Speaking today at the European Parliament in Brussels, at a conference hosted by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
“Thank you very much to UNPO and to all of you for being here today. It’s a great honour to speak alongside so many esteemed speakers who have done so much to support the Baloch national cause.
Today, I want to address the Pakistani occupation. Balochistan was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan in 1948, without any public agreement or consent. It is a colony of Pakistan, in all but name, and remains part of Pakistan by armed force.
I speak as someone who has been campaigning for 50 years, promoting democracy movements and the right to self-determination in many subjugated countries.
I bring to the table my experience and knowledge of how they succeeded in moving from a regime of occupation to a successful liberation movement that secured independence.
This is the big challenge for us now: How do we get Balochistan from where it is at this moment, to where we want it to be in the future?
I speak as a friend of Balochistan, but I am mindful that the future of Balochistan is a matter for the people and national movement of Balochistan. It’s not up to me or any other outsider to dictate solutions. I offer experience and knowledge. The future of Balochistan must be decided by the Baloch people.
What I’m doing today is offering some ideas for consideration. These ideas are not mine alone. They are the result of discussions with and between Baloch national activists.
The biggest shortcoming is the lack of a peace and self-determination plan. There are many laudable aims from many different sectors of the Baloch national democratic movement. But there is no coherent, generally agreed plan of action.
What is needed is a road map setting out how to end the occupation and secure a negotiated political settlement.
The Baloch political movement needs to put Pakistan on the spot by proposing a credible plan saying: This is what we want. This is how we’re going to get from here to there. The international community also wants to see a plan. They want to know what you stand for and how you propose to achieve a solution.
This draft charter is a road map to deescalate the conflict – leading to national liberation and the creation of a new independent state.
The Balochistan Freedom Charter proposes a six-stage process for peace and self-determination:
First: A UN supervised ceasefire, the cessation of military operations by all sides, and the confinement of Pakistani forces to barracks and Baloch nationalist insurgents to guerrilla camps.
Second: The release of all political prisoners and a full account of the fate of all disappeared persons.
Third: Open access to all parts of Balochistan for media, aid agencies and human rights organisations.
Fourth: The right of return of displaced refugees, restoration of their property and compensation by Pakistan for losses caused by the conflict.
Fifth: An to end the inward colonisation of Balochistan by non-Baloch settlers.
And sixth: A UN supervised referendum on self-determination, offering the people of Balochistan of the option of independence.
The Balochistan Freedom Charter also proposes six principles as the basis of an independent state of Balochistan:
First: Social justice, equality and human rights for all Baloch people.
Second: Land reform – The right of every adult Baloch person to have a share of land ownership.
Third: Redistribution of wealth and power to all the people of Balochistan.
Fourth: A secular state, where people of all faiths and none have equal legal status and where no religion is privileged in law, government or public institutions.
Fifth: Democratic and personal freedoms, including free multi-party elections, the right to protest and freedom of speech and the press, as enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
And sixth: A UN Commission of Inquiry into disappeared persons, and the victims of detention without trial, torture and extra-judicial killings, leading to a UN Special Tribunal to prosecute human rights abusers for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Balochistan Freedom Charter is similar to, and modelled on, the Freedom Charter of the African National Congress of South Africa, which successfully mobilised the South African people and international public opinion against apartheid and in support of the ANC.
The Balochistan Freedom Charter is important for four reasons:
One: The people of Balochistan have a right to know what the nationalist movement stands for. They are more likely to rally around and unite behind a clear, practical liberation programme.
Two: The Balochistan Freedom Charter could become a focus for uniting the diverse Baloch factions. It is worded with broad appeal, to unite the largest possible number of Baloch people, despite whatever other disagreements they might have. Maximum unity has been the key to every successful national liberation struggle. Division weakens and undermines the Baloch freedom movement.
Three: Pakistan needs to be put on the spot with specific demands to end militarisation, occupation and the violation of human rights – and to agree the right to self-determination, in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.
Four: The UN and governments worldwide are more likely to support the Baloch national liberation struggle if they know what Baloch nationalists are seeking and the proposed character of a future independent Balochistan. The Balochistan Freedom Charter’s commitment to democracy, human rights and secularism is particularly important and will resonate with democratic governments, human rights organisations and the UN and EU.
Whether these proposals are the right ones is a matter for debate. But it is crucial that there is some kind of specific, credible road map, which the Baloch people, together with the UN and the international community, can press Pakistan to accept.
Some critics say that Balochistan can never win against its all-powerful, over-bearing occupier. But from my knowledge of history, David can defeat Goliath, as the US learned to its cost in Vietnam.
Like all people everywhere, the people of Balochistan have a right to self-determination. It is enshrined in the UN Charter.
Pakistan can delay Balochistan’s right to self-determination – at great financial, moral, political and reputational cost – but the freedom of Balochistan cannot, must not and will not be denied,” said Mr Tatchell.