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Pro-Balochistan protesters baton-charged

September 10, 2006

RAWALPINDI, Sept 9: Scores of left-wing political activists and civil society members were injured when the police resorted to baton-charge on a peaceful demonstration outside the Rawalpindi Press Club here on Saturday.

The police swung into action as the protesters, including students, teachers, women activists and political workers, emerged from the Press Club to lodge a symbolic demonstration, against the military operation in Balochistan.

Earlier a video documentary on military operation in Dera Bugti and Sui was screened at the Press Club which was organised by the Balochistan Solidarity Front (BSF), a broad-based coalition of progressive political workers, intellectuals and citizens.

Speaking on the occasion, Aasim Sajjad of the Peoples Rights Movement (PRM) said that “the police action against a peaceful demonstration is a microcosm of the state’s attitude towards the Baloch people.

“The situation in Balochistan is nothing short of a civil war and this is purely the fault of the army for refusing to engage in political dialogue to address the Baloch people’s genuine grievances”, Mr Sajjad said.

He said the working class people of Punjab and other provinces were opposed to the military operation in the restive province and stood in solidarity with the Baloch people.

The government has deliberately attempted to create mistrust between working people of different nationalities so as to prevent a collective struggle against military dictatorship.

Speaking on the occasion Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) leader Rauf Mengal who resigned as member of the National Assembly three days ago, said that his resignation reflected the feelings of the Baloch people as well as his party that there was no trust left among the Baloch people and that they have no faith in the government’s claims of democracy, development and progress.

He said, “the Baloch people now understand that their only resort is to struggle against dictatorship and that there is no longer any point in engaging with the state”.

Mr Mengal said that it was up to the rest of the opposition parties and those who claim to be committed to democracy to show solidarity with the struggle of the Baloch people by also tendering their resignations.

He said if mainstream political parties did not stand with the people at this historical juncture, the little remaining trust that working people have in political parties would also be eroded.

After the baton-charge, the protesters lodged a sit-in on the road leading to the Press Club and chanted slogans against state repression and police violence.

They vowed to continue supporting the democratic struggle of the Baloch people and debunk the myths being propagated by the establishment that the state was bringing development to the province.

“It is untrue that the struggle in Balochistan is being conducted by three sardars, in fact it [struggle] represents the aspirations of the entire Baloch nation and they will not rest until they get their rights”, the protesters said.

They warned that the 1970-like situation has been created and the country will disintegrate if the military government did not change its attitude and its anti-people policies.