Ishtiaq Ahmed of Asia Peace seeks urgent support for Okara landless tenants where one Christian Suleman Masih have been killed by military firing.
31 Aug 2002
Stockholm. August 30. Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at Stockholm University and leader of Asia Peace, Affiliate of Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA). have urged the international community to a
As things stand now, more than 10 villages of Okara military farms are besieged by thousands of police, military and paramilitary forces. In village (chak) 4-4/L, where most of the firing and shelling took place, there are at least 3 tenants dead, including one woman. There are numerous tenants injured. However, none of the dead or injured can be attended to as the forces surrounding the village have completely closed off entry and exit. Those who are supposed to be protecting them have taken prisoner the tenants in their own homes.
Meanwhile in neighboring Renala State military farms, electricity and water connections in four villages have been severed. Harassment of the worst kind is taking place: government employees of these villages are being issued show-cause notices threatening termination of services unless they compel the tenants to give up their demand for ownership rights. The activists of Anjuman Mazarain Punjab are all being hunted down. Already at least 8 activists have been in jail for months.
Similar violence was unleashed on other farms in previous months, including in Khanewal in June/July. The tenants have emerged from all of this harassment with their movement stronger than before. However, the sheer magnitude of the atrocities committed today in Okara has left all who have been involved in this movement stunned. Government officials have been non-committal and have claimed a lack of knowledge of the events that have taken place. As general elections approach, it seems the military has decided to consummate its authority through a demonstration of force so obscene that all challengers might be intimidated into silence.
We request your help once again in demanding justice for the tenants. The one million tenants represented by Anjuman Mazarain Punjab reside on 68,000 acres of land across 10 districts in Punjab. General Musharraf and other cabinet ministers have promised them ownership rights repeatedly. It is high time that the government follows through on its promises.
It's for information's that People's Rights Movement (PRM) is a confederation of social movements across Pakistan. Anjuman Mazarain Punjab is a constituent member of PRM.
Meanwhile today on 29 August The Daily dawn Karachi have reported that a " Writ filed in LHC to exhume Masih's body "
According to Nadeem Saeed of Daily Dawn from Multan, The Anjuman Mazareen Punjab (AMP) has filed two separate writ petitions in the Lahore High Court, one for the exhumation of the body of Suleman Masih and the other for the recovery of tenants' leader Anwar Javed Dogar.
AMP President Chaudhry Abdul Jabbar told Dawn by telephone from Okara that the petition for the exhumation of Suleman's body to conduct autopsy was filed by his father Pitras Masih and the habeas corpus petition for the recovery of missing AMF chairman Anwar Javed Dogar by his wife.
The Rangers handed over the body of Suleman Masih, 20, to his family on Aug 25, a day after the paramilitary force and police opened fire at a gathering of Okara military farm tenants. It is believed that Suleman was among the tenants rounded up by the Rangers on Aug 24 during the operation to crush tenants' revolt for ownership rights over the lands they had been cultivating for nearly a century.
The Rangers authorities had forced the family of Suleman to bury his body without performing autopsy and other legal formalities. The LHC issued notice to the Punjab advocate-general for Friday on the habeas petition to inform the court about the whereabouts of Dogar and detail of the charges, if any, against him. Dogar has been missing since the Rangers and police opened fire at the tenants' gathering in Okara on Aug 24. The authorities expressed ignorance about his whereabouts while his wife alleged that the Rangers had arrested him.
SIEGE CONTINUES: On the other hand, the Rangers and police had been keeping on the siege of the villages of Okara military farms for the sixth day running on Thursday. Anyone wanting to go to the besieged villages was said to be roughed up by the law enforcers at the entry points.
The authorities had deployed more contingents around Chak 10/4L ahead of the memorial service of deceased Suleman Masih, scheduled to be held on Friday at his native village.
Top priests of Catholic sect of the Christian community, tenants' representatives from all the 21 state-managed agricultural and livestock farms of Punjab and human rights activists are likely to attend the Memorial service.
AMP general secretary Younas Iqbal told Dawn that the Rangers and police were creating hurdles to check a large gathering at the memorial service. He claimed that several residents of Chak 10/4L had been arrested on various pickets of the 'law enforcers.' Meanwhile, the Okara police had shifted injured tenants Mohammad Akram, Mohammad Jameel and Ghulam Rasool to Sahiwal central jail from the Okara DHQ hospital where they were under treatment after sustaining bullet. Injuries on Aug 24. They have been charged with killing Suleman Masih.