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February 14, 2018

Call for release of jailed activists, end to rights abuses in Gilgit-Baltistan


February 14, 2018

Denouncing the arrest of Advocate Ehsan Ali, a prominent human rights activist and senior lawyer from Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), political and civil society activists staged at protest outside the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday to demand the release of all activists imprisoned in the country’s northern region.

The Inqilabi Socialists Karachi (ISK), a leftist group, had organised the protest as part of a campaign for the release of Ali and other jailed political activists, including Baba Jan.

Ali, who is the president of the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court Bar Association and former head of Awami Action Committee, was arrested in the early hours of Monday from his home in Gilgit.

The charge for Ali’s arrest was from a case registered against him on January 8 for sharing an allegedly controversal post on Facebook. The protesters gathered outside the KPC raised slogans against the GB government and demanded the immediate release of all political activists languishing behind bars.

Those in attendance included leftist political activists and supporters from different walks of life. Addressing the participants, the speakers leading the protest said they would continue to raise their voices to pressure the GB government for the release of Ali, Baba Jan and other political activists, and for an end to the repression and human rights abuses in the region.

“We stand united with the political activists of GB who have been detained because of their struggles for the rights of locals,” said one of the speakers. The protesters also demanded of the federal government to withdraw the extension and application of the Anti-Terrorism Act to GB.

Dr Riaz Ahmed and Sartaj Khan from ISK, political and rights activists Ayub Qureshi, Saeed Baloch, Naghma Shaikh and Wahid Baloch were prominent among the protesters. In April 2014, Ali and the Awami Action Committee, a group of around two dozen political and religious parties, had peacefully mobilised thousands of people across GB, forcing the federal government to cancel a decision related to the withdrawal of a subsidy on wheat.

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