People’s Resistance, a civil society coalition of students, professionals and ordinary citizens, strongly condemns police violence and arrest of peaceful anti-war protesters in Quaidabad, Karachi today, on grounds that the right to peaceful dissent has been violated.
The march had been organized by The Jang Mukhalif Committee (Anti War Committee) comprising several local groups that have been protesting the army operation since August 2008. The committee included the Bajaur Committee of Peoples Resistance, Labor Party Pakistan, International Socialists, Swat Quami Ittehad, Anjumani-i-Buner, and many neighborhood groups.
At 6:15pm a disproportionately large police force, several hundred in number, baton-charged the protesters and even the cart-pullers and other people present in Quaidabad and later near Gul Ahmed Chowrangi.
Fifteen protesters were arrested and shifted to the Shah Latif Police Station and Quaidabad Police Chowki. Panic spread in the area.
Seven of the fifteen people – the exact number is unclear – were arrested from Quaidabad Chowk, in front of Hamid Hospital, and taken to Shah Latif Thana. After the arrests, the police lathi charged and dispersed the crowd. The vicious and prompt action has been videotaped. Rehana of International Socialists climbed into the policewagon as they were taking Ali Hassan, Riaz, Salaam, and others away. Later Adaner and Shaukat were picked up and taken to a Police Chowki, while they were only standing around. They were later brought to Shah Latif. Later, a few more people who were protesting the arrests were picked up from Gul Ahmed Chowrangi, and taken to a police station.
The update from Tanvir who is at the Police Station is that they have issued FIRs under Sectioin 188 of the PPC. But they have also said the decision will be made by higher ups. It looks likely that they will be in the Police Station all night long. Shah Latif Thana is beyond Landhi, on the right, on Shahrah e Faisal a couple of kilometers past FAST Institute. There are reports that they may be moved to another police station during the night.
Those arrested include Dr. Riaz, Ali Hassan, Rehana Channar, Ali Leghari, ,Asim Jaan of International Socialists, Adaner, Shujaat
Zaheer Khan and Salam of Labour Party of Pakistan, and Shoukat from Jang Mukhalif Committee. Rehana Channar was later released.
The protest was held to demand that the government halt its operation in Swat, Dir, Buner, and Waziristan. As the government tries to divert attention towards just relief efforts, the Committee presses that the war, the root cause of this immense human suffering, must be stopped.
According to Sartaj of International Socialists, “the operation has resulted in the large scale expulsion of more than 2 million people
from their homes. These people demand a peaceful return to their homes and lands and relief work will only provide them with temporary solutions.” Moreover, he states that there are no official counts of civilian deaths, estimated in the thousands, and there is absolutely no hope that these people will ever be compensated for their loss.
Salaam, a member of the committee, says that the Taliban, the target of this operation, will not be eliminated by military heavy
handedness; if anything, the operation will exacerbate the presence of these militias which will regroup and find new recruits.
People Resistance strongly condemns the brutal suppression of Peaceful Dissent and violent harassment of ordinary Citizens on the part of the concerned authorities, and demands the Immediate Release of those arrested.