Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Free Baba Jan and the Hunza 5: climate prisoners

There will be a protest in Melbourne tomorrow at Bourke St Mall, at Swanston St, at 12:30-1:30PM, tomorrow Wednesday (27 June).

Baba Jan: climate protester imprisoned
A friend who was recently in Pakistan has organised this speakout protest for political prisoners in Pakistan. Baba Jan and 4 other activists have been imprisoned for the last eight months under anti-terrorism charges. It has been reported that they have been beaten and tortured. Yet their only crime was to speak out for compensation for farmer victims of a climate disaster.

The disaster was a landslide that blocked the narrow Hunza valley, when a mountainside collapsed and formed a new lake, flooding many villages. According to a contact from Friends of the Earth, after years of drought, people had built closer and closer to the rivers; then (like in Australia) the heavy rains came, and the rivers rose -- as well as the landslide occuring, in this mountainous region of the north of Pakistan.

There's an online letter of protest here. Well known figures like Tariq Ali (a Pakistani himself) and Noam Chomsky have signed on to this statement.

The case has drawn international attention, but mainly from the Left (Baba Jan is from the leftist Labour Party of Pakistan). Climate activists ought to be paying attention too. The effects of climate change will see many more such natural disasters provoking displacement and conflict. We have to give our solidarity to the victims of these disasters.

The latest I heard today is that Baba Jan has been promised (but not yet granted) bail. The charges against him and the other prisoners have not been withdrawn, so tomorrow's protest in Melbourne will still go ahead. If you have time, please sign the petition here.

More background:


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