August 4, 2011

Sindh: Human Rights Abuses Continue Against Fishing Communities

An AHRC update has highlighted the continued abuse and terrorisation of environmental activists and local communities by paramilitary groups in the rural areas surrounding Karachi. The systematic failure of authorities to prevent the continued black-market exploitation of local resources has only exacerbated such abuses.

Below is an article published by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC):

The AHRC has received information that after the land mafia led by Mr. Haji Younis and his son and former town mayor, Mr. Zulfiqar Younis allegedly murdered two activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) in May 2011, they continue to carry out violent attacks against other fisherfolk activists who may face the same fate.

On 18 July, 2011, around 3pm, two fisherfolk activists, Mr. Latif Dorai (son of Muhammad Omar, 35 years old), a prominent leader of the PFF and Mr. Bilal Ahmed Baloch (son of Qadir Bax, 30 years old) were abducted on their way to the Kakka Pir village, Mauripur, Karachi, Sindh province. At the check post of the Coastguards, 12 armed persons hired by the land mafia who are engaged in Mangrove cutting in Keamari town which is one and half kilometres away from Kakka pir village stopped these two activists and tried to abduct them. The two victims asked the Coastguard personnel to prevent them from being abducted but the culprits forced the officials to talk to someone over the phone and as a result the officials gave up their intervention.

While Bilal managed to escape from them, the armed persons brought Latif to two notorious land mafia, Mr. Haji Younis and his son Zulfiqar Younis in Younis Abad, in Mauripur. More than 20 persons severely beat Latif. After this, they brought Latif to another place where the public hospital would be constructed in Kakka pir village.

Mr. Haji Younis forced Latif to call up the chairperson of PFF Mr. Muhammad Ali Shah and a general secretary of PFF, Mr. Saeed Baloch to ask both to come and rescue Latif, which he refused. Haji Younis then ordered his men to pour petrol over Latif and set him on fire.

Meanwhile, the PFF leaders were informed that Latif was abducted and beaten. At about 4:30pm, the PFF activist made a phone call to Latif and said that the PFF activists would be coming there with the police. Haji Younis listening to the dialogue immediately and took Latif to the Mauripur police station and filed a false FIR against him. Those who brought Latif to the police station made a false statement that he was interfering in a government matter, which is the reason why people had beaten him up.

The chairperson and the general secretary of the PFF along with other activists also reached the police station. They had to argue with the police to register a FIR against the land mafia who had committed

Only after one and a half hours, the Station House Officer (SHO) registered a non-cognizable report that deals with a minor case, charging Haji Younis and Zulfiqar in regard to the offence against Latif. On the same day, Latif got medical treatment at the Civil Hospital Karachi on which the medical report has not yet been released although the SHO provided them with a letter to the Medical Legal Officer (MLO) of the Civil Hospital. The police do not see the incident as serious despite the fact that the fisherfolk activists currently face threats of murder and other serious human rights violations.

The police registered the false FIR against these two fisher folk activists whereas they failed to conduct an objective investigation into the incident. So far neither the Medical Legal Officer has issued a medical report nor has an FIR been registered against the perpetrators.

 

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