide a platform for a critical discussion on the human rights situation in both the Iranian and Pakistani part of Balochistan and the geopolitical and economic interests at stake in the region.
Despite having ratified some of the most important human rights treaties, Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran are trapped in state-induced spirals of violence which put the entire region in a state of permanent instability. Most affected by the state’s excessive use of violence are religious and ethnic minorities and, above all, the people of Balochistan. Gross human rights violations, such as torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are still the order of the day on both sides of the border. Despite local human rights defenders’ struggle to address these systematic abuses, Tehran and Islamabad use intimidation tactics to silence anyone who dares bringing these heinous crimes to light, thereby leaving the population without effective means to bring perpetrators to justice. Both governments deliberately use radical Islam to undermine and discredit peaceful Baloch movements. Meanwhile, partners in the West often pay mere lip service to changing the status quo. Their half-hearted approach oscillates between public allegiance to international human rights norms and realpolitik based on considerations of power and economic interests.
Worsening an already fragile situation, ethnic minorities in the Pakistani part of Balochistan suffer in particular under the ruthless implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a US$46-billion infrastructural mammoth project which will further consolidate economic and political ties between Beijing and Islamabad. Although CPEC comes with promises of development and jobs, the reality on the ground has proven to be agonizing for the local population, who have not been consulted nor received compensation for the exploitation of their ancestral lands.
In Iran, the Baloch people are deprived of their cultural, social and economic rights, degrading them to the status of third-class citizens. Sharing this fate with other non-Persian nationalities, the Baloch face discrimination in all walks of life, particularly with regards to political participation and access to the job market. The dissemination of Baloch culture and language was declared an act of treason against the state by the Iranian central governments, while assimilation policies and demographic manipulations mean that the Baloch are rapidly losing their identity.
Building on a series of events on human rights in Balochistan organized by UNPO in Europe, this conference will provide US researchers policy-makers and the interested public with a survey of the non-adherence to human rights norms in the Pakistani and Iranian parts of Balochistan, offering insights into the geopolitical and economic interests underlying this ongoing tragedy. The conference will provide a platform for and bring together the expertise of academics, civil society and representatives from Balochistan to discuss constructive approaches for the future of Balochistan.
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Speakers will include T. Kumar (Advocacy Director, Amnesty International USA), Christine Fair (Georgetown University) and Nasser Boladai (CNFI, BPP).
For any queries regarding the event please contact Marvin Kumetat ([email protected])