lördag 6 december 2008

Baloch royal leader seeks asylum

Baloch royal leader seeks asylum

Peter Tatchell

Khan of Kalat appeals this FridayLondon - 27 November 2008His Highness Beglar Begi, Suleman Khan Ahmedzai, the Khan of Kalat, aged 45, will appeal for asylum in the UK this Friday, 28 November, at a tribunal in Newport, Wales.Regarded by many Baloch people as their monarch and head of state, he was refused asylum in October 2007.Fridays appeal hearing will take place at 10am at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Newport, Columbus House, Chepstow Road, Langstone, Newport , NP18 2LX (0845 600 0877). Suleman Ahmedzai is head of the royal household and a national leader in Balochistan, where Pakistan is waging a war against the Baloch people - a war that has been condemned for its widespread human rights abuses by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (see the links to human rights reports below). In June 2007, he sought sanctuary in the UK, fearing arrest and murder, following the killing of another Baloch national leader, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, by Pakistani forces during bombing raids in 2006. Bugti was former Pakistani Minister of Defence, and former Governor and Chief Minister of Balochistan.Suleman Ahmedzai's fears are well founded. A fellow nationalist leader, Balaach Marri, was murdered by Pakistani government agents in November 2007. His asylum appeal is supported by human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell:"The Khan is is seen by many Baloch people as their head of state. His treatment by the British government has been squalid and disrespectful," said Mr Tatchell."Suleman Ahmedzai is the direct descendant of the Khan of Kalat, the monarch of the state of Kalat, who signed a Treaty with the British government in 1876, making what is now Balochistan a British Protectorate. "His grandfather was head of state when Balochistan secured its brief period of independence in 1947, before it was invaded and annexed by Pakistan in 1948. He attended the Queen's coronation in 1953, with other world leaders, as the honoured guest of the British government."Refusing Suleman Ahmedzai asylum is symptomatic of a pattern of harassment of Baloch refugees by the UK authorities. "Pakistan's military and intelligence services have threatened to end all cooperation with the UK unless our government cracks down on Baloch dissidents exiled here. This may be part of the reason why Suleman Ahmedzai has had such difficulty in gaining asylum. "The government wants to appease the Pakistanis, in order to secure their continuing cooperation in the 'war on terror'. It is embarrassed by the Khan's presence in the UK and is trying to make things difficult for him. "The UK government aided and abetted the illegal dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf, selling him military equipment used to prosecute Pakistan's illegal war in Balochistan - a war that has involved the perpetration of war crimes and crimes against humanity. "Under threat of arrest and imprisonment, in 1948 Suleman Ahmedzai's grandfather signed the treaty of accession which surrendered the independence of the Kalat state (Balochistan) and incorporated it into Pakistan. Both houses of the Kalat parliament - and Baloch public opinion - opposed the incorporation. The Baloch people have always been refused a vote on self-rule by successive Pakistani regimes. Ever since, for 60 years, Balochistan has been under military occupation and its people crushed by five bloody wars launched by Islamabad," said Mr Tatchell. Further information contact:The Khan of Kalat, Suleman Ahmedzai - 0786 4033 185Peter Tatchell - 020 7403 1790*********************************************Briefings on Pakistan's human rights abuses in BalochistanHuman Rights Commission of Pakistan http://www.hrcp-web.org/balochistan_mission.cfm and http://www.hrcp-web.org/images/publication/balochistan%20report/pdf/balochistan_report.pdf Asian Human Rights Commissionhttp://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2006statements/708International Crisis Groupwww.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=4373 Amnesty Internationalhttp://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA330042006 Carnegie Endowment for International Peacehttp://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=17865&prog=zgp&proj=zsa&zoom_highlight=BaluchistanHuman Rights Watchhttp://hrw.org/wr2k8/pdfs/pakistan.pdf Watch this TV interview by Peter Tatchell with Mehran Baluch, the Baloch representative to the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.veoh.com/videos/v15574249Ka8gKRt6*************************************Letter to PM Gordon BrownExcerpts from a letter to Prime Minister Gordon Brown from the Khan of Kalat and other Baloch representatives, dated 30 March 2008:"In accordance to clauses of the 1876 treaty between the Kalat State (Balochistan) and the British Empire, the independence of Kalat was announced by the then ruler of Kalat, Mir Ahmad Yar Khan, in 1947, prior to the creation of Pakistan. "After the partition of India and the creation of the religious state of Pakistan, the newly-independent Baloch state came under tremendous pressure both from Pakistan and the colonial authorities in India for a merger of the Kalat with Pakistan. "However, both the Houses of Parliament of Kalat (House of Commons and House of Lords) unanimously voted not to join Pakistan and resolved to retain its independence. Ultimately, when the Pakistani government could not bend the Baloch will to remain independent by sabre rattling, the Pakistan army invaded the Kalat State to get the merger statement from the Khan of Kalat at gun point...."The people of Balochistan have never accepted the illegal occupation of their country by the religious state of Pakistan which is dominated by the Punjabi nationality, and they have waged a genuine democratic national resistance. Since its annexation, except for a few brief periods, Balochistan has been under military occupation and siege. The natural resources of the Baloch people have been looted criminally...The Balochi language and culture have been suppressed in colonial style."Pakistan's military-dominated establishment...have committed gross atrocities and serious war crimes against the Baloch population. A ruthless military operation has been going on in Balochistan since last five years....(which) has resulted in the loss of life for thousands of the Baloch people, including children, women and elderly, and has resulted in displacement of hundreds and thousands of civilian Baloch population. The national leaders of Balochistan have been in prison without trial, humiliated and target killed by Pakistani civil and military authorities. Thousands of political activists have been kidnapped, tortured and killed......"We genuinely believe that it is the moral duty of Great Britain to assist the Baloch people in ending the illegal occupation of their country, as per the treaty of 1876 between the Great Britain and the State of Kalat (Balochistan)."************************************Baloch to go to any lengths for rights: Khan of KalatDawn newspaper, Pakistan, 8 November 2004Dawn is Pakistan's leading daily newspaperhttp://www.dawn.com/2004/11/08/top2.htmThe thrust of the Khan's arguments was on the unique position Kalat enjoyed in August 1947 when the British left the subcontinent. Unlike the hundreds of other princely states in British India, he said, Nepal and Kalat occupied an entirely different position. Kalat had the right to have diplomatic relations with other countries, and the British paid "taxes" to Kalat, while in the case of the princely states the situation was the other way around. Between August 1947, when the British left the subcontinent, and March 1948, Kalat was an independent country. Unlike Pakistan, which became independent on August 14, 1947, Kalat became independent six days earlier - on Aug 8. It acceded to Pakistan on March 27, 1948, after the Khan of Kalat, His Highness Baglar Begi - the present Khan's grandfather - signed an agreement with the Quaid-i-Azam. According to the terms of the agreement, the centre was to control only four subjects: defence, foreign affairs, communications and currency. In all other matters, Kalat was to be completely independent. (As an aside, he pointed out, Kalat was the only area in Pakistan where there was still a Qazi court. This was to point out the continuity in Kalat's political tradition.) However, subsequent governments did not abide by the terms of the agreement of accession. Makran, Kharan and Bela were part of Kalat, but later they were given separate status when during the time of Governor-General Ghulam Mohammad a Balochistan States' Union was created. Balochistan then constituted 62 per cent of (West) Pakistan. Later, parts of the province were given to the NWFP, Punjab, and Sindh. But even now it constitutes 46 per cent of Pakistan. ENDS
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