PAKISTAN: Sindh government provides protection to the killers of the Fisherfolk Forum activists instead of the victims and their families
The activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and members of civil society was brutally baton charged and manhandled by the police in front of the Provincial Assembly building. Twelve protestors were injured including four women and eight men. The Forum had already informed the authorities some four days before that they would hold a sit-in outside the assembly in protest of the killing of their two activists.
The protestors were demanding the arrest of the killers of two activists of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) who were killed after their abduction by the two local leaders of the ruling party, the Pakistan Peoples' Party, and their henchmen. Before their abduction the henchmen of the land grabbers of the ruling party attacked the Kakka village, Karachi, warning the villagers to vacate the land otherwise they would be forcibly displaced. The village is centuries old and was registered by the then British government. The land has become prime land because of the development in the area. The perpetrators have already grabbed vast area of the seashore by cutting the mangroves and building illegal structures.
A good number of women also joined the protest who came from different cities of Sindh, including Karachi, Thatta, Badin, Sanghar, Dadu, Jamshoro, Hyderabad, Matiari etc. They gathered outside the Karachi Press Club and chanted slogans against the government and police for their failure to arrest the killers and demanded that the authorities bring the suspects to justice. The protesters then decided to march towards the Chief Minister's House to stage a sit-in but the policemen deployed a roadblock effectively blocking the artery leading to the Chief Minister's House and baton-charged the protesters. They fired tear gas shells in order to disperse the crowd but the PFF activists continued to protest.
The apathy of the situation is that the police refuse to file a First Information Report (FIR) even 14 days after the incident on the instructions of some powerful persons from the ruling party -- a total disrespect of the law by the very authorities responsible for maintaining the rule of the law.
The irony is that no other political party or member of the assembly joined the fisher folk's protest rally or condemned the killing of the two activists. The land grabbing at the coastal areas has never been criticised by the political parties of the government or the opposition.
It is regrettable that the Sindh provincial authorities are providing impunity to the perpetrators by not ordering the police to file a murder case against the attackers. The murder of the activists took place 14 days ago yet no FIR has been filed. It is quite evident that the ruling party and government are either involved in such crimes or are happy to turn a blind eye to them.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government to arrest the killers of the PFF activists and prosecute the station house officer (SHO) of the Mauripur police station, Karachi for not observing the law by refusing to file FIR. The police have a legal and moral duty to protect the victims and their families and not the very perpetrators of the violence.