November 28, 2016Print : Top Story
LONDON: Thailand’s government has deported and revoked the visa of a nationalist Baloch activist who had announced holding a conference in Thailand’s capital on Balochistan without allegedly getting permission from the authorities.
Munir Mengal, Baloch Voice Association’s head and Bilal Baloch, a journalist based in Paris, both of whom carry French passports, were deported on Sunday by the Thai authorities for allegedly holding a conference on Balochistan while being on the “tourist visa” and “without having permission from the government about the conference”.
The sources told The News that the conference titled “Balochistan Geo-politics and Baloch Identity” was set to be held at the Asian Institute of Technology Conference Center – AIT and Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand from 28th to 30th November 2016 and several nationalist figures were sent invitations for the conference.
However, on Saturday night, the local police entered the hotel where the conference participants were staying and told the organisers that they were violating the law by holding a conference of a sensitive nature without seeking permission.
At the time of filing of this report, both Munir Mengal and Bilal Baloch were unavailable to comment because they were at the detention centre in Bangkok waiting to be deported to Paris but one of the main guests at the event and renowned activist Baseer Naveed told The News that the local authorities used “heavy-handed tactics to sabotage the conference”.
The invitations sent out to various participants said that the conference would discuss the “Construction of a new deep sea port at Gwadar”, “Pakistan’s relations with China” and “Pak-China Economic Corridor, Gwadar Deep Sea Port, Pasni Naval Base, TAPI and IPI pipelines”.
Many nationalist figures, based in Europe, told The News that they were invited to the conference but they declined the invitation because of the distance factor and the very questions about the nature and aim of the conference. Pictures showed police officers entering a small room and speaking to around five people sitting in the room.
Asian Human Rights Commission’s Baseer Naveed told The News that orders were received on Saturday evening by the authorities informing them that the conference could not be allowed. “We were gathered at a private event of a few individuals when it was disrupted. We told the police and immigration officers that no law was violated but the visas of Munir and Bilal were revoked.”
He said the immigration officers produced deportation orders and told the two activists to pack up and leave, telling the guests that the conference would not go ahead.He claimed that the Baloch activists were issued “conference visas” and not “tourist visas” but a Thai govt source said that the tourists could not be allowed to play with the local laws.Baseer Naveed alleged that the Thai government might have taken action to please “the Chinese and Pakistani governments”.
On Monday after reaching in Paris, Bilal Baloch told this scribe that he had entered Thailand on a journalist visa and Munir had “conference visa” with him. “Its not true that the local immigration laws were broken. We were told by the police that the conference will not be allowed to go ahead because of extreme political pressure.”