Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Massive Student Protest in Islamabad - Eyewitness Account

On the call of the Student Action Committee (Islamabad) over a 1000 protesters gathered at Aabpara Chowk in Islamabad today. The rally consisted mostly of students from many different universities of Islamabad and surrounding areas. Lawyers, NGOs, Human Rights workers, journalists and members of civil society also joined in to show their support to the students. They were holding flags, banners, placards, posters and flags and were demanding an end to all the draconian policies post Nov-3 and an immediate restoration of the deposed judges and lifting on all curbs on media.
The protest started peacefully at 3 pm. Participants showed their extreme hate towards inhumane ordinances with slogans such as "Rule of Guns and batons, will not work", "The policies of terror, are unacceptable". There was a specially prepared car with a loudspeaker on top that played national anthems and songs in praise of the brave Pakistanis who were fighting for their right for a normal democratic country.
As the protest started moving towards the police club, the police surrounded the protesters threatening dire consequences if they continued to move on. The protesters had made their mind that they will use their fundamental right to protest peacefully and non-violently and resisted to police intimidation. After a few rounds of negotiation the police allowed the protesters to proceed in "groups of 4" for "security reasons". Apparently, students are the new terrorists to them.
Female students proceeded initially but when police stopped all men from joining the proceedings they returned and refused to move till their male counterparts were also allowed to proceed. Someone had heard a few policemen talking about arresting the male protesters under Section 114 which suspends the fundamental human right of organizing a group meeting or rally and no one was willing to risk an arrest of any of their fellows. It was really heartening to see much solidarity amongst students who had all come from different schools, colleges and universities and from diverse backgrounds to come to the help of each other. We can find solace in the fact that the future leaders of Pakistan are united in their demand to save Pakistan and have forgotten their personal differences.
After the first cordon-off, the police surrounded the students another time this time hoping to intimidate them again to stop the protest. The indiscriminately hit a few students in a cowardly attempt to shatter their morale and stop their peaceful struggle. The students did not resist but more importantly did not give up. They sat down in front of the police and again after negotiations they were allowed to move forward but this time one at a time.
The students regrouped again and started moving together as one body. Many had received threats from bullies sitting in government offices to stop speaking up against tyranny and so were really particular in not moving ahead alone. Given thousands have 'disappeared' without charges or ever being brought before a court, it hardly came as a surprise. They wanted to be safe.
This time the police stooped to a new low and started targeting women. Ghazala Minallah sustained injuries on her face. Other prominent human rights activists were also targetted. Farzana Bari, Hajra Ahmad, Alia and Asha Amir Ali also got hit with batons. After watching such police brutality the students of Pakistan could not hold themselves any longer. The retaliated in self-defence and to protect the innocent women who were being specifically targeted. Many came forward to protect the women and put themselves as shields. Some were brave enough to pull batons away from the policemen. Some used their own flags to prevent the police from hitting women. In the struggle that followed many students got beaten up while a significant proportion of policemen also suffering some beating.
A few helmets of the Riot police fell to the ground, many of their batons were taken by the students and it adequately depicted the future to come: students will resist illegal authority, protect their fellow citizens of Pakistan and of course topple a draconian regime the same way they forced the police to withdraw. Forthwith the procession went ahead to the press club uninterrupted to show solidarity with the journalists. Many prominent speakers ranging from Iqbal Haider from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Marvi Samad, an activist spoke to this reinvigorated crowd that was louder than before.
The Students of Pakistan are not dead. They are coming out numbers to take back their Pakistan!
- Caped Avenger

Call for condemning this inhumane targeted beating of women by Policemen:

The police today was from a section of Capital Police. The Additional SP in today's protest was Nasir Aftab (who was also responsible for ordering baton charge on students and arresting 48 juveniles.) You can call him at 0300-8505563 to show your disgust as this level of indecency shown today. The Magistrate for today's protest was Kamran Cheema who is the same Magistrate who has repeatedly claimed that the CJ and the other honorable judges are allowed to move freely and who also suggested that Benazir was free to move about when police had barricaded her house. He can be reached at 9261163 (between 9-5). Please do convey your sentiments to these "defenders of the people of Pakistan" and anyone relevant.


nazia said...

Such demonstration clearly indicate that we are live not dead nation.Remember one thing these police men are slaves of order.They have no national spirit or cause in their mind.If presidnet,governors, chief ministers and top brass of army are openely and directly involved in hooliganism and unlawful acts so think that these people are just knights.At this moment all state forces and resources are being used to shut all voices that are denying Mussarf orders.So students are writing a unique history of Pakistan that first time our nation is oozing out on national issues.Try to popular this slogan (Mussaraf yeh zulam na kar.Each time police strike on unarmed protester just say it as all orders are coming from GHQ.

Uni said...

Great work people !! I admire your bravery and resilience.

Isn't there something of the sort being organized in Karachi ??