Freedom of Expression,  International

Pakistan Government tries to censor Guardian/Tatchell

Yesterday, Peter Tatchell wrote on Comment Is Free about the plight of Balochistan containing the following chilling and depressing revalations:

Four Baloch prisoners have been burned alive in hot coal tar by the Pakistan army during military operations in annexed and occupied Balochistan, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

Last week the AHRC received confirmation that Pakistani soldiers arrested four people on 5 April 2008, in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan, and subjected them to torture. They were asked to identify local supporters of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). After failing to get any names from them, the victims were immersed in scolding hot coal tar. Three of the men were literally boiled and burned to death. A fourth died later from his injuries.

Villagers in the area also claim the Pakistan army used a form of chemical gas against them and that some of the gassed survivors were later shot. Their bodies have not been handed over to relatives for burial.

His article rehearsed information from an earlier post he’d written for The Guardian’s ‘Comment Is Free’ blog he’d written outlining the history of how an independent Balochistan came to be invaded and annexed by Pakistan. This, not the information about the torture and murder of Balochis, has provoked an agressive diplomatic response from the Pakistani government. Tatchell explains:

My article on Comment is Free has infuriated the Pakistan government. Through the High Commissioner in London, they have demanded that The Guardian remove it from the website or publish an apology and correction. Their pressure on The Guardian has been very aggressive and demanding. But The Guardian is standing firm and refusing to bow to their bullying.

The Pakistani government did not object to my report about its army burning alive four prisoners. What it wanted censored was my statements about Pakistan invading, annexing and occupying Balochistan. They claim the people of Balochistan voted to be part of Pakistan. Not true. In fact, Pakistan has refused a referendum on independence. It is denying the people of Balochistan a free vote – because it knows they are likely to vote for independence.

You can read about the real history of Pakistani annexation here:

Please spread this story as far as you can. It will really embarrass the Pakistani leaders.