Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pakistan Army’s Repression of the Punjab Farmers’ Movement

I was reading HRW report on Pakistan Rangers abusive attitude and torture of farmers there. It is really sad to note that our so-called mohafiz are doing this to our men and women. Excerpts from the report are produced below. Detailed reading may be done here.

From the report:

'Torture, beatings, kidnappings, and arbitrary arrests of tenant farmers and their families became increasingly commonplace between May 11, 2003 and June 12, 2003, when the Rangers mounted its second siege on parts of Okara district. While the abuses are ongoing, most of the violations identified in this report are from the period of the siege. '

Further a case of Bashir Ahmed is presented:

Bashir Ahmed

'On January 7, 2002, Colonel Mohammad Ali, the commanding officer at Renala Estate Military Farm, personally led a contingent of some thirty to forty armed men on a mission to confiscate land cultivated by the elderly farmer Mohammad Ali Kumboh, resident of Village 21/1-RB. According to witnesses, fewer than ten of the armed men were serving army soldiers and the rest were private thugs. Two farm employees told Human Rights Watch that it was common knowledge that Colonel Mohammad Ali personally ordered the confiscation “at any cost” as he viewed the Kumboh land as a test case that would set the right precedent in the village: Kumboh had refused to sign the new contract.

'Initially, Kumboh’s family alone—Kumboh, his brother Aslam, Aslam’s wife Aziza Begum, and their twenty-one-year-old son Ejaz—offered resistance. Kumboh, Aslam, and Ejaz were beaten, overpowered, and tied up by Colonel Ali and his contingent. Colonel Ali and his armed group then apparently set the family dairy and the grain depot on fire. At this point, Aslam’s three teenage daughters, Zahida, Shahida, and Nazia, emerged from the house armed with sticks and tried to free their family. The women were severely beaten by Colonel Ali’s men, who also began firing in the air.

'It was the fires, the gunshots, and the screams of the women that finally attracted the attention of the rest of the village. Nadeem Ashraf described the scene to Human Rights Watch:

'We heard firing and went to see. Bashir, who lived in the neighboring village also came with us. The women from the village came armed with sticks as did the men. We went and untied Ejaz. In the rush, I heard Colonel Ali shout the order to start firing. Instead of firing in the air, the army officers then started firing at us. Ejaz, Bashir Sidiq, and Hameed sustained bullet wounds. The colonel’s men then retreated while firing in the air.22

'Bashir Ahmed died on January 9, 2002, two days after the attack. He was twenty-one years old'.

More cases may be read here.

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