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Account of the Public Meeting in Naseerabad Hindi, Hunza valley

July 23, 2012

Yesterday, the Progressive Youth Front (PYF) sent out a call for a protest meeting in Naseerabad Hindi in Hunza Valley. The PYF membership was outraged by the three days physical remand of Baba Jan and Iftikhar Hussain, awarded to the Joint Investigation Team, amid concerns that the detainees might be tortured or even killed in custody.

The programme was to have a protest meeting for an hour. The PYF members were expecting a gathering of 50 to 100 people at most, given the level of terror spread by the state in the wake of Aliabad killings. But it seems that the people have finally had enough of being paralysed by fear.

Early this morning, 23-Jul-2012, around 6 AM, people started gathering. People of all ages, political and religious beliefs, men and women – in fact, significantly more women than men. Emotional scenes were witnessed as speakers would break down in tears, overwhelmed by their sadness and their outrage. Elders of the community, 70, 80 years old, expressed their frustration with the inability of the state to provide justice in such a simple matter and, along with many other speakers, complained to the PYF members that they had waited too long to organise such a meeting! Indeed, the massive participation in the meeting, more than a thousand people, proved that the paralysis induced by state terrorism had been broken.

During the meeting, a consensus evolved. The people want justice done and they are going to take matters into their own hands now:

–          the government has three days to drop all charges against the Hunza Five and release them all

–          if this demand is not met, people from all the villages of Hunza Valley will launch a Long March on state institutions and observe dharna / sit-in until their demands are met

The Free Baba Jan campaign is overjoyed to hear this news. Meeting in Lahore today, members of the Labour Party finalised plans for rally in Islamabad to express solidarity with our friends in Gilgit-Baltistan.

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