Toronto, 06/25/2022: At a seminar hosted by the World Sindhi Congress – Canada chapter, representatives of the oppressed nations, Sindhi, Baloch, Pashtun, and Seraiki, presented a broad range of issues related to the several decades of Pakistani state atrocities, human rights violations, and systematic discrimination against the indigenous population in Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Progressive writers, journalists, and poets attended the seminar and expressed their views on politics, the history of the Subcontinent, and the rising tide of Islamist extremism sponsored by the Pakistani state and its security apparatus.
List of Speakers:
- Sami Jan Mengal, Baloch Human Rights Council of Canada
- Nader Baloch, Western Balochistan (Iran-occupied)
- Javed Tariq, Seraiki Sangat, Toronto
- Mumtaz Khan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
- Fiza Kalhoro, Trent University, Canada
- Siraj Khan Mohmand, Pashtun Human Rights Advocate, Canada
- Roohi Kalhoro, poet
- Salman Haider, poet
- Najeeb Qidwai, Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians
- Tarek Fatah, columnist, writer, and human rights defender, Canada
- Hajan Kalhoro, World Sindhi Congress, Canada
- Baseer Naveed, International Human Rights Council, Hong Kong
Representatives and human rights defenders strongly criticized Pakistan’s policies toward the oppressed Sindhi, Baloch, and Pashtun nations, political activists, press and journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society. Speakers described Pakistan as the state sponsor of terrorism, a destabilizer of peace and democratic societies in the region. Pakistan was founded based on the so-called “Two Nation Theory” – the division of India into Hindu and Muslim states. The ‘Two Nation Theory’ proved to be a disaster that destroyed South Asia’s ancient Indus Valley Civilizations and peace. The 1971 genocide of three million Bengalis by the Pakistan Army and the liberation of Bangladesh (former East Pakistan) was a historical development that exposed the foundations of Pakistan’s creation as a colonial conspiracy against the nations in the region.
Pakistan’s military establishment is a colonial army that runs the state to subjugate the oppressed nations of Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, depriving them of their natural wealth and resources.
National self-determination and self-rule for nations is an international agreement of free nations enshrined in the UN Charter of Rights. Therefore, the UN and the international community are obliged to support Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to regain their sovereignty, develop peacefully, and join the global efforts to bring peace to the region.
National Self-determination is a Decolonization Process against the Remnants of the British-imposed Pakistan State and its Military Setup
When the British colonial order was on the verge of decline, nations in Africa, Asia, and around the globe saw an opportunity for freedom in the new world emerging from the ruins of World War II. Balochistan’s one hundred years of anti-colonial struggle was concluding – finally, on August 11, 1947, Kalat declared its independence. One hundred years of battles and sacrifices won us the freedom that lasted only 227 days.
On March 27, 1948, the Pakistan army invaded Kalat, and Balochistan was annexed into the new Islamic state without the Baloch consent. The same powers who defeated Germany in Europe and fought partisan wars to end the Nazi occupation of France created the Pakistani garrison state and approved the occupation of the sovereign Baloch nation.
The idea of national self-determination can be traced to the American and French revolutions. The European conflicts – World War I, WW II, and the decolonization movements that followed in Asia and Africa shaped self-determination embodied at the UN as international law. Even though the Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked debate on self-determination and internationally armed (American & European) support for the occupied nation, it falls silent when confronted with the colonial remnant states and military garrisons of the British Empire left behind in South Asia.
The post-colonial state and military setup on the Subcontinent and the Middle East continued the colonial control and occupation of sovereign nations. Therefore, the decolonization process was diverted to accommodate the Western colonial interests and maneuverings based on global fears born of the Cold War and the Eastern Bloc. As a result, the right to self-determination went out of the window, and Iran and Pakistan became close American allies in the region while the Baloch, Kurds, Sindhis, Pashtuns, and Bengalis paid a massive price for rights, democracy, and self-rule.
Fast forward to the present Cold Peace era of challenges of global terrorism, Chinese imperialism, and rising nationalism in Europe and its former colonies. The state structure in Pakistan is a tool of the colonial masters, polished and designed to rule over oppressed nations, conquered and subjugated as British subjects.
Therefore, the political movement for national self-determination is a decolonization process against the remnants of the British-imposed structures – the Pakistan state and its military setup.
The experience of the seven decades of pro-democracy and national rights struggles in Pakistan is tantamount to the 1971 Bangladesh, Balochistan’s struggle for independence, Sindh’s struggle for national rights and democracy, and the Pashtun movement for rights and security from military-backed Talibanization. In every case, it is the people versus the state and its military. In every case, people are criminalized as the enemy of the state or “anti-state elements.”
Let us move on to human rights in Pakistan. The human rights situation in Pakistan is the logical outcome of the colonial order established in 1947. The state and its military is the biggest abuser of human rights in Pakistan. Balochistan’s human rights problems started when we lost our national sovereignty. On March 27, 1948, the Pakistan Army invaded and occupied Balochistan while the British and the rest of the champions of national self-determination celebrated the birth of the monster – the Pakistani state.
Human rights in Pakistan are not the same for everyone. We know that from the statements made by the country’s lawmakers, officials, and honourable judges of the Islamabad High Court regarding the ethnic profiling of Baloch students by the state security forces. Moreover, the cases of enforced disappearances in Balochistan are not only escalating at a staggering rate, but the state’s attitude toward human rights in Balochistan is also that of an army of occupation.
A Lahore-based political analyst once rightly said, “Pakistan Army will never commit mass murder or massacre on the streets of Lahore as they did in East Pakistan in 1971, Balochistan, Sindh, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
On several occasions, human rights defenders in Pakistan accepted that enforced disappearances of Baloch youth are linked to the Balochistan independence struggle. In other words, the legitimate demand for national self-determination from the government or the deep state of Pakistan will result in severe repressive measures. Moreover, the international community that believes in national self-determination silently shares the UN Human Rights Council with Pakistan and Iran – the worse abusers of human rights.
The people of Balochistan would not be talking about enforced disappearances if the nation was not invaded and occupied by Pakistan in 1948. Then, the sovereign Balochistan would have been a member of the United Nations, defending its land, sea coast, and natural resources with the honourable support of free nations.
How is Balochistan different from Ukraine? Of course, we are not in Europe. Today, Ukraine has been rightly granted international support from the US and Europe, including heavy weaponry. As a result, the Ukrainian civilians, men and women are getting arms and necessary training to fight the invading Russian army. Support for Ukraine is the right action in implementing national self-determination enshrined in the UN Declaration. We demand the same from the international community for the oppressed nations in South Asia and the Middle East.
In conclusion, national self-determination may be part of international law and a legitimate right, but the bias and the interests of the West are the biggest challenges we need to overcome or adjust to before we can be considered worthy of being free nations.
In any case, we must stand together for our rights and freedom. Our unity is the only weapon that can change the international community’s mind.
Speech by Sami Jan Mengal
June 25, 2022
Iran-Occupied Balochistan is Facing Worst Human Rights Violations & Mass Executions
Good evening everyone,
I thank my Sindhi friends for giving me this opportunity today to speak on a subject that deeply concerns the region of Balochistan under Iranian occupation since 1928 and is less known by the world. Today, the Baloch nation exists in three countries following the British invasion of Kalat in 1839, following the martyrdom of Khan of Kalat, Mir Mehrab Khan, and the division of Balochistan by new boundaries in 1871 when western Balochistan was given away to Persian monarchs. In 1893 the demarcation of the Durand Line divided the Pashtuns and swallowed up Afghan lands that later became the Northwest Frontier of British-made Pakistan.
The region called western Balochistan under the Iranian occupation has always bravely fought for its freedom and, as a result, faced the worst form of fascism during the Pahlavi period and currently by the extremist religious regime since 1979.
The Baloch in Iran have faced centuries of colonialism, monarchy, military rule, and Shia extremism – they all were brutal in their ways of eliminating our national identity, culture, and self-determination over our land and resources.
The brutal Pahlavi rule and the Shia regime renamed our cities, towns, and historical places, replacing them with Persian ones. As a result, every Baloch child born in western Balochistan is forced to choose a name from a list approved by Tehran, and our traditional Balochi names have disappeared over the last 90 years. Moreover, the regime does not approve of Balochi being promoted as a language. There is a complete ban on Balochi publications, news, poetry, songs, and music by the previous and the present government. Balochi language and literature cannot be taught as a subject or medium of instruction in schools and universities.
Baloch people face discrimination in education, economic development, and employment as a policy of Tehran to keep Balochistan backward.
The Iranian state recognizes only Shia Islam as the country’s official religion, while followers of the minority faiths are brutally persecuted and forcefully converted to the state ideology. In addition, Baloch civilians who are followers of Sunni Islam face discrimination and humiliation in every walk of life. As a result, the Baloch nation is a target of state repression because of their ethnicity and faith.
On June 6, 2022, 12 Baloch prisoners were executed inside the Zahedan Central Prison, the capital of western Balochistan. Among the 12 executed, 11 were men, and one was a woman. Data gathered by human rights groups show that Baloch prisoners accounted for 21 percent of all executions in 2021 while only representing 2 – 6 percent of Iran’s population. In addition, from January 2022 to June 2022, 63 Baloch civilians were executed by Iranian authorities. These mass executions show a pattern of the genocide of the Baloch nation.
Iranian authorities systematically divided and broke up the Baloch territory and merged the land into other provinces. In addition, Balochistan is being populated by non-Baloch Persians and Shia Hazaras to change the demography and culture of Balochistan. The coastal belt and port city of Chabahar are the main focus following China’s $ 400 billion trade agreement. By the way, Chabahar is the only seaport in Iran located on the open sea. In the next 25 years, China will be the leading economic power throughout the Baloch coastal belt from Chabahar to Jask in western Balochistan; and from Gaddani, Somiani, and Ormara to Gwadar, Pasni, and Jiwani in eastern Balochistan. With the Iran-Pakistan-China nexus, Baloch will lose its towns and seaports with serious demographic changes through settler colonialism.
Iran and Pakistan have had secret agreements since Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1972-77 to crush and control Baloch nationalism on both sides of the borders. During the 1973-77 Baloch insurgency, Iran’s Shah sent fighter jets with Iranian pilots to bombard Baloch freedom fighters’ positions in eastern Balochistan.
The times have changed with the new generation of young Baloch uniting the cause of freedom from foreign occupation and armies. Today, Baloch youth are politically more aware on both sides of the border. Moreover, we are finding more nations uniting against the common enemy.
We stand with our brothers and sisters in Sindh, Pashtunistan, Kurdistan, Al-Ahwaz, and other oppressed nationalities struggling for their rights and freedom.
Long live the unity of nations for freedom.
Speech by Nader Baloch
June 25, 2022
At the Conference, World Sindhi Congress