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WBO & UNPO announce side-event to the UNHRC in Geneva: “A legacy of injustice: CPEC and its impact on Balochistan”

WBO & UNPO announce side-event to the UNHRC in Geneva: “A legacy of injustice: CPEC and its impact on Balochistan”

Side-Event to the 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council

A legacy of injustice: CPEC and its impact on Balochistan

13 March 2018| 14:30 – 15:30

Room VII – Palais des Nations, Geneva

On the 13 March 2018, the conference “A legacy of injustice: CPEC and its impact on Balochistan” will take place at the Palais the Nations, in Geneva, as a side-event to the 37th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Co-organised by the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), the event will be hosted by the Nonviolent Radical Party.

The announcement below was published by UNPO:

On New Year’s Day, Pakistani forces attacked the Loti Zain area of Dera Bugti, in Balochistan, abducting nine people, most of them women and children. Victims of intensified brutality and collective punishment over the past months, the Baloch people find themselves forgotten in a humanitarian crisis. While their homeland is, ironically, the largest and richest province in terms of natural resources in Pakistan, it is also the poorest: Balochistan struggles with depressing social indicators on health, education, poverty and unemployment. However, instead of being at the heart of the world’s attention, Balochistan is held hostage of media censorship by the Pakistani establishment.

A military and commercial strategic location as a crossroads to Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and a 750km long coastline, from the Arabia Sea to the Gulf of Hormuz, Balochistan has become a “great power arena”, especially in light of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  Determined to protect foreign interests in Baloch soil, Pakistan rules with an iron fist, systematically denying basic human rights, including torture, enforced disappearances and arbitrary killings. Only between the months of September and October 2017, more than 240 Balochi individuals were forcibly disappeared.

This side-event to the 37th session of the Human Rights Council will bring together academic, experts and renowned human rights advocates to discuss the challenges and interests at stake. Most importantly, it will raise awareness of a long-forgotten humanitarian crisis, aiming to put the issue of human rights violations in Balochistan at the heart of the agenda of the Human Rights Council.

Full programme will be annouced soon. 

 

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event
WBO Conference in Washington DC Sheds Light on Geopolitics Behind the Human Rights Situation in Balochistan

WBO Conference in Washington DC Sheds Light on Geopolitics Behind the Human Rights Situation in Balochistan

On 5 October 2017, The World Baloch Organization (WBO) convened a conference on the deteriorating human rights and security situation in  Balochistan and the geopolitical complexities affecting the region. The conference entitled “Scales of Injustice: The Geopolitics of Business, State-Sponsored Extremism and the Fall of Democracy in Balochistan” took place at the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital.

The conference heard speeches from Nasser Boladai (President of UNPO), Senator Paul Strauss (Sen. District of Columbia), Bhawal Mengal (WBO), Christine Fair (Georgetown University) and T. Kumar (Amnesty International USA).

Opening the conference, Nasser Boladai welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the history of Balochistan, highlighting the region’s geopolitical importance and recent incidents of gross human rights violations perpetrated by Iranian security forces against Baloch civilians. Senator Paul Strauss (District of Columbia, Shadow) then commended the platform provided by UNPO for unrepresented nations and peoples to raise their concerns at the international level and to learn from each other’s struggles. He pointed out that while, on first glance, the struggle of the people of Balochistan might not have much in common with the situation of the unrepresented citizens of the District of Columbia, the common denominator is the importance of peoples’ right to decide over their own destiny. In a video statement, WBO representative Bhawal Mengal then elaborated on the importance of raising the plight of the Baloch people in places such as Washington, DC, urging the international community to condemn state-sponsored terror in Pakistan and stand up for the human rights of the Baloch people.

The first talk by Christine Fair then looked at the geopolitics behind the Balochistan-Pakistan conflict and in particular at the impact of the China – Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which, according to her, is an “exploitative corridor” rather than an economic one and is implemented in a way that seems to benefit everybody but the people actually living in the area. Professor Fair also highlighted the fact that Islamabad uses forms of political Islam to undermine those strands of the Baloch national movement which try to peacefully advocate for change towards democracy, respect for human rights and self-determination in the region.

Following the instructive speech of Christine Fair, the floor was given to T. Kumar, International Advocacy Director at Amnesty International USA, who stressed that in Balochistan, Pakistani security forces do not even try to conceal their ruthless strategy of terrorizing the Baloch population – a behaviour, that despite getting worse over the past few years, hardly gets any domestic or international attention. Enforced disappearances in particular are being carried out in broad daylight, creating a constant sense of fear among the local population.

The event also allowed for a fruitful exchange of views following the official programme, including remarks on the similarly deplorable situation of other minority groups in Pakistan, such as Sindh and Pashtun populations. An obvious conclusion to be drawn from the conference is that – while the event was a step forward to raise awareness of the Balochs’ plight – for the situation to change, the dialogue has to be kept alive and concerted efforts and swift action by all actors involved are urgently needed.

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event
WBO Protests Human Rights Violations in Balochistan in Geneva

WBO Protests Human Rights Violations in Balochistan in Geneva

On 17 September, World Baloch Organisation (WBO) organised a protest in front of the United Nations headquarters by the iconic Broken Chair to raise awareness for human rights violations in Balochistan. 

Human rights activists, Baloch representatives and allies of the Baloch cause came together during the 36th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council to protest the gross human rights violations inflicted upon the indigenous Baloch people. The protestors voiced their discontent of the general human rights situation in Balochistan and the amplification of these violations since the ruthless implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Since the construction of CPEC has begun, Baloch people have been forcefully cleared, enforcedly disappeared and effectively excluded from the project on all levels – despite plentiful promises made by the Pakistani authorities of development and employment. Any form of dissent against the project has been brutally silenced, showing the respective authorities dedication to go forth with the construction undisturbed.

Standing beside the significant Broken Chair Monument during the United Nations Human Rights Council, the protest successfully raised awareness for the rampant human rights violations in Balochistan and systemic marginalisation and oppression of the Baloch people.

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event
WBO Side-Event to the 36th Session of the UNHRC Highlights Systemic Economic Exploitation and Oppression of Balochistan

WBO Side-Event to the 36th Session of the UNHRC Highlights Systemic Economic Exploitation and Oppression of Balochistan

On 18 September 2017, The the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) convened a side-event to the 36th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Entitled “Scaling the Abyss: CPEC, Economic Exploitation and State Oppression in Balochistan”, the successful conference brought together high-level international speakers to discuss the rampant human rights violations and legacy of oppression and economic exploitation in Balochistan, amplified by the construction of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The conference was opened by Ms Nicoletta Enria, UNPO Project Officer, who reminded the participants of UNPO’s commitment to ending the enduring silence on Balochistan, especially due to the escalating human rights crisis taking place with the ruthless implementation of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Ms Enria also underlined how the crackdown on freedom of expression, compounded by the severely limited access to the region make obtaining reliable information on what takes in Balochistan, highlighting the increasing urgency of such events to raise awareness for the Baloch cause.

Mr Fernando Burges, UNPO Programme Manager, who moderated the event, took the floor to introduce the distinguished panel of speakers and their different areas of expertise regarding the matter at hand. Mr Burzine Waghmar of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) introduced the audience to the legacy of oppression at the hands of the Pakistani authorities, highlighting the difficulties faced by the indigenous Baloch people to make their plight heard. Mr Waghmar underlined how the CPEC project entails the colonisation of the region, significantly increasing foreign investments but completely shutting out the autochthonous population from any employment and development prospects the project may bring.

This was then followed by University of Cambridge’s Ms Mahvish Ahmad who opened her intervention with a touching account of the many Baloch friends she has lost over the years targeted for their nonviolent struggle for justice and equality. Moreover, Ms Ahmad reminded the participants of the vital role foreign powers have had in Pakistan’s violent campaign, shedding considerable light on the long history of British exploitation and US military and financial support in the region.  Ahmad also pointed out the pivotal support the United Kingdom still lends to Pakistan, such as advanced technology and military support, and the role it plays in the oppression of the indigenous Baloch people.

Mr Shah Jahan Baloch of the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) expanded on Ms Ahmad’s tribute to the loss of peaceful Baloch activists over the years, thanking her for her solidarity with the Baloch people. Mr Baloch outlined the extensive practices of the Pakistani authorities in executing the cultural, social and political genocide of the Baloch people. Furthermore, Mr Baloch brought to the participants attention that Balochistan is not just a plot of land that Pakistan may sell to China, and that no matter how much construction the renewed partnership of China and Pakistan plan in the region, it will not diminish the Baloch’s peaceful and democratic calls for their fundamental rights to be respected. This was then followed by some concluding remarks presented by Mr Mehran Baluch, Representative of Balochistan at the UNHRC and EU.

The side-event brought together high-level speakers who shared exchanged their diverse insights onto the Baloch cause, bringing forward a long-term campaign to raise awareness at the Human Rights Council, of the ill-treatment of the Baloch people – subjected to extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances, economic and social marginalisation and exploitation of the region’s plentiful natural resources. The event touched upon a variety of factors that actively marginalise and oppress the Baloch people, with a particular focus on the CPEC project looking closely at its brutal implementation and colonial significance. The distinguished panel of speakers and their enlightening contributions served as a stark reminder for the international community stand up for the Baloch people, helping to amplify their voice when theirs is systematically silenced.

Click here to see more photos of the event (Photos by Alexander Petrenko / alexstudio.ch).

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event
WBO Celebrates Balochi Culture in London Baloch Homecoming Festival

WBO Celebrates Balochi Culture in London Baloch Homecoming Festival

On 2 September 2017, The World Baloch Organisation (WBO) convened a large-scale cultural event, entitled the “Baloch Homecoming Festival: Cultures and Colours of Balochistan”. The event took place in the McNamara Suite of the London Irish Centre, and successfully brought together over 250 people of the UK Baloch diaspora to celebrate the rich and oft-forgotten Balochi culture on Eid Al-Adha. 

The festival was opened by Shah Jahan Baloch, representing the World Baloch Organisation, who welcomed the participants to the first of what will now be a series of Baloch Festivals in London. Mr Baloch went on to moderate the entire event in English, Balochi and Brahui. He handed over to Nicoletta Enria, UNPO Project Officer, whose opening remarks focussed on UNPO’s commitment in persuading the international community to take swift action in making sure the voice of the Baloch people is heard and their culture and heritage is recognised and protected. Ms Enria emphasised the significance of such a festival taking place in London, as the indigenous Baloch people are not able to celebrate their culture at home.

This was then followed by a musical performance by Mehroz Baloch, who sang popular Balochi national songs accompanied by Baloch children. Moreover, this was complemented by a poetry panel led by poet and literary expert Hassan Kosa. Mr Kosa was joined by renowned poets and authors of the Balochi language. Dr Naguman, Ismail Ameri, Dr Naseer Dashti and Sikandar Baloch formed the distinguished panel and emphatically recited their poetry and short stories, which focussed on Balochi culture, folk stories and the importance of safeguarding mother languages with increasing globalisation.

After an interval, the audience was greeted by Noordin Mengal of the WBO and UNPO Member representing Balochistan. Mr Mengal acknowledged the role of Baloch artists in the promotion of Balochi culture and language, faced with increasing challenges with the deteriorating human rights situation in Balochistan. Mr Mengal also underlined how despite suppressive regimes the Balochi culture has been growing, and it is solely due to the Baloch people’s commitment and love for their culture and identity – even when so far away from home.

This was then followed by the key musical performances of the evening, namely benjo musician Abdulrahman Surizehi, Rostam Mirlashari and his band Golbang followed by Akhtar Chanal Zahri. The music was accompanied by some traditional Baloch dances by some of the audience members. Akhtar Chanal Zahri and Rostam Mirlashari went on to also improvise and collaborate on a few songs towards the end of the evening. This was then followed by a dinner where the participants were given the chance to network and meet with other members of the Baloch diaspora community. The following day the artists convened at Map Recording Studios to celebrate the unique opportunity of them all being in London by recording a song, celebrating Balochi culture.

The successful event helped connect several members of the Baloch diaspora community and give them the rare opportunity to celebrate their culture away from home. The event was also significant in uniting younger generations of Baloch, born in the UK, with their language, culture and heritage and showing the international community a different aspect of Balochistan, namely a culture that dates back several centuries, and symbolises peace and justice.

For photos of the event please click here, courtesy of Dean Brannagan Photography

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event
The Baloch Homecoming Festival: Cultures and Colours of Balochistan

The Baloch Homecoming Festival: Cultures and Colours of Balochistan

On 2 September 2017 from 15:00- 20:30, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) in collaboration with the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) will organise an event entitled, “The Baloch Homecoming Festival: Cultures and Colours of Balochistan” at the McNamara Suite in the London Irish Centre. The event will celebrate Baloch culture, by having traditional musical performances, poetry recitings, history and food. In addition to this the event will aim to serve as a community building experience for the UK Baloch diaspora, along with giving the international community an insight into Balochistan’s rich history and culture.

Please click here to register by 29 August 2017

 

“The Baloch Homecoming Festival: Cultures and Colours of Balochistan”, will celebrate Baloch culture by having traditional musical performances, poetry, history, literature, food and more, thus effectively raising awareness of the long history and culture of Balochistan – often suppressed by respective authorities. The event will host singers such as the renowned Baloch singers: Akhtar Chanal Zahri and Rostam Mirlashari.

Balochistan, a region that spans across Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the cradle of some of the earliest civilisations. After several invasions and the arrival of the British, Balochistan has seen many social, religious, economic and political changes in the region. The Baloch language comes from an Indo-Iranian language of the Indo-European era, and modern Baloch shows borrowings from Persian, Arabic, Sindhi, and other languages. Baloch cultural heritage is known for its vibrant tradition of storytelling, and hold storytellers and poets alike in high regard. Music also plays an important role in Baloch culture, with the drum, the lute and the shepherd’s flute as their most common instruments. Falling on Eid al-Adha, this event will provide the opportunity for diaspora families to get together and rejoice away from home, and for all to come together and celebrate this occasion.

This cultural event, will raise awareness of a culture that embodies a peaceful struggle for justice. In the face of marginalisation of the Baloch indigenous peoples, this event will aim to exemplify that culture prevails amidst repression. We expect an enjoyable evening celebrating Baloch culture away from home, with lively, traditional musical performers along with Baloch poetry, history, and food.

A programme will be available soon.

For any eunquiries, please email Nicoletta Enria (n.enria@unpo.org)

Posted by WBO Media Team in Event