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Baluchistan International Conference, Washington D.C.

Organized by American Friends of Balochistan

Nov. 21, 2009

International Conference on Balochistan Left to right: Iqbal Tareen, Dr. Gul Agha, Saghir A. Shaikh, PhD., Saleem Samad, M. Mumtaz Khan, Humaira Rahman and event organizer Ahmar Mustikhan.
Speakers in alphabetical order:
(Please note, this is a work-in-progress. I will add items as I receive them.)
Dr. Karim Abdian Dr. Karim Abdian: Dr. Karim Abdian is the executive director of Ahwaz Human Rights Organization, an international advocacy NGO, an advocacy organization for the rights of seven million Ahwazi-Arab ethnic minority in Iran. An Aerospace Engineer by profession, he was born and raised in al-Ahwaz or Khuzestan, Arab region of Iran. He is a PhD in International Economics and for the past 40 years, he has worked tirelessly and passionately on behalf of the Ahwazi-Arabs, Azeri-Turks, Arabs, Kurds, Baluch and Turkmen. He was imprisoned for 2 years in the infamous Evin prison during the Shah's reign for these activities. He has worked closely with UN Human Rights Commission, now Human Rights Council, with UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous peoples and with UN Minority Forum. Mr. Abdian and his wife Tina live in suburbs of Washington D.C. Their two children are Angela, 20, and Alex, 18. word doc video_part I

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Dr Gul Agha Dr. Gul Agha: Dr. Gul Agha is a well-known Computer Scientist and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Agha grew up in, and has traveled extensively throughout Sindh, and all of South Asia. He has written numerous short essays about Sindh and has lectured at many Sindhi gatherings. He was the Guest of Honor ('Mukhi Mehman') at the Sindhi New Year (Cheti Chand) celebration organized by the Bharti Sindhu Sabha in Thane in 2000 (Mumbai, India). Dr. Agha is an outstanding speaker whose expertise and personal experience enables him to speak extensively on human rights and international and domestic politics pertaining to Sindh and Baluchistan.   video clip I
Ismail Ameeri Ismail Ameeri: Ismail Ameeri attended high school in port city of Chahbahar and college in Zahedan in Western [Iranian occupied] Baluchistan. After the 1979 Iranian mullah takeover, he went to Karachi and earned his Master's degree in Political Science from the University of Karachi in 1985. In Karachi, he was actively involved in Baloch politics and Balochi literary forums and joined the Western Balochistan-based Balochistan National Movement. He is presently a member of the central and executive committees of the pro-independence party. A writer in Balochi language, he had been a co-editor of Monthly Taptan (Balochi). He regularly chairs and moderates Baluch gatherings in London. click to read

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Aziz Baloch Aziz Baloch: Aziz Baloch now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he represents the Baloch Human Rights Council. He is MA (Economics) from University of Balochistan and former zonal general secretary of the Baloch Students Organization [BSO], a student body engaged in in a struggle to secure the rights of the Baloch people since 1967. He has an associate degree in professional management and business technology management and served as lecture coordinator in the student program, inviting academics to speak on international topics. A volunteer interpreter/translator for Baloch community in Canada he is also a seasonal writer -- his articles have been published in articlebase.com and other websites. word doc

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Ali Arjemandi Ali Arjemandi: Ali Arjemandi is a Norwegian Baloch human rights activist and a political refugee from Iran. He is the brother of Ehsan Arjemandi, a Norwegian citizen who was disappeared in Pakistan on August 7, 2009. word doc  
Mohammad Ali Baloch Mohammad Ali Baloch: Mohammad Ali Baloch is a spokesperson for the Balochistan Peoples Party (Iran). click to read

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video clip (segment I)
Zaffar Baloch Zaffar Baloch: Zaffar Baloch, intellectual and English poet, is president of the Baloch Human Rights Council, Canada chapter. click to read

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Dr. Nazir Bhatti Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti: Dr. Nazir S. Bhatti has been campaigning for equal rights for Christian people in Pakistan since 1985. He is president of Pakistan Christian Congress [PCC] {See details www.pakistanchristiancongress.org}. He led numerous protests, hunger strikes, rallies and long marches with other leaders and members of PCC to condemn discriminatory laws in Pakistan. Before being forced to flee to US safety, he was arrested many times. He contested the blasphemy law in Lahore High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan and has challenged the Hadood Ordinance. The government of Pakistan registered 21 false cases of treason and blasphemy against him on February 13 1998, in Karachi, for leading a protest against the burning of Christian village Shanti Nagar by radical Muslims in Punjab.    
Laurie Deamer Laurie Deamer: Laurie Deamer is presiding council member of the American Friends of Balochistan. click to read  
Andrew Eiva Andrew Eiva: Andrew Eiva was born of refugee parents who fled tyranny in Lithuania, and learned early on that resistance warfare could help his homeland Lithuania regain independence. His quest took him to West Point -- where U.S. generals are trained -- and the Green Berets. He is best known for his impact on policy and the selection of effective weapons systems during Afghanistan's struggle against Red Army occupation. Later in Lithuania, he led the volunteer pro-independence forces in a showdown with Soviet occupation forces. During the Serb ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, he lobbied for military support for the Bosnians and Kossovars. Currently, he is working on a concept for the Sudanese resistance to use their oil and gas reserves as a tool for unity and victory. Eiva thinks a similar approach could benefit the Baluch drive for independence.  

video links:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Selig Harrison Selig S. Harrison: Selig S. Harrison, Asia director at the Center for International Policy, has written extensively on ethnic tensions in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran , focusing on the Baluch nationalist struggle. His 1980 book In Afghanistan?s Shadow: Baluch Nationalism and Soviet Temptations, published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, remains the most authoritative analysis of the Baluch nationalist movement. He is the author of Pakistan: The State of the Union, recently published by the Center for International Policy, where he directs the Asia Program. In this study, he calls on the government of Pakistan to honor the autonomy provisions of the 1973 Constitution and withdraw its armed forces and intelligence agencies from Baluchistan .
Harrison served for 22 years as a Senior Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and was South Asia and Northeast Asia Bureau Chief of The Washington Post.
His five books on Asia include India: The Most Dangerous Decades ( Princeton ) and The Widening Gulf: Asian Nationalism and American Policy (Free Press).
click to read  
Wendy Johnson: Wendy Johnson is a co-producer of the documentary 'The Baluch' and has a Master's degree in Languages and Literature of South Asia. click to read

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Raja Karthikeya Raja Karthikeya: Raja Karthikeya is a foreign policy researcher based in Washington DC. He writes often in South Asian and international media on security issues in South Asia and Iran with a focus on the role of ethnic political and nationalist movements in insurgencies in the region. He also regularly analyses South Asian politics and security issues as well as US foreign policy towards the region for Voice of America. He has served as an International Affairs Fellow at the US House of Representatives, has been an international election observer in Afghanistan and has worked in the private and non-profit sectors in North Africa, India and Afghanistan.

click to read

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M. Mumtaz Khan M. Mumtaz Khan: M.Mumtaz Khan is vice chairman of the International Kashmir Alliance. He started his political activism as a student leader more than a quarter century ago at the University of Karachi and bravely faced the religious extremists.
He has given a voice to the people of Kashmir at the UN Human Rights Council and boldly exposed Pakistan's human rights violations in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. He has tirelessly campaigned at interational fora against terrrorism and machinations of Pakistan's infamous Inter Services Intelligence in Kashmir since 1990. He advocates a free, secular and democratic Kashmir.
T. Kumar: T. Kumar is the Advocacy Director for International Issues for Amnesty International USA. He has served as a human rights monitor in many Asian countries as well as in Bosnia, Haiti, Guatemala, and South Africa. He has also served as director of several refugee ships and refugee camps. Kumar often testifies before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and frequently lectures at the Foreign Service Institute. A former political prisoner in Sri Lanka for more than five years, he has been interviewed by CNN, BBC, and NPR. He is also a Professor at Washington College of Law's Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.    
Gulam Lalzad Gulam Lalzad, PhD: Gulam Lalzad, PhD., is a veteran Baluchi language broadcast journalist, now based in Toronto. Mr. Lalzad is originally from Afghanistan. He was with the Baluchi service of All India Radio for 30 years. word doc video clip
Hairbyar Marri

Hyrbyair Marri: Hyrbyair Marri is the fifth son of veteran Baloch national leader Nawab Khair Baksh Marri. Mr. Marri did his higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Russia, where he studied journalism. In 1997 Mr. Marri took part in Balochistan provincial elections, winning an overwhelming majority of votes to become Minister of Road and Communications in the Balochistan state government in Pakistan.

In 1999, Mr. Marri sought exile in the UK, the same year Musharraf came into power through a military coup and dismissed the government of Nawaz Sharif, including all provincial governments. On December 4, 2007, Hybyair Marri was arrested at the behest of the military government of General Pervez Musharraf and put in Britain’s high security Belmarsh prison. He is the first Baloch leader, along with Faiz Baluch, ever to serve prison abroad for the Baloch cause. In February 2008 he and Faiz Baluch were acquitted of terrorism charges by a British jury. Mr. Marri remains steadfast in his demand for an independent Balochistan. He is open to the idea of a dialogue, but insists that the issue of Balochistan’s independence must be a part of any such talks. (full bio)

click to read

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(for US event)
Video (from London event)
Munir Mengal Munir Mengal: Munir Mengal is the managing director of Baloch Voice based in Paris, France. He hails from the remote Mashkay area in Awaran, Pakistan Occupied Balochistan. He had planned to launch a Balochi and Brohi language satellite TV channel called "Baloch Voice." But Pakistani intelligence agencies abducted him on April 4, 2006 and he was held incommunicado and faced worst torture in a Pakistan military dungeon for 16 months. After being freed on 23rd April 2008, he came to France with the help of Reporters Sans Frontieres. He has attended two UNHCR council sessions and made speeches at events organized by the UNPO and Interfaith International. ppt file  
Ahmar Mustikhan Ahmar Mustikhan: Event organizer. Ahmar Mustikhan, 50, is a veteran Baluch journalist, now a worker for independent Baluchistan. He firmly believes in unity of humankind -- Hindus, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and all other faiths, beliefs -- and is convinced balkanization of Pakistan is in humankind's best interests. word doc  
Annie Nocenti Annie Nocenti: Annie Nocenti's writing has appeared in Details, Utne, HEEB, Stop Smiling, PRINT, The Independent, Filmmaker, Scenario, High Times, CounterPunch, Lies of Our Times, Chronogram and Prison Life. Her story The Most Expensive Road Trip in the World was published in the Best Travel Writing 2008, editor Anthony Bourdain. She has edited books for The Nation and Moveon.org. Her interviews with film directors have been published and anthologized. Her comics include Daredevil, Longshot, Typhoid Mary, and Spider-man. Nocenti made a film with Wendy Johnson called The Baluch http://blip.tv/file/1211472 and wrote a story about her trip to Baluchistan: http://www.brooklynrail.org/2006/12/express/letter-from-baluchistan Nocenti currently teaches film in Haiti.   video clip from remarks
Prof. Naela Quadri Prof. Naela Quadri: Prof. Naela Quadri was born July 18, 1965 in Shaal (Quetta) Eastern Balochistan. She worked at University of Balochistan, Quetta, for 10 years but resigned in protest against anti-Baloch policies of university administration in 2002. She is a pioneer and leader of Baloch women’s movement and has 25 years of fearless struggle against honor killing in Baluchistan behind her.

Prof. Quadri was a member of the Balochistan National Party, but later joined the Baloch Republican Party some months ago and is member of its central committee.

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Asad Rehman Asad Rahman: Asad Rahman is program director at the Sungi Development Foundation. He had taken part in the Baluch resistance against the Pakistan military occupation of Baluchistan along with the Marri guerillas in 1973-77. He was the youngest but fittest in the popular London Group, when at the age of 21, he used to ambush the Pakistani military convoys and take away ammunition from them to sustain the Baluch liberation movement. An eyewitness to the "genocide" of the Baluch in the 70s, Rahman alias Chakar Khan, is still an ardent supporter of an independent Baluchistan. He recalls Pakistan military brutality saying Baloch women were used as 'comfort women' in military custody and male fighters were captured and thrown down from flying helicopters. word doc  
Humaira Rahman Humaira Rahman: Humaira Rahman is general secretary of the World Sindhi Institute. A former practicing architect and lecturer, she is an environmental and human rights activist. She had laucnhed a highly successful non-profit against urban sprawl in her hometown of Karachi. Ms. Rahman belongs to a well-known family from Old Karachi, where her father and uncle were respected for their community service as educationists and jurists. Currently, she resides in Toronto, Canada. Notes here.

The article Ms. Rahman refers to, The self-determination trap by Marc Weller, can be downloaded here.

video, part II

video, part III

Saleem Samad Saleem Samad: Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow for journalism, has co-authored several books on conflict, terrorism and forced migration. He is President of International Forum for Secular Bangladesh (Canada Chapter), which recently held a day-long film event on Bangladesh War Crimes in Toronto, Canada. In November 2002, he was detained and tortured by the Bangladesh authority. His arrest invited international uproar by rights groups. He is presently living in exile in Canada, after security agencies harassed him for his articles on the nexus of Bangladesh security agencies with the Jihadists. He received Hellman-Hammett Grants award by the New York based Human Rights Watch.    
Robert Selle Robert R. Selle: Robert Selle has been a newspaper and magazine journalist for 24 years. Most recently, he has been editor of The World & I Online, a monthly e-zine that focuses on current issues, world cultures, the arts, and the sciences. He is also editor of The Africa Dispatch, a newsletter that presents positive news about Africa. He has been a current issues editor for The World & I, a monthly print magazine; a Special Sections editor for The Washington Times daily newspaper; and managing editor of the New York City Tribune, once a daily based in Manhattan. He and his wife Angelika have four children (3 sons and a daughter) and live in Bowie, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, where he continues to edit and write. word doc  
Saghir Shaikh Saghir A. Shaikh, PhD.: Saghir A. Shaikh, Ph.D, is based in California . He is the former chairman of the World Sindhi Congress -- a Sindhi advocacy and educational organization with chapters in UK, USA.. Dr. Shaikh has been active in different social and political forums since he was five. He is one of the founding members of Sindhi Baloch Forum, G M Syed Memorrial Committee, Sojhro.Org (an education and career abroad web portal), and a life member of Sindhi Association of North America. Dr Shaikh speaks regularly at seminar and conferences to highligting the Sindh struggle for national self-determination and Baluch fight for independence. pdf file The World Sindhi Congress and various Baloch groups have collaborated for a decade. Please visit this site for event information.
Feyera Sobokssa Feyera Sobokssa: Feyera Sobokssa, 48, is a member of the Oromo people in Ethiopia who are strugging for the right to self-determination. Mr. Sobokssa is a graduate from Addis Ababa University with a BA degree in Accounting. After working for Ethiopian Airlines for more than 18 years, Mr. Sobokssa was forced to flee his country.

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Dr. Nazir Bhatti

Iqbal Tareen: Mr. Iqbal Tareen was born in Shikarpur, Sindh and graduated from Sindh University Engineering College, Jamshoro. During his student years, he actively participated in the movement for the restoration of sovereignty of Sindh. Mr. Tareen was the founding president of Jeay Sindh Students Federation. During the regimes of Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Z.A. Bhutto, he was incarcerated for extended periods of time. In 1969, he was kept in solitary confinement for seven months in the notorious Central Prison of Multan.

In 1982, Tareen migrated to the U.S. Currently, he is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for a Richardson-based IT and Telecom Solutions and Consulting Company in Texas. Mr. Tareen is a human rights activist who has also edited Sindh Monitor, a publication voicing Sindhi-American opinion on issues relating to Sindh and South Asia. As a Sindhi American, he strongly supports an active American foreign policy that takes a moral stand against dictatorial regimes, ethnic cleansing, hate crimes and homegrown and overseas terrorism.