Balochistan freedom charter launched in London; Tatchell calls for debate

LONDON: One of the world’s most well-known human rights activist Peter Tatchell has released the draft Balochistan Freedom Charter (BFC), which he said he and about a dozen Baloch activists contributed to writing, during a visit to the United Nations in Geneva in March.

Tatchell was in Geneva on the invitation of Mehran Baluch, youngest son of legendary Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.

“It is just a proposal, for discussion and amendment as you see fit,” Tatchell said. “The idea is to set out a clear agenda of what Baloch nationalists want, and the policies you would pursue in a future free and independent Balochistan.”

Tatchell helped raise the profile of the Baloch liberation struggle in the United Kingdom. In his activism, he has ambushed dictators like Pakistan military general Pervez Musharraf and homophobic Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe. Tatchell, who openly calls himself a sodomite, has also been beaten up by Russian police in Moscow for advocating gay rights.

The BFC is similar, and modelled on, the African National Congress’s Freedom Charter which successfully mobilised the South African masses and international public opinion against apartheid and in support of the ANC.

“For the Baloch people and nationalist cause, the BFC could become a very useful and effective focus for national and international campaigns,Tatchell said. “The current absence of a concrete, specific programme is a major weakness,” he added.

Tatchell said the BFC is important for three reasons:

a). The people of Balochistan have a right to know what the nationalist movement stands for. They are more likely to rally and unite behind a concrete programme. This BFC is designed to unite the largest possible number of Baloch people. Maximum unity has been the key to every successful national liberation struggle.

b). Pakistan needs to be put on the spot with specific demands to end militarisation, occupation and the denial of human rights and the right to self-determination.

c). The UN and governments worldwide are more likely to support the Baloch national struggle if they know what Baloch nationalists are seeking and the character of a future independent Balochistan. The BFC’s statements about democracy, human rights and secularism are particularly important and will resonate with the western governments, human rights organisations and UN/EU etc that Baloch need to convince and win to your side.

The Balochistan Freedom Charter is a programme for Baloch freedom, democracy and secularism which has been opned for debate, amendment and revision.

Those who helped Tatchell with the drafting of the charter include young Baloch activist Mir Noordin Mengal and a number of U.K., U.S. and Canada based activists.

“We appeal to all Baloch people to unite in support of the Baloch Freedom Charter, for the liberation of our oppressed and occupied nation and for the empowerment and well-being of our people,” those who helped in the formulation of the rough draft said.

End the conflict:

A ceasefire and the cessation of all military operations, withdrawal of troops and paramilitaries to barracks and a halt to the construction of new military bases and outposts – with independent monitoring and supervision by UN observers and peace-keepers.

Release of all political prisoners and a full account of the fate of all disappeared persons.

Open access to all parts of Balochistan for journalists, aid agencies and human rights organisations.

Right of return of displaced refugees, restoration of their property and compensation for losses caused by the conflict.

End inward colonisation of Balochistan by non-Baloch settlers.

A UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, offering the people of Balochistan of the option of independence.

A new Balochistan:

Social justice, equality and human rights for all Baloch people.

Land reform – The right of every adult Baloch person to have a share of land ownership.

Redistribution of wealth and power to all the people of Balochistan.

A secular state, where people of all faiths and none have equal legal status and where no religion is privileged in law, government or public institutions.

Democratic and personal freedoms, including free, multi-party elections, the right to protest and freedom of speech and the press, as enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

A UN Commission of Inquiry into disappeared persons, and the victims of detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial killings, including the victimisation of both Baloch national leaders and ordinary Baloch citizens.

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