PRESS RELEASE: 25 September 2009
WSC ORGANISES A BRIEFING AT THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL IN GENEVA
World Sindhi Congress, a leading Sindhi organisation working for the cause of human rights Of Sindh and Sindhis, organised a briefing during the 12th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 18th September 2009. The title of the briefing was “Self Determination of Sindh and Balochistan – A Strategy for Regional Peace”.
The briefing was facilitated by Interfaith International, which has a special consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council). The briefing was very successful in attracting wider audience representing nations from Europe, Asia, Africa and America . The representatives of many renowned NGOs, European Union and UN Human Rights Council were also present.
The panel who dealt with various aspects of the issue included Charles Graves, Haleem Bhatti, Ghansham Das, Hidayat Bhutto, Noordin Mengal, Suraiya Makhdoom, Abdul Hamid Khan and Lakhu Luhana.
Dr Charles Graves, Secretary General Interfaith International, presided over the briefing and introduced the context of the briefing. He said that Sindhis are an ancient nation who has been subjected to enormous suffering under various regimes in Pakistan and face many problems. He said in Balochistan gross violations of human rights have continued to occur particularly due to ongoing military operation.
Dr Haleem Bhatti, Chairman WSC, reflected upon the right of nations to self-determination, its development as basic human right within the UN Charter and its applicability to Sindh and Balochistan. He reiterated that Sindhis are denied the right to govern themselves. This has resulted in poverty, lawlessness and one of the lowest indicators of social development. Contravening the right of a people to control their natural wealth and resources, people have been deprived of their water rights, their port, oil and natural gas, and mineral wealth. He requested the international community that under such circumstances, it is all the more imperative that the world speaks out for right of the Sindhi people to self-determination as enshrined in international covenants.
Dr Ghansham Das, Director Indus Valley Research Institute, deliberated on the continuity of historical philosophy of Sindhi people of peaceful coexistence. He referred to Mohan-jo-Daro as an example and said that Pakistan government wants to hide the glorious history of Sindhi people from the world and is trying to promote religious fundamentalism. He demanded from the international community to support the secular people of Sindh and Balochistan in order to succeed in their fight against Al Qaeda and Taliban.
Mr. Noordin Mengal, of Balochistan National Party, said that the joint struggle of Baloch and Sindhi people is the way forward for the betterment of our people. He said the military operation in Balochistan continues unabated and the political workers and leaders are being kidnapped, inhumanly tortured and killed. He gave very recent examples of three leaders of BNM who were kidnapped in broad daylight and their decaying corpses were found few days latter. He said Pakistan army has surpassed all the levels of brutality and now nothing is left to talk to them. He said for Balochistan, which was forcibly annexed, and for Sindh the only dignified way is liberation. He said that the international community should support the secular Baloch and Sindhi people to defeat religious fundamentalism in the region.
Ms. Suraiya Makhdoom, Senior Vice Chairperson WSC, did a PowerPoint presentation, which tracked the historical resolve of Sindhi people for their right to self governance. She gave examples from history that how Sindhi people from Raja Dahar to Saeen G.M. Sayed and beyond have struggled and sacrificed for their freedom. She said Sindhi people have never accepted any foreign rule. She also reiterated that it is the hallmark of secular Sindhi people to wholeheartedly support the struggle of other oppressed nations. She reminded the help and response of Sindhis in the struggle of Indian independence, Bengali and Baloch people. She said the struggle of Sindhi people is a peaceful struggle and in this struggle, Sindhi writer and poets have also played a major role through their writings and poetry.
Mr. Adul Hamid Khan, Chairman of Balawaristan National Front, in his statement said that although Balawaristan does not have common borders with Sindh and Balochistan, it has many things in common. He saluted the sacrifices of Baloch people and particularly Nawab Akbar Bugti, who at the age of 80 decided to go in mountains in defence of his people and motherland. He also paid rich tributes to G.M. Sayed. He said Sindhi people struggled against Kalabagh dam, now the government wants to build six dams in Balawaristan. These will make Sindh a complete desert, and Punjab through these dams want to further colonise Balawaristan. He suggested a common struggle of people of Balawaristan, Sindh and Balochistan would be an effective answer to those who have made our nations to suffer inhumanely.
Dr Hidayat Bhutto, Organiser UK Europe WSC, in his statement said that Sindhi and Balochs are secular nations since centuries. Self Determination is our right, not a privilege. He said Pakistan is ruled by military generals and the brief periods of so-called democratic governments are a sham. That is the reason the current government did not trust the agencies to investigate murder of Benazir Bhutto. The current civilian government is powerless and has been unable to stop the ongoing military operation in Balochistan. He reiterated that the jihadi generals who rule Pakistan and Taliban have same mentality and are together and secular people of Sindh and Balochistan need to be supported in their struggle to gain self determination to effectively face them.
Lakhu Luhana in his statement said that the Pakistani establishment has adopted religious fundamentalism as their ideology to curb the secular nationalism of Sindhi and Baloch people and to use as a strategy for the extension of their wasted interests. He warned that the consequences of terror networks supported by Pakistan establishment based on religious fundamentalism would be lethal for the world and South Asian region in particular. The progress, peace and prosperity of the entire region are at stake if Pakistan ’s strategy succeeds. He said the money, weapons and technology given to Pakistan are used against Baloch and Sindhi people and to strengthen Pakistani military and terror networks. The only way to secure stability and peace in the region is to support the struggle of secular Sindhi and Baloch nations for their right to self-determination.