Tatchell, Zurutuza get Nawab Bugti award Sunday
Two European journalists Peter Tatchell of The Guardian and Karlos Zurutuza of the Gara newspaper will receive the DC-based American Friends of Baluchistan's Shaheed Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti Reporting Award for their objective news coverage of the liberation struggle in Baluchistan on Sunday.
Peter Tatchell and Karlos Zurutuza took great personal risks to to tell the true story of Baluchistan's occupation and the heroic struggle waged by the Baluch people to end Pakistan and Iran's neocolonial rule.
Baluch national hero Nawabzada Hyrbyair Marri will preside over the event.
The award presentation ceremony will be held at The Bloomsbury Suite [Second floor] of the University of London Union.
The event is open to journalists, human rights activists and all those interested in knowing more about the Baluch struggle to regain their inalienable right to independence.
The address is Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY. The time of the event is 4:00 pm - 6:30pm.
Sample of Peter Tatchel's work published in The Guardian of August 29, 2008:
PAKISTAN BURNS PRISONERS ALIVE
Despite the election of a democratic government in Islamabad, Pakistan continues to abuse human rights in Balochistan
Four Baloch prisoners have been burned alive in hot coal tar by the Pakistan army during military operations in annexed and occupied Balochistan, according to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).
Last week the AHRC received confirmation that Pakistani soldiers arrested four people on April 5 2008, in the Dera Bugti district of Balochistan, and subjected them to torture. They were asked to identify local supporters of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). After failing to get any names from them, the victims were immersed in scolding hot coal tar. Three of the men were literally boiled and burned to death. A fourth died later from his injuries.
Villagers in the area also claim the Pakistan army used a form of chemical gas against them and that some of the gassed survivors were later shot. Their bodies have not been handed over to relatives for burial.
These and many other crimes against humanity are still happening in Balochistan, despite the resignation of the dictator President, Pervez Musharraf, and despite Pakistan's ostensible transition to democratic government.
During July and August, over 100 Baloch persons were killed, 250 disappeared and more than 20,000 were displaced. They are victims of intensified military operations by the Pakistan army, which has occupied Balochistan since invading in 1948 and forcibly incorporating it into Pakistan.
Cobra attack helicopters that were provided (pdf) by the US to help defeat the Taliban and al-Qaida are instead being used to crush the Baloch people.
On May 1 this year, the new democratically elected prime minister of Pakistan, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, publicly apologised for the persecution of the Baloch people and pledged to halt military assaults in Balochistan:
It has been decided that no army action will be carried out in the province (of Balochistan) until a strategy is formulated in consultation with representatives of the provincial government to deal with the issue of law and order in the province.
Contradicting these assurances, Pakistan's war of aggression seems to be intensifying. The Daily Jang newspaper reported on August 21 that the armed forces of Pakistan had deployed more troops in the region, killing innocent civilians in repeated aerial bombardments.
Pakistan's minister of the interior visited the area on August 20 and announced that military operations would continue if Baloch nationalists and freedom fighters continued to be supported and protected by the people. The same newspaper also reported on August 24, that military operations have been expanded to new areas in Balochistan.
Over the last few years of Pakistani attacks on Balochistan, the AHRC reports that about 3,000 people have died, around 200,000 have been displaced, and more than 4,000 people have been arrested by the police, army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
The AHRC is organising an urgent action appeal to the government of Pakistan, calling on it to investigate the killing of civilians and to halt military operations in Balochistan.
You can email your own, personalised appeal, direct to the Pakistani prime minister, Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, at email@example.com
Sample of Karlos Zurutuza work published in in the Gara newpaper on June 29, 2009.
EAST BALUCHISTAN: THE FORGOTTEN, ENDLESS WAR
While international attention focuses on the military offensive in northwestern Pakistan, the inhabitants of the south are still mired in an under-the-radar war that's lasted six decades.
By Karlos Zurutuza
Translated by Daisann McLane from the Spanish original Baluchistán: una guerra olvidada que no cesa.
The sound of the explosion hardly raises an eyebrow among the restaurant patrons. This is the dining room of the bus station in Khuzdar, a Baloch town halfway between Quetta and Karachi. After a couple of minutes, Abdulhamid, a local journalist, gets a call. Only now does the busy lunchtime crowd pause.
Abdulhamid breaks the dining room's silence. "It was a communications tower. No injured or dead," he announces.
It's good news for Sattar, who's sitting nearby. The guerrillas' actions won't keep him from opening his shop in the bazaar this afternoon.
"Whenever the BLA (Baluch Liberation Army) kills somebody there's always payback in the bazaar. The army drives down Jinnah Road (the main street) and shoots at the people from their jeeps," says the Merchant, as he uses his fingers to wrap pita bread around a morsel of beef. He explains that four people died that way last June 4th, and a dozen more were wounded. In addition, seven local students have "disappeared." This was the army's response after the BLA killed a Punjabi officer a few months ago.
Khuzdar is like lots of other Baloch towns in Pakistan-controlled Baluchistan. Viral graffiti with the initials of the BLA and BRA (Baluch Republican Army), accompanied by the slogan "Down With Pakistan" spreads across the walls of almost every building. On the other side of all these discomfiting acronyms in Khuzdar stands the Pakistani army, the Pakistani Police, the Frontier Corps (border police), the Rangers and other paramilitary detachments, simply called "scouts."
"Whether the Baloch attack or not, the army fires their bombs and weapons in order to scare us. Their training camps are right next to our houses," complains Sattar.
"Have you seen the barracks they're building now? Some say it will be the largest military complex in all of Pakistan," says the trader before leaving for work.
Indeed, the new military site appears large enough to accommodate all 600,000 troops in the Pakistani army. It's so massive, it has already 'swallowed' two mud-brick villages. The villagers, mostly shepherds, continue grazing their livestock inside the huge barrack walls that lead from the road into the mountains. They won't be evacuated until the wall has completely encircled the area. But it's just a matter of time before yet another settlement of displaced persons sprouts up in Khuzdar's outskirts. Just like in Quetta--head to the settlements around there and ask people how and why they came to live in the suburbs of a city, which is itself already a huge slum.
"Punjab (Pakistan) treats us like animals," explains Sirbaz, a trucker who has stopped here on his way to Karachi. This man, around forty, is originally from Dalbandin, a town which lies very close to the place where Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons in 1998. They were five explosions in the Chagai hills--explosions the local people will never forget.
"My sister has skin cancer, and so do two of my brothers. There are also plenty of people with eye cancer, and malformations are not uncommon among newborns," says the trucker. Islamabad has used every means at its disposal to prevent any investigation into the impact of the nuclear tests on the local population. But today, everyone understands that the radiation, at some stage, reached the underground aquifiers--the only water resource in this arid region.
"If you pass by Dalbandin and the surrounding area, stay away from the water." Shirbaz warns. "Do not even use it to wash your face."
After lunch, tea with milk is served--yet another British colonial legacy of the region. No one among the elders doubts that life here was much better in Balochistan under British rule than under Punjab's.
"What do people in Europe think about what is happening in Balochistan?" asks Atik, another passenger on the road to Quetta. As he waits for my response he gazes at me steadily with the eye they didn't burn out with a cigarette while he was in prison.
The assassination of Baluch statesman Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti , 80, on August 26, 2006 under the orders of military dictator and coup plotter General Pervez Musharraf, whose mother is a dancer from Lucknow, is a watershed in Baluch struggle for liberation.
Bugti knew he wwould be martyed but chose the path of martyrdom so that the Baluch people would rise up in revolt aganist their national slavery.
Next year, the A.F.B. Shaheed Nawab Akbar Bugti Reporting Award award would go to U.S. writers Wendy Johnson and Selig. S. Harrison.
The AFB led by presiding council members Laurie Deamer, Robert Selle, Rasheed Baluch and Ghafoor Baluch pledges fidelty to the independence movement in Baluchistan.