PAKISTAN: More than 400 activists arrested within 72 hours prior to President's visit to
PAKISTAN: Violation of the freedom of assembly; persecution of political and human rights
activists; arbitrary arrest and detention; abuse of rights in the pretext of maintaining
public order; un-rule of law
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The Asian Human Rights Commission has received information that the Pakistani
government has arrested more than 400 political and human rights activists within 72
hours from the night of 27 November 2006 to stop the planned protest during President
Musharraff's two day visit to Balochistan province from 30 November 2006. We were also
informed that the government has imposed the maintenance of Public Order Ordinance
throughout the province and also arrested the former chief minister of Balochistan. This is
clear violation of freedom of assembly and expression of people in Balochistan and we call
for your urgent intervention into this matter.
Balochistan National Party (BNP) has planed to organize a protest called "Long March" from
30 November 2006 on the same day when President Musharaff will begin his two days visit
to Balochistan province. The protest aims at raising voice against the ongoing military
operations, the establishment of military cantonments and alleged arrest, detention and
forced disappearances of political and human rights activists by the military in the
province. The protesters also had a plan to protest during the march against the killing of
a political leader Mr. Akber Bugti in an air attack on 27 August 2006 and the construction
of the mega project at Gwader, which will lead large scale of eviction of indigenous people
in the area.
The 1200-kilometer long march was scheduled to start from the coastal city of Gwader on
November 30 and end at Quetta on December 11. The BNP also planned to hold several
meetings during the march in different cities to mobilize people of Balochistan against the
military operation, killings and disappearances in the province.
However, the Pakistan government began to arrest the political and human rights activists
in order to stop this march and within 72 hours from the night of November 27 more than
400 activists were arrested by the police and military personnel. During the debate in the
Senate sessions, the opposition parties accused the government of arresting 158 activists
including the former chief minister of Balochistan and other leadership of the BNP within
24 hours only on November 28 in the pretext of the maintenance of Public Order
Ordinance. The minister for parliamentary affairs confirmed to the upper house about such
arrests but instead of positively dealing with this matter, simply told advised opposition
parties to bring the cases to the court for the release of the arrested people.
Meanwhile, many people voluntarily went on strike and closed their shops in different
cities of Balochistan in order to protest against such large scale arrest. The people fear
that there may be more severe actions against people Balochistan by the military.