WSC PARTIDCIPATES IN THE NINTH SESSION OF UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, GENEVA
Ms Suraiya Makhdoom, Senior Vice-Chair, World Sindhi Congress participated in the 9th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council held in Geneva .
During her visit, Ms Makhdoom spoke about the current situation in Sindh, attended the Human Rights Council, some of the NGOs briefings and met various delegates from all over the world.
Speaking in a briefing on South Asia , Ms Makhdoom highlighted the main current problems of Sindh, such as, Centralising of Sindh resources without the consent of the people of Sindh Examples: Coal resources of Sindh are being taken away by the central govt.
The Federal government has taken control of the coal resources of Sindh by creating a new body through a notification only. Thar Coal Authority, established by the Federal government, is to be managed by the Federal government and not the Sindh government, which was doing so under the provincial law and authority.
The Peoples Party government in Sindh resisted the above take over first, but finally gave in. The people of Sindh and the civil society have been protesting against it.
Ms Makhdoom said the federal government has been interfering with the development of coal resources of Sindh. In 2004 a Chinese company invested $1.5 billion in Thar by installing machinery but the federal government forcibly shut down the project.
The above move of the Central government is unconstitutional as the constitution guarantees provincial autonomy in this matter. The present government has shown to be no different than their predecessors in usurping the resources of Sindh.
Motorways and High ways of Sindh: the Central govt has taken away many Motorways or highways of Sindh. So now the people pay toll tax on their roads to the Central government instead of the Sindh government. This again shows the federal government has no respect for the constitution of the country. It does not pay any heed to the sentiments of the people of Sindh and has no interest in their welfare and self esteem.
Sindh language: the website of Sindh Assembly is in English and Urdu, but not in Sindhi. So the people of Sindh can’t access their Assembly site in their language.
Elaborating the point Ms Makhdoom said that Sindhi language has been the target right from the inception of the country. The present elected government too is continuing with the same policies and have shown no signs of redressing the damage done to Sindhi language by the previous regimes so much so that they have even failed to provide a website of the Sindh Assembly in Sindhi.
Sindhi was the official language of Sindh even under the British rule. But after the partition Sindhi medium schools were closed down and so forth. Hence Sindh lost its language as well as many other things by joining country . When for the first time there was an elected govt in Sindh in the 1970s, Sindh Assembly passed the Sindhi Language Bill declaring Sindhi to be the official language of Sindh. Previously there used to be some sign posts in Sindhi, but during the last government, all the sign posts in Sindh, especially in the cities have been written in non-Sindhi and even the website of Sindh Assembly is not in Sindhi. PTV had only one hour programme in Sindhi, but Musharraf govt closed down that as well. Sindhi artists protested, but nothing happened.
The audience took a sympathetic view and even the Chair agreed that there were problems with the Sindhi language
Apart form the briefings, Ms Makhdoom attended the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Council’s meeting with the NGOS. That was very useful. It was good to see and hear the OHCHR in person. This meeting focused on hearing NGO’s concerns, suggestions, etc. for the conduct OF HR Commission business and other issues. The new UNHCHR, Ms Navanethem Pillay Comes from South Africa . She was a front-line, grassroots lawyer who acted as a defence attorney for many anti-apartheid campaigners and trades unionists. Her many illustrious assignments include serving as a judge on two of the most important international criminal courts of the modern times, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and International Criminal Court in the Hague. During her visit to the UN, Ms Makhdoom also attended the meeting of the UNHR Council, where on 18th September she had the honour of listening to the Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who presented the Report of the special fact finding mission on the HR violations of Israel in Beit Hanoun.
On 19th September the Council debated agenda Item 8 entitled “Follow-up and implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.” In this debate, Two NGOs, Association for World Education and International Humanist and Ethical Union referred to the honour killings and other crimes against women in Pakistan. Humanist and Ethical Union mentioned recent cases in Punjab and Balouchistan and quoted a Baloch Senator as saying, “these are centuries old traditions and I will continue to defend them.
Sep 28, 2008