The AWP Federal Committee member along with 10 youth activists are languishing in Damas jail for nine years now, serving life term handed down by ATC on trumped-up charges.
Islamabad: The Awami Workers Party expresses deep concern over the incarceration of its senior leader Baba Jan in jail for the last 10 years and calls upon Gilgit-Baltistan authorities to ensure his immediate release along with 10 other activists, and abrogate the life-imprisonment terms.
Baba Jan, member of the Federal Committee and 10 other political activists are serving a life sentence in Ghizer District’s Damas Jail after being wrongfully convicted by an Anti-Terrorism Court on trumped-up charges for participating in a protest against the killing of a disaster-hit man and his son by police at Aliabad Hunza on August 11, 2011.
Some families who had been displaced by the Atabad disaster on January 4, 2010, had blocked Karakoram Highway (KKH) on which the then Chief Minister Mehdi Shah was due to travel. Police fired teargas and gunshots to disperse the protesters, killing the two protesters triggering a massive protest in many towns in which a number of government buildings and police stations were torched. Despite the fact that Baba Jan was not even present at the protest site, he was blamed for them and convicted along with 10 others by an ATC judge.
In April 2015, the Chief Court of the region acquitted them. But the Supreme Appellate Court on May 25, 2016, upheld the ATC verdict, four days before a by-election for Gilgit-Baltistan Legislative Assembly seat in Hunza, in order to prevent Baba Jan from contesting elections from behind bars.
In a joint statement on the anniversary of the conviction of Baba Jan on this day, the AWP President Yousaf Mustikhan, secretary-general Akhtar Hussain, deputy secretary, Ismat Shahjehan, organising secretary Javed Akhtar, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa president Haider Zaman, Sindh president Bakhshal Thalho, Balochistan President Yousuf Kakar, Saraiki Waseb President Farhat Abbas, Punjab President Ammar Rashid and Jammu and Kashmir AWP chairman Nisar Shah Advocate, AWPGB leaders Ikram Jamal, Akhtar Amin, Akhun Bai, Inayat Abdali, and Anayat Baig, AWPUK leaders Chaudhry Pervez Fateh and others have expressed solidarity with the prisoners of conscience as well as their families.
They warned that if they were not released, the party will launch a national and international protest campaign.
“Baba Jan has committed no crime and is being victimized for his struggles for the rights of the working class and the poor of the region. The spurious charges against him and all other political prisoners carry no weight and must be dropped immediately, the AWP leadership said.
“In fact, Baba Jan is being punished for his irrepressible popularity amongst young and politically conscious people in GB and indeed, Pakistan at large. His election campaign conducted from jail in 2015 remains a triumph of popular power, with only the financial and repressive resources of Hunza’s traditional elite and the Pakistani state apparatus that prevented him from winning the election outright.
It is unacceptable that the Supreme Appellate Court of GB still has not constituted a full bench for hearing his review petition for 3 years.
“We call upon the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of this longstanding miscarriage of justice in Gilgit-Baltistan and order his release. We call for making public the findings of the judicial inquiry into the killing of protesters in Aliabad on 11th August 2011 public and bringing to justice the police officials responsible for killing the two IDPs,” the statement read.
“Further, we call for revoking the application of draconian laws, including the Anti-Terrorism Act on political workers and activists in Gilgit-Baltistan, and granting GB citizens basic political and constitutional rights as per their aspirations and in accordance with UNCIP resolutions as well as the right to appeal in the Pakistani Supreme Court.”
The leadership further said that AWP rejects any governance order imposed through a Presidential order and at the behest of the imperialist powers on GB against the popular demand of the people of the region who are seeking internal autonomy.
“We consider the proposed provisional provincial status for GB a ploy to further strengthen the colonial and bureaucratic strangulation and usurp the resources of the people of the region by the PTI government,” they said.
“We call for an end to the neo-colonial mechanisms of the rule in Gilgit-Baltistan and the transferring legislation and administrative powers to a genuinely autonomous local assembly elected by the people of the region and abolition the GB Council and Ministry of Kashmir Affairs.
“We call for setting up of an independent judiciary as well as an independent judicial commission to appoint judges to GB courts on merit rather through executive orders.”
The AWP leadership said that the party and supporters of human rights across Pakistan and the rest of the world urged all political parties, progressive forces, human rights defenders and international bodies to raise their voice on this state repression and miscarriage of justice in GB and exert pressure on the PTI government to immediately release them.
By the Information secretary
Awami Workers Party