Archive for arrests

Kashmir: Activists Arrested

Posted in International Affairs, Law, Pakistan with tags , , , , on August 1, 2009 by Umer

Hundreds of activists illegally arrested at the demand of secular and democratic united Kashmir

In the Pakistani part of Kashmir several political activists and students have been arrested for observing the demands for an independent Kashmir, free from India and Pakistan. Mr. Sardar Liaquat Hayat, the Central President of the Jammu Kashmir National Awami Party, and several activists of the Jamu and Kashmir National Awami Party (JKNAP) and Jammu Kashmir National Students Federation (JKNSF), were arrested without any judicial warrants or charges. At the time of arrest on July 19, 2009, they were protesting against the call by the prime minister of Kashmir to annex Kashmir with Pakistan. Police conducted raids in Rawalakote city and arrested Liaquat Hayat, Wajid Ayyub and Shaihid Sharaf without arrest warrants from their homes. The same day the ruling party of Pakistani Kashmir organized a public rally to commend the so-called Kashmir´s accession to Pakistan at Rawalakote city.

July 19 is observed in Pakistan as the annexation of Kashmir to Pakistan since 1948, during the day governments of Pakistan and Kashmir (Pakistani) demanding the whole of Kashmir (including Indian territory) from the UN to be annexed to Pakistan as the unfinished agenda of creation of Pakistan.

On the same day in another incident, law enforcement personnel abducted and humiliated four Kashmiri students belonging to the JKNSF in Rawalpindi, Punjab province-Pakistan, for demanding the liberation of Kashmir from both Pakistan and India. It is alleged by the nationalist groups that leaders of the JKNAP and the JKNSF have been harassed, tortured and detained in the past as well for demanding basic human rights in the parts of Kashmir under Pakistani occupation. The JKNAP and JKNSF were opposing the annexation of Kashmir to Pakistan and demanding, the reunification of all the divided parts of Jammu Kashmir and its complete independence from India and Pakistan, based on secularism, democracy, equality, rule of law and social justice.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government of Pakistan, who runs the affairs of their part of Kashmir through the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs, to release the activists of JKNAP and JKNSF and provide the right of freedom of expression and freedom of association to their part of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir have a legitimate right to protest peacefully. Denying the people this right is a serious violation of their basic human rights and contravenes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR 1948) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR 1966) as Pakistan is a signatory to both the covenants as a member nation state.

Festival of the oppressed: February 9th, 2008

Posted in Communist Movement, Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2008 by Umer

February 9th, 2008, was an important day for the lawyers’ movement and for the people of Pakistan. It was that day when the lawyers showed their resilience in the face of State repression on the streets of Islamabad. It was that day when the lawyers showed to the rest of the world that their movement will not fade away. It will stand to accomplish its objectives. It will stand for the rights of the people, for restoration of judiciary, for free and fair elections. The Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party (CMKP) finds it to their honor to stand by the lawyers in their struggle for democracy and justice.

It started with the usual chill of the winter morning when a car rally organized by the Concerned Citizens of Pakistan left from the gates of Aitzaz Ahsan’s residence in Lahore. The organizers were kind enough to give space to some student-members of the CMKP for free. The long journey was made easy by discussions that ranged from anti-war movement in USA to political theories and the upcoming elections in Pakistan. We made short stays at the Bar Associations on our way as more lawyers and cars joined in. Ahmed Mukhtar, who is contesting elections from Pakistan People’s Party against Pakistan Muslim League-Q’s stalwart Shujat Hussain, hosted our lunch and briefed us about his preparations to tackle rigging of elections in his constituency. As we were getting late, we had to avoid more stops and rushed towards Islamabad.

Still we were not on time to attend the Pakistan Bar Council’s meeting at Islamabad. We drove to the Aitzaz Ahsan’s house where a group of lawyers was waiting for us, ready to march on to the residence of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry. As the demonstration started, members of CMKP from Rawalpindi/Islamabad arrived armed with large red flags marked with the hammer and sickle and a megaphone. Without wasting any moment, we ran towards the rally waving our flags, caught our breath, and started raising our slogans against the military rule.

The path to the Chief Justice’s house passes through an upward slope and a large contingent of Police was deployed there behind a barricade. As we approached the cordon, the first splash of water cannon was thrown our way. At first, there was a slight panic. The water cannon were being used for the first time and some people who were not expecting to face the strong pressure of water also fell on the road. The Government of Pakistan was trying to find proper use of fire brigade, which had failed miserably in dealing with a number of fires in the past, to defeat the political protests. However, it only dampened the protestors in the chilling cold – nothing more than that. Obviously, those who are willing to get their heads opened by stones in the course of struggle were not to be deterred by water. Soon there was a cry: “it’s only water”. Everyone moved forward facing the high pressure of water cannon. Some lawyers also started pelting stones to respond to State’s aggression. As I approached the barricade, all wet and damp, I found fellow CMKP members standing right on the barricade. Comrade A was standing with open arms challenging the water cannon while his back was being supported by Comrade F. The pressure of water was so high that even Comrade F slipped a few inches back to hold up Comrade A from falling back when faced with splashes.

The fire brigade failed miserably – again. They must have run out of water. The first shell of tear-gas was launched at the agitators. It was dreadful. I have been facing tear-gas since March last year and not that I can resist tear-gas (one of my friends who has been swimming since childhood can), I could see that this was not the ordinary one that we have been inhaling in Lahore. Old ladies, their commitment must be appreciated, who could not run fell down in the midst of the tear-gas attack and were helped out by young students. It was unbearable. As I ran back, my face and eyes were burning with stinging pain and there was a strong urge to vomit. With eyes half-closed and face coved by the wet flag, I ran back to the point where I could feel comfortable. It was quite a run.

Anyhow, I recovered in around five minutes and rushed to the front where an active fight was taking place between lawyers and Police. I immediately started looking for a stone and was lucky to have one delivered by the Police just few feet away from me. I happily returned it.

The lawyers were fighting with great energy and enthusiasm. They were chanting slogans against the Police and standing valiantly in the line of stone-fire. More tear-gas shells were fired, which were returned back by angry agitators who were wearing gloves to save their hands as they hold hot shells. Such daring was appreciated by loud cheers from the rest and boosted our spirits. Young girls were swearing at the dictator and throwing rocks at the Police. That was a place to be – all that I could have wished for. Now, I wish for more. But, I was joyful. Revolution is, after all, a festival of the oppressed.

In a middle of all this, a well-known senior lawyer positioned himself at higher spot, wanting to engage the crowd with his cold speech. That gentleman was keener to deliver a speech to the lawyers rather than leading them like other gallant senior lawyers, some of whom was arrested by the Police. People were not interested in words. They wanted action from their leaders. A young female lawyer asked the orator to step down (in no kind words) and to go where action is. That “leader” had to step down, but was nowhere to be seen at the front.

Another interesting bit was interaction with the management of Marriott Hotel that was on the street where the whole event was taking place. Some lawyers asked the Hotel management to provide them with water so that they can treat their burning eyes. The management plainly denied. The furious lawyers started throwing the tear-gas shells that could not be returned to the Police at Marriott. When the Police misfired a tear-gas shell into the Marriott, it was cheered by the protestors. Such was the anger against the apathetic management of the Hotel that found it better to serve their rich clients rather than those fighting for democracy in the streets. Such was the anger against the symbols of class oppression.

In the meanwhile, the protestors had divided in four groups: one in the middle, one on the right, and the third on the left. The fourth was at the back. The middle one was the bait for the Police. Attacks were launched from the left and the right. The group at the back only moved further back.

The Police, hitting their shields with their batons, moved further in offensive and the lawyers had the retreat. Some lawyers tried to make last attempts at attacking a police. A small group chanting Allah ho smashed themselves into the Policemen. All were arrested. It was interesting how the rich sufi tradition of the South Asia found itself in the movement for democracy and justice. The flank on the left was routed by Police into a street. One of my friends who were with that group evaded arrest by excusing that he was only there to pick up his sister from the protest. Many people from that faction were arrested by the Police.

Finally, the lawyers had to retreat into the Super Market with the chants of Allah ho. It was a good day. The lawyers engaged the Police for three hours in a fierce street battle and showed superb patience and valiance. The movement was shown to be alive and kicking.

Before I part with this report, there is a questions that erupted after the protest that I want to deal here. A good fellow questioned the utility of going these protests. His argument was that we should focus our energy in raising awareness elsewhere rather than attending public demonstrations. While I whole-heartedly agree with the idea that we must go to schools and colleges or, for that matter, everywhere we find a crowd to raise consciousness, we should not underestimate the potential of protests. People don’t learn merely through words. Had that been the case, the revolution would have occurred many years ago. People also learn from practical examples. We must show them and motivate them with our struggle in the street protests against the Military Dictatorship. As the Salvador Allende, the Marxist President of Chile, said in his last address to his people moments before he was murdered when fighting against military generals who instigated a coup against him: “I am sure my sacrifice will not be in vain; I am sure that it will at least be a moral lesson which will punish felony, cowardice and, treason.” When we attend the protest, we challenge apathy and cowardice. Not only we set an example for others, we educate ourselves with the lessons that can only be experienced from the streets and not the books.

Letter from Prison

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , on December 11, 2007 by Umer

Attached to this post is the letter sent by the detainees who were arrested by Police from outside the house of Justice Shahid Siddique for holding a vigil. Justice Shahid Siddique was amongst those brave judges who refused to take oath under the PCO/Martial Law. The government decided to forcefully evict him from his official residence in GOR-1, Lahore in order to humiliate him for taking a stand for what is right. Around eleven vigil holders, who gathered to brave any aggression by the State against the respected Judge, were arrested on the night between 6th and 7th of December and were moved to Jail.

According to the recent reports, the government has decided to take back the charges against the detainees and they will, hopefully, be released soon. This is all due to the mounting pressure that the students and lawyers have exerted on the Authorities to express solidarity with their comrades. The students organized a hunger-strike camp outside the Lahore Press Club for more than 72 hours without any break despite the increasing cold. The camp was frequented by various people from all walks of life who expressed their commitment for the cause, and appreciated the good work of students.

The youth of Pakistan, especially those who were arrested, must be lauded for their bravery in the face of extreme adversity of the State.


Karachi Arrests: Personal Account

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , on November 22, 2007 by Umer

On 20th November, around 180 journalists were arrested in Karachi while they were protesting outside the press club against the military dictatorship. They were released after a few hours of detention.

I am posting here a personal account of one of my friends who was amongst those arrested on 20th of November at Karachi. Her story is a testimony to the high spirits of the popular resistance movement against the military rule.

Long Live the Revolution!

Dear all,

First off, the funny part: All the journalists arrested (and later released) in Karachi yesterday have been charged with “rioting, creating [a] law and order situation, encounter, kidnapping and attempt to murder.” ATTEMPT TO MURDER!!! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Attempt to murder what? Musharraf’s hegemony? HELL yeah, baby! 😛
Okay, here’s what happened yesterday:

The rally

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) had called for a peaceful demonstration at 03:00 Tuesday (yesterday) outside the Karachi Press Club. The purpose was to demand the freedom of the Press, etc. Please note, all of us were totally unarmed, while the police surrounding the area were in complete riot gear with shields and motey dandey and bulletproof vests, helmets, knee pads, and whatnot. The entire area around the press club had been cordoned off.

The moment the rally got out of the Press Club, we were attacked (yes, “attacked”) by the policemen. There was a LOAD of brutal baton-charging, and one policeman hit ARY’s Aajiz Jamali so hard on his back with the shield, that the shield broke in two. :-S Women and men were hit indiscriminately and very VERY brutally — yes I can emphasize that enough. I’m skinny — I crawled around and got out unhurt. Everyone ran back towards the press club. Some of our office bearers and senior people had been picked up.

The demands and the negotiations

We all got out again and demanded that everyone be released. The policemen said they’d let everyone go if we went back inside the press club. We refused, and said we’d go in ONLY after our people were released. Negotiations followed, and it turned out that our people could not be released. We said fine, if you can arrest 10, you can arrest all the rest of us too. 😛 We gave in “ba-jamaa’at” giriftaariaN. The policemen tried to stop the women but we said we were standing by our male colleagues. They said there were no female police officials and we could therefore not be arrested. We reminded them that the people who had baton charged us were not female police officials, and if the male police waalahs could hit us, they could pretty darn well arrest us too. Khair, female police waaliaN were brought in, but we insisted that we will go in the same vans as our male colleagues.

In the van

Now this is the fun part! 😀 There were 27 of us in this van — seven women and 20 men. And boy did we raise hell!!! The van took us on a tour of the entire city, and we kept naarafying all the way. Passersby stopped to gape at us and then joined in the naareybaazi. In short, we conducted a State-sponsored anti-Musharraf rally. AHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!! Yes, I can’t get over this — this IS funny!!! 😀 They took us to the Boat Basin police station, only to realise that it was full. Ditto for Gizri and Darakhshan. They were then told to take us to the Docks police station, but the driver did not know the way (YUP!!! :-D). He took us to the Jackson police station instead, where his bum was kicked, and the correct raasta explained to him by officials concerned. LOL! All this while, we weren’t making life easier for him by continuously naarafying, jeering and heckling. Yes we’re mean. 😛

At the Docks Police Station

We were “offloaded” and the women were told to go separately. We refused and decided to stick with our male colleagues. “We’re here as journalists, not men or women,” we told the police waalahs there. Since the Docks Police Station does not have a female lockup, they had to put all 26 of us in the interrogation room where we continued to party. 😛

At around 05:30 p.m. they came to the women and said that we were free to go. We asked if EVERYONE was free to go and we were told, “No, only the ‘laddiss’.” We told them to sod off — either EVERYONE leaves, or no one does.

They tried to confiscate our cellphones, and we refused en masse. So while cellphones at the rest of the police stations were taken away, us “Docks waalahs” still had ours on us. 😀

We also took over the SHO’s rest room, because the “prisoners’ restrooms” were filthy and the doors wouldn’t lock. We made them bring water for us, etc etc, didn’t tell them our home addresses for the FIR, bugged them every way we could. 😛 Faiz saheb’s kalaam was sung, nareybaazi huee. Some PPP waalahs brought us food, tea, diet coke and jaali ciggies, for which we’re thankful to them. 😛

A lot of people visited us, and we are sincerely grateful for their support. Special thanks to Ayesha Siddiqi from the People’s Resistance for staying with us for a whole bunch of hours together. A majority of the CMKP Karachi DC camped out outside the gates of the police station, as did Nasir Mansoor and Sherbaz Khan from the LPP, and Dr Riaz and all. The HRCP visited us too, as did members of Peoples Resistance, including Dr Awab Alvi and Sophia (I’m sorry I’m missing out names here). From what I heard from the other police stations (people were spread out — some, including two women, were at the Clifton police station, some at the Artillery Maidan police station, Frere police station, Darakhshan too, I think), journos there were having as much fun as we were having at the Docks Police Station.

Ten people who had been taken to the Shershah police station were brought over to Docks, bringing the total at our camp to 36 — the more, the merrier! 😛

The Release

At around 09:30 p.m. they said all of us were free to go. We came to know, however, that four of our senior office bearers could not be traced. It was mutually decided that no one would leave any police station, until those four people were released with us. The police waalahs threatened to physically throw everyone out, and they were told to “try.” 😛 The missing people were then “miraculously” traced out within 15 minutes, and everyone rejoiced. We left the Docks police station the way we’d entered it — naarafying and partying. 😀

All of us “criminals” from all the police stations then congregated outside the Clifton police station, where we raised hell again. We then proceeded to the Karachi Press Club, where we partied again — yes, that’s what us Karachi’ites do best — and we do things with a bang! : )

Lesson learnt yesterday: Unity = Victory.

Comrade Ziyad asked me yesterday about why we were not mistreated at the police station. The answer, comrade, is: they dared not mistreat us because we stood united.

Also, from what we were told by the new information minister, Nesar Memon, the decision to arrest journos was taken independently by the Sindh government — no such orders had come forth from the provincial level. Now I’m wondering how or why a caretaker government would take such a major step.

Moreover, there are people who’re going around saying that the police resorted to violence only after journos hurled stones at them. This is WRONG. Stones were hurled, yes, but only AFTER the police started beating us up like cattle. A friend of mine rolled up her placard and started hitting a police waalah on the head with it — after his lathi hit her really hard. Serves them right, I’d say. But let the records show that the stone-throwing was a REACTION. Anyone would do it if you saw your friends being beaten up this way for no reason — and we’re all friends here. No matter how cut-throat the competition between publications and channels, no matter how hard we try to outdo each other professionally, but when push comes to shove, we journos are all friends and we stand united!!!

Oh and naaras that journos came up with yesterday:

Mukk gya tera show Musharraf — Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!

Kalla baetha ro Musharraf — Go Musharraf, Go Musharraf!!! 😀

Inquilaab Zindabad!

In Solidarity,

~ UZi

Also present at the CMKP Discussion Forum


Posted in Pakistan, Poetry, Literature, Art with tags , , on November 10, 2007 by Umer

A very beautiful poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz relevant to the recent arrest-spree carried out by the Pakistani State. I dedicate it to all those who have been sent behind bars:

Shackles on your feet

Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Poorvi Vora
Wet eyes and a crazed will are not enough;
Nor are accusations of a furtive love;
Stride in the bazaar today, shackles on your feet.
Stride with arms spread open and in wild abandon;
Stride with dust-covered hair and blood-stained shirt;
Stride, all the beloved city watches the road.
The official and the commoner;
Sad mornings and barren days;
Arrows of slander and stones of insult.
Who but we can be their companion?
Who in the beloved town remains free of guilt?
Who remains worthy of the killer’s hand?
Broken-hearted ones, prepare to leave;
Let us stride to meet our death today.

Silence before the Storm

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2007 by Umer

The third day of Emergency, or what should be honestly termed as Martial Law, remained passive at Lahore. The reason for such silence was clear: almost all the active lawyers were arrested yesterday, on 5th of November, in a massive crack-down at the Lahore High Court. They are still detained along with their leadership, and the most active amongst them, more than 300, are expected to face charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Others will not be able to find an easy way out. According to the laws amended in the course of Emergency, any person can be detained by the Police authorities for three months without any trial or presentation before the magistrate under the amended Maintenance of Public Order Act, one of the most notorious laws of our colonial past.

I received a call early in the morning from a lawyer warning me to stay away from the High Court building and the Mall Road for today. I complied, as I also wanted to hold some discussions with some contacts. One of my friends, who unsuccessfully tried to enter the High Court building from all four gates early in the morning, informed that the Police was arresting every lawyer that showed up at the Court entrances. They were arrested even before they entered the building. According to some sources, few lawyers approached the courts in order to seek bails for those detained on Monday. They were also arrested.

While the streets of Lahore remained calm, there was also some good news. All the people who were arrested by the Police on Sunday from the HRCP building – including Dr. Ali Cheema and Mr. Bilal Minto, both members of LUMS faculty – were finally released on bail late in the evening after two and half days of detention. However, the criminal charges brought against them have not been dropped.

The students of LUMS, who received a lot of media attention due to their activism on Monday, celebrated the release of their heroes with enthusiasm. They remained in high spirits through out the day and resolved to continue their struggle for democracy and social justice.

From where I see, everyone who is enraged by General Musharraf’s actions will have to take a step back, recompose, and rehash their strategy for the future. People are realizing that they are up for a long fight against a force that will not think twice before using brute force. Any agitation that takes place in a disorganized fashion can be easily crushed.

During the Lahore High Court protests, the lawyers were not expecting the whole building to be swarmed by Policemen. The lawyers were asking us, the students, to stay at the rear of the demonstration to ensure our safety. They later had to realize that no place was safe from Police brutality. The Police action took place with such rapidity (it took less than 30 minutes to arrest all the agitators) because there was no plan of action for retreat. People ran in random directions to protect themselves from the Police. Even the leadership, that should have been guarded, could not evade arrests.

In my view, therefore, the democratic forces will have to reconstruct their plan of action so that massive arrests do not dent the progress of our revolutionary struggle for democracy. Other sections of the society – particularly workers, peasants, and students – will have to be included in the movement for a meaningful result. So far, there has been no noticeable contribution made by the non-lawyers. That will have to change. To change that all those who are outside the lock-ups should exhaust their energies in motivating the ‘common man’ to join the democratic movement. These moments of silence and reflection are the most favorable to encourage more people to join the struggle.

The movement is on. To ensure that it does not fade away, arm yourselves for the second wave.

Today, at the Lahore High Court

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , on November 5, 2007 by Umer

Today, I was witness to the worst of the State brutality. With every passing day, it is getting clearer what the present regime is about – naked tyranny. It is not that I have not seen any State repression before. I was there in the High Court on 17th of March when the building was surrounded by the Police, and the lawyers were disallowed from leaving the premises of the Court. We were practically detained in the High Court. At that day, the news was about the Police firing tear gas shells from the outside and entering few feet from the gate into the High Court premises. Everywhere people were talking about how the Police had violated the sanctity of the Courts. The popular reaction was understandable – the event was unprecedented. But, if I compare what happened today with what I saw eight months back, I can say without a moment’s pause that 17th March was nothing compared to what took place today on 5th of November.

While driving to the Lahore High Court with a fellow member of the Communist Workers and Peasants Party (CMKP) and few students from the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), the lack of Policemen stationed on the Mall Road was conspicuous. During every visit to the Lawyers’ protests, during the movement for the re-instatement of Chief Justice of Pakistan, there used to be a massive number of Policemen deployed on both sides of the Mall Road.

‘What are they thinking to do’, we were all discussing that while we walking towards the High Court building after parking our car at a safe distance. My estimate was that something on the lines of 17th March event will take place. I was very wrong. That I knew as soon as we entered the Court building after going through a cursory security-check. There were a huge number of Policemen deployed inside the High Court. It was blatant that today the pitched battles between lawyers and Policemen will take place inside the Court building. Still, we were not able to grasp what their plans were, which we soon found out.

In the courtyard of the High Court, surrounded by Karachi Hall, a Bar room, a Dispensary, and a Canteen, the lawyers had gathered and were chanting slogans against the Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), the Emergency, the Martial Law, and the judges who had taken oath under the PCO. There was no noticeable presence from any political party. I found a group of faculty members and fellow university students with whom I had made the plan to attend the rally last night. We were around 30 to 35 and almost everyone had an idea about the risk involved in being present in the High Court. We knew that some of us will certainly be arrested, and everyone will have to smell the tear gar, taste salt, and cry. Nevertheless, we also knew how important it is to be present in the struggle for democracy and social justice.

The Lawyers’ convention started at around 10.30 a.m. at the Karachi Hall. We all gathered there with Lawyers to listen to the speeches made by the officials of the Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA). The mood was full of enthusiasm, despite the gravity of the situation. Every now and then, the Lawyers raised slogans against General Musharraf and Emergency. The speakers made passionate speeches in favor of democratic action and struggle against the military dictatorship.

After listening to few speeches, I returned to the courtyard where I found two other members of the CMKP, both of them were not students. I also met few other acquaintances amongst the lawyers. Many came up to us to appreciate our presence at the Lahore High Court, and advised us to avoid arrests. ‘Go and spread the word, there are enough to get arrested’, one said.

The members of the Lahore Bar Association had arrived, and everyone was awaiting the call of the LHCBA. It soon came. We will march towards the gate of the Lahore High Court that opened on Mall Road near the General Post Office. As we walked towards the gate everyone was getting their handkerchiefs wet, as covering your face with a wet cloth is an effective way to repel the effects of the tear gas. I also got a piece of cloth from a fellow student, damped it, and joined the protest. I was somewhere in the middle demonstration, trying my best to get to a spot where I can see what is happening at the gate.

Some lawyers were trying to open the gate that was closed by the Police. As the pressure built around the gate, the first tear-gas shell was fired. Everyone covered their face and retreated. Lawyers are not so easily intimidated. They halted, and so did we. More shells were fired and we had to retreat to the parking lot near the Bar room, where some Policemen were stationed to ensure that the lawyers don’t get to the judges’ offices.

The lawyers, enraged and furious, pelted stones at the windows close to the Policemen. Some even got in front of the Policemen and pushed them. When a Policeman raised his baton, they retreated only to throw stones at them from a safe distance. That forced the Police to take few steps back, but they returned – in a larger number.

This time they were furious. They were accompanied with some plain clothes men, who I noticed were much more active in throwing stones at the protestors. We all started moving towards the Bar room when, I saw two tear gar shells thrown towards the protestors. Knowing that we are not in a very open space with walls on both sides and dense leafy branches of an old tree above us, the shells were expected to hurt badly. The shells did hurt severely, even though one of them was hurled back at the Police by a courageous lawyer. Almost everyone around me had his face covered with the wet cloth, and were moving into the Bar room, the other door of which opened to the courtyard. I also got my face covered as the pain was unbearable and followed the rest into the Bar room.

In the Bar room, there were easily more than 150 people clustered, all victimized by the tear gas. They were treated their throats affected by the tear gas with the help of salt. We, students, immediately started counting ourselves. Two of CMKP members were not there, along with two students from LUMS.

Before we could call our friends up and get their know-how, the Policemen approached the door of the Bar room from which we had entered from the parking. As the Policemen got to the glass door, a staff-member of the Bar locked it. Without any pause, the Policemen hurled their big boots at the door. The glass door, weak and old, could not take it long. Everyone in the room was rushing through the one and half meter wide door that opened to the courtyard. I was almost at the end of the crowd, trying to make my way through. As I was leaving the Bar room, I looked back to witness a spectacle of valiance. The Policemen had almost smashed the door, but three lawyers were still standing, throwing chairs at the door to block way of the Police. Had those lawyers not been there, several who were the last ones to leave the Bar rooms, like me, would have received a sound beating.

Entering the courtyard, I saw one person standing in the front of a corridor calling up the people. Everyone followed the call, only to realize that there is Police on the other end of the corridor. Stuck in the middle, we halted. While we were thinking about our possible courses of actions, getting arrested being a major one, a very senior lawyer, who was the patron of LUMS Law programme approached and led us into the Dispensary.

The Dispensary had a glass front towards the courtyard, with two or three rooms for patients. Many of us recomposed ourselves, got information about our friends who were safe till then, and informed our contacts outside about the situation in the High Court. While we were doing that, we witness how the Police stormed into the courtyard and started with arrests. They went to every room one by one and arrested everyone, beating them up while taking them to the Police vans. Uncertain about our own fates, but all mentally ready to get arrested peacefully if the push comes to shove, we saw how the Police was rounding everybody up. We did not know if friends who were not with us at the Dispensary were safe anymore. It had only been thirty minutes since the call was given by the LHCBA to march towards the Mall Road gate.

One by one, all rooms were emptied. Only Dispensary was left. As the Police approached the door of the Dispensary, all of us huddled in the two rooms that were usually used for the patients. ‘I will try my best to save you students from arrest,’ assured the senior lawyer who had led us to the Dispensary. He went to the Dispensary door to negotiate on our behalf, and was arrested. Then the Police asked the people in the other room to give arrests without any protests, they did. And then we also peacefully gave our arrests with our hand up, as the Police had ordered.

While walking out of the Dispensary, one of our faculty members started shouting ‘we are students’ to garner attention of the media present there to stay safe from any off-handed behavior from the Policemen. The Police, seeing the media around, asked us to put our hands down. We were led to the gate towards the Mall road, the same one towards which we were asked to march earlier in the day.

At the gate, we were asked to gather on one side. I tried my best to get some information about the two non-students members of the CMKP, as they were no where to be seen. My estimate was they must have been arrested. We were asked or ordered, to put it more correctly, by the Police to stay at the side of gate, and were assured that we will not be arrested. A number of media reporters come up to us to know what we were doing at the High Court. The lawyers were lined up at the gate and were being packed into Police vans to be sent to distant police stations. The information about the two non-student CMKP members also came. They were safe and had escaped arrests by jumping over the boundary wall of the Court. That was a relief. Soon afterwards, we were all allowed to leave and that marked the end of our eventful stay at the High Court.

There are some important lessons that I learnt today after seeing what I have written above. To expect mercy or justice from the present military regime is simply ridiculous. This is State built on the blood of millions of toiling masses. It rests on tyranny and brute force. It is alien to the worries of the countless people, who work days and nights only to be exploited by the powerful few. It only serves its own interests, and that is to maintain and reinforce the present system of exploitation and repression at the behest of their Imperialist masters. Not even its own professed rules can come in its way. They have no regard for justice and no respect for the people. Such a regime deserves only one response – strong condemnation.

Some readers might find the massive crack-down at the Lahore High Court to be demoralizing. However, taken in the right perspective, it is not. After a long dark night of passivity during the rule of injustice, there is ray of hope. Some have decided to take a stand against military dictatorship despite all odds. More will follow. Don’t be impatient. Don’t loose hope. There will soon be an era when the people will do away with all forms of exploitation and despotism, when justice and truth will be respected, when the people will rule, and when the democracy will be our constitution.

Till then, struggle, struggle, and struggle.

Power to the people!

Arrests all around

Posted in Pakistan with tags , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2007 by Umer

With the passage of time the effects of the Emergency imposed by General Musharraf on Saturday are becoming glaringly visible, though they were not surprising for anyone with even minute political knowledge. The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, was kidnapped from his office along with many other members of the apex court on the evening when the Emergency was declared. They were all placed under house arrests. Aitzaz Ahsan, Munir A. Malik, and Ali Ahmed Kurd – the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement – were also arrested on the same evening on one-month detention order. Aitzaz has has been detained in the Adiala Jail. Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) President Ahsan Bhoon was also detained. Imran Khan, leader of Tahrik-e-Insaaf was placed under house arrest on the Saturday evening. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Chairwoman Asma Jehangir was also placed under house arrest.

Today (Sunday), several journalists, lawyers, academics, and human rights activists gathered in Lahore at the office of Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) office to peacefully protest against the declaration of Emergency. They were surrounded by the Police and later on many of them were arrested. Amongst the arrested are: I.A Rehman, Iqbal Hyder, Robina Saigol, Azra Shad, Khalid Mehmood, Mehboob Khan, Raja Salman, Salima Hashmi, and Dr. Mubashir Hasan (later released because of his old age). Mr. Bilal Hassan Minto and Professor Ali Cheema from the faculty of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) are also amongst the arrested. According to the latest information, detention orders are expected to be issued soon for all those arrested, which means that they may be put in jail indefinitely.

In Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Police has detained scores of prominent political figures, lawyers, and human rights activists.

The news of this massive crack-down on the opposition figures has remained missing as all Private TV channels remained off the air for the second day. Premises of private ‘Aaj TV’ channel were raided by officials who tried to seize live broadcast equipment, but had to make a hasty retreat after vociferous protests by the staff.

Senior journalist and secretary general of South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), Imtiaz Alam, was detained and later let-off.

Around 500 people, including 80 lawyers, have been arrested so far on the first day of the Emergency. More arrests can be expected to take place on Monday as the legal fraternities meet up and demonstrate.