Human rights campaigners are not terrorists

Protests at Baloch terror trial

Drop all charges against Marri and Baluch

Stop abusing the anti-terror laws

Human rights campaigners are not terrorists

London – 1 December 2008

On Monday 1 December, the Baloch ‘terrorism’ trial resumed in London. Friends and supporters of the defendants, Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch, staged a protest outside the court, calling for the trial to be halted and the charges dropped.

Photos of the protests are available to view and download for publication here.

Although the police and court officials were needlessly bullying, forcing the protesters to leave the court grounds, the supporters of the defendants made their point and were seen by court staff and by everyone who came to the court and who passed by it.

The Balochistan human rights campaigners Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch are being prosecuted on terrorism charges, which are widely believed to have been concocted by Pakistani intelligence.

Monday’s protest was supported by Baloch and Sindhi rights campaigners from Pakistan and by members of CAMPACC, the UK Campaign Against Criminalising Communities, which opposes abuses of the anti-terror laws.

Mr Marri and Mr Baluch are represented in court by two of the UK’s leading human rights barristers, Henry Blaxland QC and Dame Helena Kennedy QC.

Mr Marri is a former MP and government minister in the regional assembly of Balochistan – a previously independent state, which was invaded and annexed by Pakistan in 1948, and which has ever since been under illegal Pakistani military occupation. Mr Baluch is his campaign assistant.

“The Pakistan High Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the new democratic government of Pakistan, says his government wants reconciliation in Baluchistan and opposes the prosecution, effectively calling for the charges to be dropped,” says human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who helped coordinate Monday’s protest.

“Previously, the acting Interior Minister of Pakistan, Rehman Malik, announced that terror charges against Mr Marri in Pakistan have been cancelled; stating that the case against him had been politically motivated by the Musharraf dictatorship. This discredits the whole basis on which Marri and Baluch have been charged in London.

“The trial is another abuse of the anti-terror laws, whereby legitimate human rights campaigners end up on trial. “It appears that the UK government has been blackmailed into arresting these men and harassing other Baloch exiles and refugees. It is reported that Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have threatened to end all cooperation with the UK government in the “war
on terror” unless critics of its war in Balochistan are silenced and jailed. That is probably why Marri and Baluch are on trial.

“The UK authorities seem to have decided these men are expendable for the sake of the ‘greater good’ of tackling terrorism by maintaining close relations with the Pakistani military and intelligence services.

“Marri and Baluch have campaigned for self-determination for Balochistan and helped expose Pakistan’s annexation and oppression of the Baloch nation. They are defending their people against military oppression and economic exploitation. Pakistani military chiefs want them prosecuted because they have been such effective campaigners, exposing to the world Islamabad’s tyranny in Balochistan.

“For nine years, the UK’s Labour government aided and abetted the illegal dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf, selling him military equipment that was used to prosecute Pakistan’s illegal war in Balochistan – a war that has involved the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity and which has been strongly condemned by international human rights groups,” said Mr Tatchell.

In an interview, Khair Baksh Marri, veteran Baloch national leader, said that Hybyair “is serving his people by organizing their struggle beyond their frontiers”. Further, Khair Baksh Marri stated:

I need to know if they have been arrested because they are terrorists or is it the other way around. I mean, it is also possible that they are being labelled as terrorists to justify their arrest. I have apprehensions that it is the need of the British government to call them terrorists.


One Response to “Human rights campaigners are not terrorists”

  1. Ahmar Mustikhan Says:

    I am disgusted at this trial.

    There were widespread reports the charges were framed out of trade-off with the terrorist state of Pakistan under the then General Pervez Musharraf to have Rashid Rauf arrested. Rauf has vanished into thin air and the Pakistani spooks tried to mislead the world he was killed in a US attack in November; his family denied he is dead.

    It is high time Britan respect human rights defenders of the Baluch people.

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