TORONTO/WASHINGTON DC: The largest Baloch organization in Canada, the Baloch Human Rights Council of Canada, has expressed serious concerns over the violent act of vandalism against the Balochistan-based Daily Tawar and termed it a violation of freedom of speech.
While condemning the burning of the copies of Daily Tawar and vandalizing the newspaper’s offices, B.H.R.C. stated that such deplorable acts not only violate the sanctity of rights and freedoms of the Press but also unwittingly endorse the state policy of silencing Baloch journalists.
The statement released by Dr. Zaffar Baloch, B.H.R.C. president, further emphasized that Baloch people have limited access to media and destroying local resources will only enable the state in effectively repressing the Baloch voice of dissent.
B.H.R.C. stated that the Pakistani establishment is already targeting Baloch journalists and we have lost Lala Hameed Hayatan, Ilyas Nazar, and Mohammad Khan Sasoli to the extra-judicial killings by the security forces. Furthermore, any attack on a Balochistan-based newspaper will endanger the lives of Baloch journalists in future.
B.H.R.C. appealed to the sensibility of the Baloch leadership to help protect freedom of press and resolve differences peacefully among the youth so that it does not escalate into a full-blown culture of violent means to settle disputes.
“The human rights group also expressed solidarity with the publishers and journalists of Daily Tawar for their unwavering courage in working under dangerous circumstances to promote the voice of Baloch rights and freedoms including the freedom of speech,” Dr. Zaffar Baloch said.
In a separate statement, the DC-based pro-independence American Friends of Balochistan also appealed to the Baloch leadership that the attack on Daily Tawar must be construed as an attack not only on the freedom of the Press but also the David-and-Goliath independence movement of Balochistan, led by the young heroes and heroines in the Baloch National Front and allied resistance organizations.
“The attackers who belong to the Baloch Students Organization (Mengal) must publicly apologize for their uncalled for actions. Our heads are bowed in shame over these cowardly attacks by our very own blood-and-bone on the sacrosanct principle of the freedom of the Press.”
The A.F.B. observed that it was a great tragedy that there are many Punjabi and mohajir-owned newspapers who are the mouthpiece of the Pakistani defense and civil establishment and they are doing business as usual iin cahoots with the corrupt bureaucracy in Quetta, but the lone voice for the Balochistan freedom movement is being targetted by misguided Baloch youngsters.
“Daily Tawar, by its bold and courageous reporting, has earned its place in the future annals of the Balochistan war of liberation. Images of burning copies of Daily Tawar and their ransacked office have left us bereft and must be condemned by all Baloch writers, intellectuals, poets, political activists, political leaders regardless of their political persuasion and party affiliation.”
The A.F.B. said it is a strange coincidence that the burning of Daily Tawar in the month of May coincides with the May 1933 barbarism in the German cities of Berlin and Leipzig when the Nazis tossed thousands of books into the flames of already ignited bonfires.
The A.F.B. said Helen Keller, a blind, deaf and mute American writer had said about the Nazi book-burning then, “History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas… I deplore the injustice and unwisdom of passing on to unborn generations the stigma of your deeds.”