Pakistan: The villages of fisher folk are being grabbed by powerful persons from the ruling party Call for immediate arrest of the murderers of two activist fishermen and stop the land grabbing

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-024-2011

7 May 2011

[RE: PAKISTAN: The villages of fisher folk are being grabbed by powerful persons from the ruling party]


PAKISTAN: Call for immediate arrest of the murderers of two activist fishermen and stop the land grabbing

ISSUES: Human rights defenders; land grabbing; food security; impunity; rule of law


Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received updated information regarding two human rights leaders murdered on May 5 by notorious land mafia from the ruling party, Pakistan Peoples’ Party. The land mafia has been occupying the forest land threatening the right to life and food security of 350 families living in the fisher folk village since the early 1990s. The land mafia and their goons have been trying to illegally displace the villagers to occupy more land and to stop the villagers’ campaign and struggle. The AHRC has reported in the previous urgent appeal (AHRC-UAC-008-2011) that the forty armed persons led by the land mafia attacked the villagers on January 16, 2011. The AHRC has warned that the deceased activists had been seriously threatened at that time but the police and other government agencies failed to protect them. The villagers also have been threatened by the land mafia but the police rather tried to arrest the villagers whom the land mafia filed cases against. The two fisher folk activists who got killed by these land mafias had first tried to lodge a case against them about the attack that had happened in January. The corrupt police who would rather associate with influential politicians instead of respecting rule of law, have allowed the murder.

UPDATED INFORMATION:

On May 5, 2011, at night, land mafia goons led by Mr. Haji Younis and his son Zulfiqar Younis attacked the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFFF) office in Kaka pir village and murdered two leaders – Mr. Haji Abu Bakar, President of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Kaka village unit and Mr. Abdul Ganai Mirbahar, General Secretary of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Karachi Division.

Since attacked the PFFF office in the village on January 16, the land mafia goons have been continuously threatening the villagers and their campaign to protect their land and the forest along the coast. [photo 1: PFFF office occupied by land mafia, April 1, 2011]

At that time, police refused to register the complaint by the Haji Abu and Abdul Ganai on behalf of all villagers and instead accepted the fabricated cases against 18-25 villagers filed by the land mafia. Police attempted to arrest those villagers three to four times in February but women protested against the police whenever the police came. Those who got false charges including the deceased two activists managed to hide themselves but the women had to protect themselves and the village every day and night from the threat of land mafia as well as the police visits so far.

On the other hand, the land grabbing and the mangrove cutting in the forest area along the coast by land mafia, happened to the Kaka pir village since the early 1990s, causing serious food insecurity and water scarcity to the villagers. The main living sources were fishing and resources from the forest, but fish have been exterminated by garbage from the city, whereas the mangrove trees have been cut and sold out by the land mafia.

The land mafia even cut off drinking water resources since the conflict. The villagers have to buy five thousands gallon of water tanks from the city every day and women get water from the tank for drinking and cooking. [photo 2: women getting water from the tank]

The villagers hardly go for fishing and find it difficult to manage two meals a day. They tried to get fishing work from the government-run Fisherman Cooperative Society, which refused to give approval, and no government agency has come to listen to the villagers, particularly to the women who manage the food, water and health care. Only 10 women are beneficiaries of income support programs for the poor which provides 1,000 rupees (USD 11.8) per month. The cash subsidy is usually provided once three months and does not even come in time. As a result, many of the villagers take out loans for food and go for migrant work.

Illegal land grabbing by the local land mafia seriously threatens the food security of the fisher folk whereas the corrupt police even allowed the deaths of human rights defenders fighting for their food, land and forest. [photo 3: mangrove forest destroyed by land mafia]

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

The Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFFF) has been launching a campaign against the land mafia of Kaka Pir Village in particular and of the entire coast. They have written letters to the government authorities, held rallies and hunger strikes. On February 8, they held a march starting from Kaka pir village Kiamari.

During the march, SSP Kiamari and Ms. Shelha Raza, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, ensured that Station House Officer (SHO) Maripur would be suspended within three days; secondly, that action would be taken against Haji Younis and his son Zulifiqar Younis who is former Town Nazim Kiamari involved in land grabbing and registration of fake FIRs against PFFF Chairperson Mr. Muhammad Ali shah; and thirdly, that a firm action would be taken against other land grabbers involved in land filling.

Also, a meeting with Honorable Zulifiqar Mirza, Home Minister of Sindh, was held in which he formed a committee in supervision of Pakistan People’s Party leader Lal Bux Bhutto to inquire about the issue in detail and submit the report.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to authorities informing them that the land mafias have killed two human rights leaders of fisher folk who had struggled against their land grabbing and environmental demolition.

The AHRC will write a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and on the Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: Call for immediate arrest of the murderers of two activist fishermen and stop the land grabbing

Name of victim:

1. Mr. Haji Abu Bakar, son of Haroon, Kakkapir village, Maripur, Kemari twon, Karachi

2. Mr. Abdul Ghani, son of Muhammad Siddique, Kakkapir village, Maripur, Kemari twon, Karachi

Names of alleged perpetrators:

1. Mr. Haji Muhammad Younis, Former president of Pakistan Fishermen Cooperative Society,
Sandspit, Maripur, Kemari town, Karachi-PAKISTAN

2. Mr. Zulfiqar Younis, son of Haji Muhammad Younis, Former Town Nazim of Kemari Town,
Sandspit, Maripur, Kemari Town, Karachi-PAKISTAN

Relevant law enforcement agency: Maripur police station

Date of incident: May 5, 2011

Place of incident: Kakkapir village, Maripur, Kemari town, Karachi-PAKISTAN

I am writing to express my deep concern about two fisher folk activists - Mr. Haji Abu Bakar, President of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum (PFFF) Kaka village unit and Mr. Abdul Ganai Mirbahar, General Secretary of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Karachi Division - murdered by land mafia goons led by Mr. Haji Younis and his son Zulfiqar Younis on May 5, 2011. It was reported by the AHRC previous urgent appeal that the decreased two activists had been continuously threaten by land mafia since January when the land mafia attacked the villagers and occupied the office of Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum Kaka pir unit.

It was reported that the police rather associated with the land mafia who have political influence belonging to the ruling party, the Pakistan People’s Party. Despite of the appeal to the government authorities, the law enforcement agencies including the police failed to protect the activists as well as the villagers. I am of the opinion that lack of rule of law allows the land grabbing and the killings of human rights defenders, aggravating food and health insecurity of the poor fisher folk.

In January, police refused to register the complaint by the Haji Abu and Abdul Ganai on behalf of all villagers and instead accepted the fabricated cases against 18-25 villagers filed by the land mafia. Police attempted to arrest those villagers three to four times in February but women protested against the police whenever the police came. Those who got false charges including the deceased two activists managed to hide themselves but the women had to protect themselves and the village every day and night from the threat of land mafia as well as the police visits so far.

On the other hand, the land grabbing and the mangrove cutting in the forest area along the coast by land mafia, happened to the Kaka pir village since the early 1990s, causing serious food insecurity and water scarcity to the villagers. The main living sources were fishing and resources from the forest, but fish have been exterminated by garbage from the city, whereas the mangrove trees have been cut and sold out by the land mafia.

I am further informed that the land mafia even cut off drinking water resources since the conflict. The villagers have to buy five thousands gallon of water tanks from the city every day and women get water from the tank for drinking and cooking.

I have learned that the villagers hardly go for fishing and find it difficult to manage two meals a day. They tried to get fishing work from the government-run Fisherman Cooperative Society, which refused to give approval, and no government agency has come to listen to the villagers, particularly to the women who manage the food, water and health care. Only 10 women are beneficiaries of income support programs for the poor which provides 1,000 rupees (USD 11.8) per month. The cash subsidy is usually provided once three months and does not even come in time. As a result, many of the villagers take out loans for food and go for migrant work.

I am aware that the PFFF has been launching a campaign against the land mafia of Kaka Pir Village in particular and of the entire coast. They have written letters to the government authorities, held rallies and hunger strikes. On February 8, they held a march starting from Kaka pir village Kiamari.

It was reported that during the march, SSP Kiamari and Ms. Shelha Raza, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Assembly, ensured that Station House Officer (SHO) Maripur would be suspended within three days; secondly, that action would be taken against Haji Younis and his son Zulifiqar Younis who is former Town Nazim Kiamari involved in land grabbing and registration of fake FIRs against PFFF Chairperson Mr. Muhammad Ali shah; and thirdly, that a firm action would be taken against other land grabbers involved in land filling.

I am also aware that a meeting with Honorable Zulifiqar Mirza, Home Minister of Sindh, was held in which he formed a committee in supervision of Pakistan People’s Party leader Lal Bux Bhutto to inquire about the issue in detail and submit the report.

Despite, the government fails to respect and protect the fundamental rights of fisher folk such as right to life, food and land, which the Pakistan government guarantees in its Constitution and by ratifying the international human rights laws.

I am of the opinion that illegal land grabbing by the local land mafia seriously threatens the food security of the fisher folk whereas the corrupt police even allowed the deaths of human rights defenders fighting for their food, land and forest.

I, therefore, urge you to conduct immediate investigation and arrest the alleged perpetrators. Furthermore, I urge you to intervene into the overall situation of fisher folks to stop the land grabbing by land mafias and establish rule of law in Pakistan.

I look forward to your prompt response and action in this case.

Yours sincerely,


PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President’s Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary cabinet.gov.pk

3. Syed Qaim Ali Shah
Chief Minister
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 920 2000
E-mail: pppsindh yahoo.com

4. Mr. Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf yahoo.com

5. Mr. Muhammad Ayaz Soomro
Minister for Law, Parliamantry Affairs & Criminal Prosecution Service
Sindh Assembly Building,
Court road, Karachi, Sindh province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9211982
E-mail: secy.law sindh.gov.pk

6. Chief Justice of Sindh High Court
High Court Building
Saddar, Karachi
Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9213220
E-mail: info sindhhighcourt.gov.pk

7. Ms. Nadia Gabol
Minister for Human Rights
Government of Sindh,
Pakistan secretariat, Barrack 92,
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9207044
Tel: +92 21 9207043
E-mail: lukshmil yahoo.com

8. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail supremecourt.gov.pk

9. Inspector General of Police
Police Head office, I. I. Chundrigar road
Karachi, Sindh Province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 21 9212051
E-mail: ppo.sindh sindhpolice.gov.pk

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua ahrc.asia)

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