WSI and BSO-NA protest in front of Pakistan Embassy on August 14, 2007

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Washington, DC: The World Sindhi Institute organized a peaceful protest rally on the occasion of Pakistan Day, August 14, 2007 in front of the Embassy of Pakistan. Pakistani expatriates in the United States staged a demonstration demanding a return of democracy in their country, and accused President Pervez Musharraf`s military regime of violating human rights in Balochistan and Sindh provinces. American supporters and human rights activists also joined the protesters. They specifically protested against disappearance of thousands of Sindhi and Baloch journalists, workers, human rights & political activists, writers, poets, philosophers, teachers, students and political opponents of the present military headed regime, who are arrested extra-judicially and are behind bars without any trial. The WSI protestors were joined by members of Baloch Society of North America (BSO-NA), Torture Abolition & Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC) International, Sindhi Association of North America (SANA), Association of Pakistani Physicians for Justice and Democracy (APPJD), Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP), Pakistan Muslim League (N), and some individual Human Rights activists. This sizeable group of organizations and individuals held a sit-in outside Embassy of Pakistan in Washington, DC on Pakistan`s Independence Day, expressing great concern over continuing oppression in a free nation and conveying messages that oppressive regimes in Pakistan have forced the Independence Day to become a day of commemorating human rights violations. The protestors chanted slogans against arrest, torture & killing of thousands of secular Baloch and Sindhi Nationalists in the hands of the Pakistani Administration, Military and Intelligence. They demanded a complete end to Musharraf`s rule, and immediate return of army to the barracks. They forcefully protested against the dictatorial and oppressive way of extra-judicially arresting political opponents. They also demanded that Dr. Safdar Sirki, a U.S. citizen, be released from illegal detention by the authorities in Pakistan. Some members of the rally gave short speeches to the audience. Mr. Munawar Laghari, Executive Director of WSI said, "60 years of Pakistan's history has witnessed denial of truth by the establishment, military and Inter-Service intelligence, who are truly ruling the country, not its People. Laghari continued that that they would continue their struggle for the Sindhis and Baloch people's right for self-determination. Dr. Wahid Baloch of BSO-NA addressed the rally with the following words: "Balochistan was never a part of Pakistan, but a sovereign state and one year after the creation of Pokistan out of India, Pokistan attacked the sovereign Baloch state and forcefully annexed it into Pakistan". He said, "Baloch eople are fighting for their freedom for the last 60 years and in this connection a Case is being filed to the International Court of Justice by Khan of Kalat in near future, to challenge the Pakistani illegal occupation of Balochistan. He further said, "While Pokistan celebrate the Independence Day, the Baloch and Sindhi are observing a black day worldwide and in Sindh and Balochistan". He asked the United Nation and the world community to intervene in order to end the Pakistani illegal occupation of Balochistan and genocide of Baloch people. Mr. Harold Nelson from TASSC International declared that nations are not made by torture; they are built through struggle and resistance to violence and injustice. Pointing towards the Embassy of Pakistan, he said, "The true Pakistani nation is NOT there". He then pointed towards the protestors on the pathway across the street and said, "The actual future of the nation is HERE". He extended absolute solidarity with the torture victims in the jails of Pakistan, who opposed a dictatorial rule in their country and demanded that the practice of torture and persecution for opposition must end in the whole world. Mrs. Razia Rabb, Chairperson Women Wing of Jamhoori Watan Party in her speech extended solidarity and regards to all those Baloch women who have the courage to declare a hunger strike in Quetta Balochistan, against the enforced arrests of their dear ones. She said, "The Chief Justice of the country was removed from his position when he issued suo moto notice enquiring about these extra-judicial arrests". She expressed shock and grief over the recent and continued military operation on the Baloch demanding their due right on their resources, resulting in execution of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, a true and sincere representative of the National cause and truly a man of integrity. "People of Pakistan are stricken with the dire poverty. We want those resources to be redirected from useless wasting of so-called defense" said Khalid Hashmani, a Sindhi protester. He spoke in Urdu directly to the Pakistan Embassy officials sitting in their offices demanding immediate release of the victims of illegal arrests and torture. He also commended WSI for taking the initiative to coordinate this very successful rally. Mr. Sarfraz Memon, Information Secretary of SANA also expressed similar sentiments of grief against the poor human rights situation in Sindh and Balochistan. He stressed on the need for continued, persistent and unified effort for the plight of basic rights for Sindhis in Pakistan. Dr. Ghazala, Chairperson of APPJD in her speech stressed upon the dire and urgent need to strengthen the justice system in Pakistan. She said, "Only a democratic approach would take the country towards a direction of progress and peace in that region. At this stage, all democracy and peace loving people must join together as a force to resist violations of people's constitutional rights in Pakistan". She referred to the incidence of illegal removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry as a black mark in the history of the country and commended all the forces within Pakistan as well as through out the world, that jointly exerted pressure on Government of Pakistan, who subsequently had no other option than to follow the path of justice and re-instate the Chief Justice back to his due position. Haji Khokar representing Muslim League (N) strongly expressed resentment over military headed regime and chanted loud slogans for restoration of democracy in Pakistan. Among repeatedly chanted slogans of "Long live Sindh; Long live Balochistan", "Down with Military Rule", "Free the disappeared Sindhis and Baloch" and "Release Safdar Sarki", the protestors held posters mentioning the following: · End Military Rule in Pakistan · Killing fields of Pakistan; Sindh and Balochistan · Where is Dr. Safdar Sarki · How many more Baloch and Sindhis must die of torture? · Stop State Terrorism in Sindh & Balochistan · No more BOOTS in Pakistan! · Enough is Enough – General Musharraf · Million Pakistanis are waiting for their "Disappeared" relatives · Long Live Baloch Struggle for freedom · Release Baloch and Sindhi political prisoners · Release Safdar Sarki · Stop military operation in Balochistan The peaceful yet extremely vibrant protest ended after about one and a half hour. To the world media and international community, the Rally activists brought up the need that international involvement is crucial in their campaign to end oppression.

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