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August 23, 2008

New group formed to unite Baluch diaspora

By Ahmar Mustikhan

LONDON: In an unprecedent move, members of the Baluch Diaspora from Iran, Pakistan, North America, Europe and theGulf nations of UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman -- at least 12 nations -- agreed to form a single organization, called Baloch Human Rights Council, in London with veteran political activist Akbar Barakzai as its interim executive president and Abdus Samad Baloch as its general secretary.

According to a Press release, the new body will attempt to address the aggregated gross human rights violations in Baluchistan by both Iran and Pakistan. Baluch activists complain of an unseen Berlin Wall that was erected in Baluchistan when Iran occupied a huge part of Baluchistan the size of Nevada in 1928 , but the British who then controlled their homeland looked the other way. The area in Pakistan is slightly bigger than New Mexico, while the territory inside Afghanistan is the size of West Virginia. The artificial divison has left Baluch all over the world run in different directions, politically.

Through a resolution the Baluch from different parts of the world said they have decided to form Baloch Human Rights Council with an objective of securing human rights, land rights of indigenous Baluch populace, release of political detainees, stopping forceful disappearance of Baluch political and human rights activists, promoting Baluchi language as medium of instruction, stopping summary executions of Baluch youth, ensuring Baluch control over natural resources of Baluchistan, recognition of Baluch culture and heritage, ensuring freedom of thought and religion and stopping testing of nuclear weapons in Baluchistan and stopping growth of religious extremism and terrorism

A woman activist , Bibi Mahnaz Baloch, has been brought to the forefront of the new body as its cultural secretary.

The London-based international effort replicates the Baluch experience in Canada where the Baluch Diaspora, in spite of the diverse political backgrounds, undertake joint action on issue to issue basis on human rights violations in both Pakistan and Iran.

The other leaders of the new group are Dr. Habib Malik, president; Hassan Hamdam, vice president; Mir Ghulam Hussain, information secretary, and Shahaab Baloch, finance secretary.

The new body was announced after two days of brain-storming sessions. In addition to the interim committee a general council and a constitution committee were also formed.

The leadership of the new group held discussions with Khan of Kalat, Beglar Begi [Prince among the Princes] His Highness Suleman Daud Ahmedzai and former provincial minister Nawabzada Hairbiyar Marri, son and heir-apparent of veteran Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri.

Both the Khan of Kalat and Nawabzada Hairbiyar Marri are in self-exile in the U.K.

North America was represented at the moot by Dr. Zafar Baloch.

“This was a truly historic event. It succeeded well beyond my imagination,” Dr. Zafar Baloch said. He said delegates from Turkmenistan and Africa will also partake in the BHRC deliberations.

Meanwhile, Baluch notable from Mekran and board member of the American Friends of Baluchistan, Mohammed Ali Baloch welcomed the formation of the new group and hoped that it will give a fresh impetus to the Baloch struggle to get justice at the various international fora, especially the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

Dr. Zafar Baloch said the BHRC will crusade for victory at the ICJ.

Mohammed Ali Baloch, speaking to this correspondent from Philadelphia, said the AFB looks upon all organizations, big or small, both inside and outside Pakistani and Iranian Balochistan working for Baloch emancipation with equal respect. He said the new organization is a valuable addition.

“Some of the faces in the new body and their past politics need no introduction,” said Muhammad Ali Baloch, adding that what delights him the most is the point on ending nuclear tests in Balochistan.

The new body has also formed a constitution committee that includes Dr. Abdul Majeed, Dr. Azim Shirani, Dr. M. Husseinbor, Dr. Shambe Baloch and Dr. Zafar Baloch.