Pakistan
02.09.02
Urgent Interventions

Pakistan: killing and arrestation of farmers

ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONCERN
Case PAK 080802. 1 ESCRC
Follow-up to Case PAK 080802 ESCRC


The International Secretariat of OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Pakistan.


New Information

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by ACPP-Hotline Asia, a member of the OMCT network, of the killings of four men and a woman and the wounding of 18 others by the police and rangers who fired on the tenants of the Okara military farms on Saturday 24 August 2002.

According to the information received, villages Nos. 13/4-L and 4/4-L in the Okara District were besieged by a large contingents of the police and rangers (paramilitary personnel) led by brigadier Ehsan Tiwana on Saturday 24 August 2002. It is reported that the residents of the Okara military farms gathered in large numbers in order to object to the presence of the police and the rangers, and that the police and rangers fired tear gas and resorted to shouting in order to disperse the tenants, killing four men and a woman and wounding 18 other persons.

According to the information received, the police also arrested between 20 and 25 farmers and conducted raids to carry out more arrests. Moreover, the administration is alleged to have filed false cases under the Anti Terrorist Act (ATA) against the tenants of the farm. Finally, it is reported that the villages remained under siege during at least 5 days following the arrests and shooting and that the villagers could hardly establish contact outside.


Reminder of the situation
These events occur against the background of a of a 100 year struggle for land rights undertaken by the farmers. Today, there are about one million tenant farmers who work on farms owned by the government of Punjab in more than 10 districts across the province, corresponding to 21 farms under the military and agriculture department’s control. Although these tenants and their ancestors have been cultivating the same land for almost a century, they still have neither legal entitlements over this land, nor effective control, despite the promise made by the Pakistan government in 1999 to grant them ownership rights. Consequently, there have been various conflicts between the tenant farmers and the state administration due to the non-respect of land rights, the mismanagements of farms by the state agencies and abuses and threats of eventual evictions to which the farmers were submitted. The farmers’ resistance to the violation of their rights was met by repression involving police and military action.
Thus, since January 2002, when an attempt to alter tenure arrangement on the military farms sparked the tenant uprising, there have been several shooting incidents in Okara and Khanewal districts, with tenants working on farms operated by the military being subjected to arrests, intimidation, outright physical violence and threatened of land eviction in the course of massive police operations. In January 2002, a tenant was shot and killed in Renala Khurd, Okara by the Director of Renala State military farms. In April, the tenants decided to hold back the traditional wheat harvest share that is surrendered to operating agencies. In the middle of May, two more tenants were shot and killed in the villages of Okara and Khanewal. Massive police shootings also took place in June at Pirowal, Kala Shah Kaku and Multan. In Khanewal and Okara districts, farmers notably observed a siege for many days with their supply of water and telephone cut off and false cases were allegedly filed against them by the farm administration.
Action Requested

Please write to the Pakistani authorities urging them to:

i. immediately stop the police and rangers’ action in the Okara District and urge the administration to hold talks with the farmers instead of using threats and coercive power;

ii. guarantee an immediate investigation into the circumstances of these events, identify those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial civil tribunal and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by law;

iii. immediately and unconditionally release the arrested tenants, drop the false cases under the ATA against them, and stop further attempts to arrest others;

iii. ensure the tenant farmers’ right to adequate housing ;

iv. guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


Addresses

· General Pervez Musharraf, Chief Executive of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Prime Minister House, Islamabad, Pakistan, Email: CE@pak.gov.pk, Fax: +92-51-9201893 / +92-51-9201835 / +92-51-9204632 / + 92 51 922 4768

. Lt. Gen. Khalid Maqbool, Governor of Punjab, Governor’s House Labore, Pakistan, Fax: 92-42-9200077

. Punjab Seed Corporation, 4 Lytton Road Lahore, Pakistan, Fax: 92-42-7235796.


Geneva, September 2, 2002


Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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