ISLAMABAD: Awami Workers Party (AWP) members and katchi abadi residents who have been protesting for the right to housing since the demolition of the I-11 katchi abadi in August last year, gathered in G-7 on Sunday to paint murals, calling for housing for all.

They also held a protest, and called on the Supreme Court to ensure right to housing for those who run the city’s affairs but don’t have anywhere to live.

Students, artists and activists gathered at Iqbal Town katchi abadi in G-7 to paint a mural calling for housing rights for all.

The event was organised by AWP Islamabad, in connection with the Supreme Court case on katchi abadis and the right to housing.

The mural featured depictions of katchi abadi residents and messages that read ‘We feed this city, we clean this city, we have a right to live in this city’ and ‘Employment, education, cleanliness, water, electricity and gas are everyone’s right’. A number of katchi abadi residents also painted the mural.

AWP activist and NCA faculty member Noorjehan Mawaz Khan said the purpose of the mural was twofold: to beautify areas that are regarded by the authorities as the ‘ugly’ parts of the city, and to remind the authorities of their responsibilities towards all citizens, including the working classes.

She said the abject condition of the city’s katchi abadis was a symbol of the state’s neglect toward its poorest citizens. She said the mural aimed to illustrate this and call for a collective reckoning by society and the state against the deplorable state of affairs.

AWP Islamabad secretary Ammar Rashid said CDA’s attitude toward Islamabad’s working classes has always been negative.

“Despite the fact that the Supreme Court has clearly termed housing a basic, fundamental right that the state is bound to provide to the poorest, the CDA continues to look at the issue of katchi abadis from a prejudiced, anti-poor and anti-minority viewpoint that sees all the poor as criminals,” he said.

Iqbal Colony resident Chaudhry James said he was hoping for a good judgement in the Supreme Court case. He called on the government to regularise existing settlements and create low-income housing schemes.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2016

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