Sep 26, 2007

Sindh: Situation Brought to Attention at HRC

A senior figure of UNPO Members Sindh, has spoken at the Human Rights Council to direct attention to the conditions under which the Sindhi live in Pakistan.

A senior figure of UNPO Members, the Sindhi, has spoken at the Human Rights Council to direct attention to the conditions under which the Sindhi live in Pakistan.

Below are extracts of the speech by Munawar Laghari of the World Sindhi Institute:

6th session of the Human Rights Council: 10 to 28 September 2007
ITEM 4:Human Rights Situations that Require the Council Attention ( 24TH September 2007)

Acting for a better tomorrow

Munawar Laghari (Executive Director, The World Sindhi Institute)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a great opportunity to be present before you all in this fine gathering, based on a noble cause: Human Rights.


I am here to bring to your attention and exhort this commission, to alleviate the suffering of the people of Sindh and Balochistan. My people have been suffering under the grips of military rule and a lack of rights since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.

Sindh and Balochistan, the two southern provinces of Pakistan, hold a unique position in the region between South-Asia and Middle East. Although both are provinces of a country, but their position and resources are invaluably important for the rest of the world, particularly in the present geo-political situation, when they both assume locations of International importance.


Both these extremely resource-rich, minimally populated and with large swats of pristine areas are strategically important locations, yet most under-developed, poor and most neglected provinces of Pakistan, whose tremendous natural & industrial resources are being exploited for the benefit, not of its people, but a large brutal military of Pakistan and to benefit corporate interest of Punjab.

Sindhis and Baloch are largely disenfranchised. The sheer size of population does not generate a great deal of global interest. The Government of Pakistan […] is sadly supported by a large number of western democracies. Consequently, the concerns pf [of] people in Sindh and Balochistan are brushed aside. Pakistani military & [and] its proxy Islamic fundamentalist groups have been unleashing with the impunity terror upon Sindhis and Baloch.

The Government of Pakistan has actively discouraged and has often ruthlessly suppressed & [and] persecuted any dissemination of information concerning issues of human rights, democracy, economic exploitation, control of resources and environmental in Sindh and Balochistan. Fearing persecution, active and vibrant civil society engagement has unfortunately not materialized and not many non-profit organizations have actively engaged in working for the concerns of Sindh and Balochistan, thus making it incumbent upon The World Sindhi Institute (W.S.I.) to focus its entire energy to struggle for challenges faced by the people in the two southern provinces of Sindh and Balochistan, now attaining international importance.

Through nonviolent means, The W.S.I. works relentlessly for universal human rights and humanitarian law for the people of Sindh and Balochistan and carries out advocacy on the following main themes:

Enforced disappearances

Enforced disappearances have become a hushed part of a dictatorship for many decades in many countries. The people kidnapped are so harshly destroyed that there is no physical evidence that they even existed. Unfortunately, the kidnappers are also so very proficient in pressuring the families of the disappearances, that few know the true extent of this practice. Finally, in 2002, the International Criminal Court deemed “forced disappearances” as a crime against humanity.

About a year before this statute, in 2001, General Pervez Musharraf took over politically to become President of Pakistan. Since then, disappearances in Pakistan have escalated. It is very hard to calculate them due to the secrecy involved in the actions of detention, torture, execution, etc, as well as families not reporting disappearances because of the fear of revenge.

Focusing on Balochistan, a Pakistani newspaper reported that at least 3,000 persons are being illegally detained in camps run by the Army and Intelligence Agencies. Notice that these are people being detained, so that the number of 3,000 does not pertain to those captured and executed. These prisoners are mostly male Baloch nationalists, Sindhi activists, professors, labor leaders, journalists and political workers. Amnesty International reported that many others were arrested for allegedly being a part of banned political organizations.


It is impossible to confirm the number of arrests! It is largely because unlawful arrests including kidnapping, detention, torture, and even execution are carried out in secrecy. Moreover, there is a probability that the families of some of the disappeared are reluctant to publicize their cases because of fear of revenge.


According to data collected by the HRCP, of the 600 people that have 'disappeared' over the past five years most are "Baloch nationalists, Sindhi dissidents and even sectarian leaders", from the southern provinces.


Pakistani politicians, media and civil society need to take a stand and hold the government to account so the practice is ended and the fate and whereabouts of all victims clarified. The government of Pakistan must take immediate steps to end the practice of illegal arrest and detention of persons as part of the “war on terror” and also end the use of torture and other mistreatment. The use of secret detention facilities must cease immediately. The war on terror cannot be won by resorting to illegal detentions and torture. It is time for the US to decide whether it will continue to be complicit in criminal activity in its fight against terrorism, or whether the rule of law will prevail.


Torture Abolition

The World Sindhi Institute works directly with survivors of torture to raise awareness of the global issue and work towards abolishing it.  I am myself a survivor of torture in Pakistan, as is one of WSI's Board Members and many other supporters of WSI.  The issue is a pervasive one, and the atrocity continues in Sindh today, with few legal frameworks to prohibit it.  To date, the Pakistani Government is known to carry out torture as a means of intimidation and control, particularly of minority ethnic groups, including the Sindhis.


We continue educational efforts and supports grassroots-level research and prevention work in Sindh.

We urge the Human Rights Council to take notice of all the above-mentioned violations currently happening in Pakistan and take action in conjunction with the Government of Pakistan and the people of Sindh and Balochistan.

Thank you. 

(Source: The World Sindhi Institute)