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Human rights campaigners are not terrorists

This is a guest post by Peter Tatchell

Protest against Baloch terror trial – Defend Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch, the Balochistan human rights campaigners who have been framed on terrorism charges by Pakistani intelligence.

Please circulate this appeal to all your friends. Urge them to attend on Monday

9am to 10am, Monday 1 December
Woolwich Crown Court, 2 Belmarsh Road, London SE28 0EY

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.

Monday’s protest is supported by Baloch and Sindhi rights campaigners from Pakistan and by members of CAMPACC, the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities.

Mr Marri and Mr Baluch are represented in court by Henry Blaxland QC and Dame Helena Kennedy QC.

This trial is another abuse of the anti-terror laws.

The Pakistan High Commissioner, speakinng on behalf of the new democratic government of Pakistan, has advised that his government wants reconciliation in Baluchistan and opposes the prosecution, effectively calling for the charges to be dropped.

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 UK government has been blackmailed into arresting these men and harassing other Baloch exiles and refugees. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services have threatened to end all cooperation with the UK government in the so-called “war on terror” unless critics of its war in Balochistan are silenced and jailed. That is why Marri and Baluch are on trial.

The UK authorties have decided these men are expendable for the sake of the ‘greater good’ of maintaining good relations with the Pakistani military 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 oppression and exploitation. That is why Pakistani military chiefs want them prosecuted. They are highly effective campaigners.

For nine years, the UK’s Labour government aided and abetted the illegal dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf, selling him military equipment 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.

The Asian Human Rights Commission reports that Pakistani army raids have resulted in 3,000 Baloch people dead, 200,000 displaced and 4,000 arrested. Thousands more have simply disappeared, according to AHRC.

Details of Pakistan’s human rights abuses in Balochistan are well documented by Pakistani and international human rights groups, including:

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Asian Human Rights Commission

International Crisis Group

Amnesty International

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Human Rights Watch

Watch this TV interview by Peter Tatchell with Mehran Baluch, the Baloch representative to the UN Human Rights Council:

Court address and directions:

Woolwich Crown Court
2 Belmarsh Road
London SE28 0EY

Map location:

Nearest train station: Plumstead, on the Southeastern line, from London Bridge, Cannon Street or Lewisham. The court is about 15 minutes walk from Plumstead station.