Following is the complete text of speech delivered by Hyarbyar Marri, at a public meeting, on May 5th, 2009, Tuesday evening held at the House of Lords. The public meeting was organised by his lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy and attended by human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce and human rights campaigner Peter Tetchell and many others.
Balochistan conflict and the international Community’s response
The Baluch: invisible victims of war on terror
Is Balochistan really invisible to the international community?
I would like to thank Estella for organising this very important meeting to address the grievances of Baluchistan and the systematic suffering of the Baluch at home and abroad.
Secondly, I would like to thank my and Faiz’s legal teams who made it possible with their efforts and determination for us to be here.
Balochistan has been the site of an intense struggle for Independence against Pakistan. Despite the Baloch land being rich in natural resources, the Baloch remain economically marginalised and receive little benefit from development in Balochistan. In its efforts to counter the Baloch struggle, Pakistan has employed summary executions, disappearances, torture and indiscriminate bombing and artillery attack.
Baluchistan’s history of struggle
We the Baloch have a long history of struggle against impositions by the Pakistani state. Our history, however, pre-dates the formation of Pakistan. We have a history reaching back thousands of years. In the 12th century, Mir Jalal Khan united 44 Baloch tribes; in the 15th century the Confederation of Rind Lashari was established and the Khanate of Balochistan in the 17 th century.
During the British Raj, Britain annexed a strip of land adjoining Afghanistan and named it “British Balochistan”, but beyond that did not interfere in the affairs of Balochistan so long as the Baloch allowed the British Army access to Afghanistan. The Baloch campaigned for independence during the final decades of the British Raj but were forcefully annexed by Pakistan in 1947. The struggle for Independence and the forced annexation continues till this day.
Since the occupation of Baloch land Pakistan has come into open conflict with the Baloch on four occasions — 1948, 1958, 1962, and, the bloodiest war against Baloch Nation was carried out, from 1973 to 1977, when a growing guerrilla movement led to an armed conflict that ravaged the region.
Three days before Pakistan’s secession from India Balochistan had already declared their Independence. On 11 th August 1947 the Khan of Kalat formally declared Balochistan’s independence and formed the House of Commons and Houses of Lords. On 16 th December 1947 Khan of kalat called a meeting of both the houses of Balochistan to discuss the possibility of joining Pakistan. All the members from both Houses had unanimously rejected the idea of joining Pakistan. By that time Pakistan had already recognised Balochistan as an independent state.
On 27 th March, 1948, the Pakistani army invaded Baluchistan, the Khan and his family members were made hostages in his palaces. His brother, Prince Abdul Karim Khan, continued to resist with around 700 men. To crush this movement the Pakistan army expanded the invasion and The Khan of Kalat was arrested and large-scale arrests were carried out.
Nawab Nauroz Khan led a resistance of 1000 Baloch freedom fighters that fought the army in pitched battles for over a year. In May 1959 Nauroz Khan was asked to come down from the mountains so that a peaceful way can be found out but as soon as Nawab Nauroz Khan came down he was arrested along with his companions and they all were put behind bars. Nawab Nauroz Khan died in prison in 1964, becoming a symbol of Baloch resistance. Five of his relatives, including his son, were hanged. This was the first example of Pakistan’s dishonesty and betrayal to Balcoh Nation. The struggle for Independent Balochistan continued even after the death of Nawab Nauroz Khan.
In 1973 President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited Iran, where the Shah of Iran warned him against allowing Baloch people more political rights. The shah was worried that the Baloch people in Iranian occupied Balochistan might ask for more rights as well. He gave a package of 700 million dollar to Bhutto and assured him more support if needed. After Bhutto had returned from Iran he dismissed the elected government of Balochistan. The provincial government had been seeking greater control in areas of development and industrialisation. The pretext used for dismissal was that a cache of weapons had been discovered in the Iraqi attaché’s house in Islamabad and were supposedly destined for Balochistan.
The Pakistani army started an operation in Balochistan with 78,000 troops supported by Iranian Cobra helicopters and were resisted by some 50,000 patriot Baloch. The conflict took the lives of 3400 Pakistani troops, 5300 Baloch freedom fighters and thousands of civilians.
The current insurgency
Baloch struggle against the forced annexation of their land has continued during all this period and the struggle for Independence is still going on. It however intensified after the former dictator Musharraf declared a war against the Baloch Nation since he came to power through a military coup.
In January 2000 a Marri Baloch judge was killed by Pakistan’s notorious agencies (ISI) and the blame was laid on my family. I and three of my brothers were in London when the judge was killed but I was however implicated as one the alleged killers of the judge. Everybody in Balochistan knew why cases were being brought against us because we were not allowing the exploration of oil and gas in Balochistan. In the FIR it was alleged that my father was driving and all of us the brothers were sitting next to him at the time when judge was gunned down in Quetta Balochistan. My father was later arrested and imprisoned under this pretext. This case was heard in a speedy court, but after ten years that court has not given any decision.
Apart from my father’s arrest around 250 -300 other Baloch were arrested, imprisoned and tortured severely under the same pretext. The ordeal of those Baloch we have explained in our trial but in brief they were humiliated, tortured, deprived of sleep and many have suffered long term psychological scars that will never heel. Some of them have later died due to severe torture they had faced in the prison and some have become completely paralysed. This was however just the beginning. The worst was yet to come.
On the night of 2 January 2005, three Pakistani army captains (one of them was named as captain Hammad) attacked and raped Dr. Shazia Khalid a lady doctor employed at PPL Company in Sui town in Balochistan; she was severely injured on resistance and left tied up with telephone cords. She was threatened with dire consequences if she raised an alarm or spoke to media about what had happened to her.
The Baloch people in Dera Bugti and in Baluchistan began a revolt after an army captain who had powerful family connections within the military, has never been tried in any court of law. Nor is he likely to ever face justice, after the then army general dictator Musharraf publicly declared he thought that the captain was innocent. The Baloch leader, Nawab Bugti insisted that the suspected rapist be tried according to Baluchistan’s legal and judicial system.
In Balochistan women and guest in particular are treated with high respect (in case of Dr Khalid she was a guest in Balochistan). That is why this incident of lady doctor’s rape further infuriated the Baloch people. They took to streets and protest against the shameless act of Pakistani army. The response from the army and FC was brutal; they fired upon peaceful protesters and arrested several man and women. After seeing their women being insulted, humiliated and tortured by the brutal Pakistani army many Baluch have taken up arms in self-defence to defend their children, women and the village from destructions by the Pakistani army.
On Pakistan TV on 10 th January 2005, the army general and self-proclaimed President, Pervez Musharraf told the Baloch nationalists: “Don’t push us … it is not the 1970s, and this time you won’t even know what has hit you.”
On 17th March 2005, Pakistan’s Paramilitary Forces, Started Shelling the town of Dera Bugti, more than 60 Civilians were killed in this indiscriminate Bombardment, a Hindu temple also came under attack by Pakistan fighter jets and gunship helicopter, 32 Hindu Baloch worshipers including women and children were killed inside the temple. Nawab Bugti’s guesthouse was also hit where he was present at the time.
Pakistani army’s controlled Electronic and print media denied this incident, which was caused by their own Army and security forces. Infect Pakistani Media have always ignored the death and destruction of Baloch Nation. We have video footage of this attack which we have shown in the United Nations for the world to see.
In late 2005-early 2006 the Pakistan military laid siege to Dera Bugti, attacking with artillery and air strikes. Many civilians were killed and 85% of the 25,000-strong population fled. The town of Kohlu also came under siege from Pakistan forces around the same time, virtually imprisoning the 12,000 inhabitants.
As well as the military attacks, the Frontier Corps (FC) has been responsible for indiscriminate rocket, artillery and helicopter gunship attacks on civilian areas. There has been widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools and houses, particularly in Dera Bugti and Sui districts. Military operations occur throughout Balochistan.
On 15 December 2005, Musharraf visited Kohlu (Marri agency) to inaugurate a military garrison during his visit some rockets were fired into Kohlu town. No one was hurt – but the response by musharraf was intense, catastrophic and disproportionate.
On 17th December 2005 Pakistani Army launched an army operation against innocent Baloch people throughout Kohlu District, Parts of Dera Bugti, Noshki, Makran Districts and other parts of Balochistan.
More than thirty thousand army personnel twelve Gunship helicopters, four fighter jets, several spy planes of different sizes, heavy artillery and missiles were used only in Talli, Bambore, Kahan, Jabbar, Nasau, Quat, Mundai and other parts of Marri Bugti areas.
During ten days of intensive bombing and shelling by army Jets, Gunship Helicopters and heavy artillery at least 186 confirm deaths and more than 320 serious wounded were reported. Mostly victims were women and children. Such acts continued thought out 2005, 2006 and until early 2007. There were hardly a day which passed without any bombardment and shelling. Cluster and phosphorus bombs were used against Baloch civilians.
International Crisis Group reported that since then, tens of thousands of people have been displaced. From December 2005 onwards, at least 84,000 people, mostly from the Marri and Bugti tribes, were displaced in the districts of Dera Bugti and Kohlu alone. According to a humanitarian assessment in July and August 2006, the displaced people, including 26,000 women and 33,000 children, were living in makeshift camps without adequate shelter in Jafarabad, Naseerabad, Quetta, Sibi and Bolan districts. 28 per cent of children under five were acutely malnourished, and six per cent faced severe acute malnourishment and their survival depended on immediate medical attention. Over 80 per cent of the deaths among those surveyed were of children under five.
Aid agencies were repeatedly denied access to the displaced, although supplies of food and medicines lay in warehouses in the provincial capital Quetta. Local officials helped the agencies monitor conditions, but more senior provincial and federal officials refused humanitarian requests or blocked them with bureaucratic hurdles.
In June 2007 the news line reported that “In December 2006, under pressure from foreign governments and humanitarian agencies, the government finally allowed the UN to deliver a $1 million aid package to IDPs in Balochistan. The UN was allowed to set up 57 feeding centres there on strict conditions, for example that no UN official would communicate with the press. A few days later, however, the UN’s permission to assist the IDPs was revoked. The head of the local NGO Edhi Foundation was also told not to deliver any aid to the Baloch IDPs. Meanwhile, fear of army reprisals prevented locals from aiding the displaced”. Thousands of Baloch still remain displaced and are living in miserable conditions. Displaced families are still living without clean drinking water or medicine. Women had died of childbirth and dozens of children had died due to malnutrition and diseases such as typhoid and hepatitis.
It was these indiscriminate, brutal and criminal attacks of Pakistan Army which forced Nawab Bugti to leave his home town Dera bugti and head toward mountains. Pakistan army did not even spare him in the mountains and followed him to the neighbouring Marri hills.
On 26 th August 2006, Nawab Bugti and around 40 of his companions were killed in a military offensive. Pakistani media reported that several companions of Nawab Bugti were captured alive in same offensive. However their corpses were never recovered neither were those who were captured alive return home since their arrest on 26 th August 2006. We appeal that these captured Baloch man should be treated in accordance with Geneva convention as prisoners of War. Even though the army buried a coffin with big padlocks attached to it, claiming that it was Nawab Bugti’s coffin. No one has confirmed that it was Nawab Bugti’s body in that coffin. Even his own sons and other family members were not allowed to see his body. Thus it is believed that the army conceal his body to hide their crimes against humanity and to hide the weapons they used against the 80 year old Baloch leader. The captured Baloch will never return home alive because they are the only eye-witness as to how and in what conditions Nawab Bugti was killed and what sort of weapons were used against them.
Situations got even worse after Nawab’s death. Fighting erupted everywhere in Balochistan; the army intensified and expanded genocide all over Balochistan. The Baluch were pushed over the edge they had no other options left but to fight back to defend their families from the fascist Pakistani army. In response Pakistani Army started to abduct Baloch students, teachers, poets, social workers, farmers, shepherds, tribal elders and political activists including women. By mid 2006 Baloch families reported that thousands of their loved one were missing.
Pakistan’s then interior minister Mr Sherpao during his tour to district Turbat had also admitted that army had arrested 6000 Baloch political activists in Balochistan. The extra judicial abductions and killings went unnoticed as their families were threatened with dire consequences if they spoke to Media. In any event national and international media was not allowed access to Balochistan.
0n 20 th November 2007, my brother Balach Marri was murdered by Pakistan’s army in Balochistan. That gave Musharraf the opportunity to put more pressure on the British government to arrest me. As he had got rid of my brother and now he was after me. Mr Brown’s government succumbed to Musharraf’s pressure and they arrested me to appease him.
The jury which comprised people from different walks of life have understood the gravity of our problem and recognised our struggle for Independence. I sincerely thank the jury who have acquitted me of the terrorism charges. However I was appalled to find out that I was being prosecuted only because of my political stand. I was being prosecuted only because I am opposed to the exploitation of Baloch wealth and I am against the atrocities that the Pakistani army is committing against my Nation. I was being prosecuted because I asked my Nation to stand up for what is theirs. I was being prosecuted because I am a supporter of Independent Balochistan. “Freedom is the right of every Nation and asking for freedom should not be a crime”.
After the elections in 2008 the PPP’s so called democratic government came to power but Baluchistan’s situations almost remain same. Even though the newly elected president of Pakistan Mr Zardari talks of reconciliations but he has failed to withdraw the military from Balochistan. He has failed to stop the military operation in Balochistan and he has failed to produce the missing person in any court of law. Pakistan is run by the army and the Intelligence agencies. Every elected government has to be sub-servant to the military and the ISI. That is why zardari has no power to stop the Intelligence agencies and the military from committing atrocities in Balochistan.
Currently thousands of Baloch are missing including 141 women; some reports suggest that kidnapped Baloch female are being used as sex-slave by the Pakistani army. Pakistani agencies have started a crackdown against Baloch students and political parties and several of their activists have been arrested and detained for crimes they did not commit.
Six Bugti Baloch who had gone missing in 2008, their bodies were found in mountains of Noskhi and chaman in February 2009. According doctor’s report the bodies of the victims’ bare signs of tortured and their heads were ripped-off it seemed that nails were inserted into their heads.
In March 2009 two Baloch men were killed in cold blood in Mach town in Balochistan by Pakistani security forces. No inquiry took place into their murder. Their relatives have protested and try to register a case but the police refused to co-operate. Another daunting example is the burning alive of three Bugti Baloch men in barrels of hot tarmac.
On 3 rd April 2009 three Baloch political leaders namely Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Sher Mohammed Baloch and Lala Munir Baloch were abducted at gunpoint from their lawyers’ office in Turbat town by the agencies. On 8 th April 2009, they were murdered in cold blood and their bodies were found some 12 miles from Turbat town in a deserted area. According the eye-witnesses their bodies bare signs of torture and they were shot in heads.
Their lawyers’ are the eye-witness to their abduction. They submitted petitions to the courts. Their petitions were turned-down. Instead their lawyers’ and other eye-witnesses are receiving death threats from the pakistan’s intelligence agencies over the phone. They have been threatened not to discuss the matter with media and other people, else they will face the same fate as their clients.
One of the slain leaders Ghulam Mohammad Baloch was the president of Baloch National Movement (a political party in Balochistan) and a member of Baloch Qaumdost committee which was constituted by me to work for the release of UNHCR head of Balochistan chapter Mr john Solecki. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies did not want Mr Solecki to go back to his country alive. They tried their best to provoke those holding john to harm him but they failed. After john was released unharmed, it did not please the agencies I believe that is why they abducted the Baloch political leaders and killed them in cold blood.
On 25 th and 26 th April 2009, Pakistani army has killed several innocent Baloch including women and children in Dera bugti’s Marav area. Local sources reported that all the killed people were unarmed civilians. They were busy harvesting when they came under attack from Pakistan’s army gunship helicopters.
The slow motion genocide and massacre of Baloch people is taking place right under the nose of International community but the so called champions of human rights and International law makers remained silent on the death and destruction of my nation. Musharraf and his army generals had committed war crimes in Balochistan. They should be arrested and tried in the international criminal court, as its common knowledge these Pakistani army generals come to stay in the UK and United states after their retirement. Although they have committed crime against humanity, they are protected in western democracies. It is very unfortunate that UK being one the most democratic countries have arrested and put us behind bars to silent our voice forever. Our arrest was no co-incident but it was the result of Musharraf’s pressure on Mr Brown’s government, it was the result of the collusion between the UK and Pakistani agencies. They arrested us only to please Musharraf and the Pakistani army.
Today my main plea is that the international community must recognise our legitimate struggle against the illegitimate occupation of our land. Our struggle is for Independence and restoration of our sovereignty only. We are not trying to break or make Pakistan. Our struggle is not a movement of separation but it is against the occupation of our Independent state which was occupied at gunpoint by Pakistan in 1948.
Our language, culture, identity and existence are at the brink of extinction and we are struggling for our survival. We need the International community’s moral support. We need international intervention in Balochistan. International community must act now and help us to end the occupation of our land.