Manzoor Parwana to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki - moon
New York, NY 10017 USA
Tel.: No.: +212 963-5012 fax: +212 963-7055
Subject: UNO should intervene to stop genocide and rights violation in Gilgit Baltistan
I intend to draw your attention to a vital human rights issue which affects the two million people of Gilgit Baltistan. The region, declared disputed between India and Pakistan in 1948, is sandwiched strategically between India, Pakistan, China, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. UNO allowed Pakistan to assume temporary control over Gilgit Baltistan and stationed officials representing the UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan in both Gilgit and Skardu cities.
Till date, the natives of Gilgit Baltistan remain deprived of basic rights, the national identity and the right to self-governance as prescribed by the UN resolutions. On the other hand, gross level of human rights violations have continued to occur and in the aftermath of passenger’s massacre in Kohistan and Chilas, the right to free and safe travel has also been snatched away from the powerless residents. These incidents draw our attention towards involvement of militants and secret service personnel.
On February 28, 2012, militants wearing army uniform ambushed a bus in Kohistan and killed 18 Shia male passengers. Government has failed to arrest the assailants so far. The failure encouraged the terrorists who ambushed 34 buses near Chilas on April 3 2012 and killed dozens of Shia male passengers. The assailants numbering more than three thousand attacked the innocent passengers with stones, knives and automatic weapons. Eyewitness reports claim more than 50 deaths, scores injured and more than 100 abducted. The assailants torched 6 buses and pushed two in the Indus River.
The horrible incident occurred in front of police force and according to eyewitnesses; the police did not provide security to the passengers. Some local people of Chilas were later able to save the lives of 200 passengers.
Instead of arresting the miscreants of Gilgit Kohistan and Chilas, government resorted to imposing curfew in Gilgit city which has entered into 14th day. Under military control, life has crippled in the city and there is acute shortage of food and medicines. During the first ten days of curfew, there was a break of only 4 hours in which families arranged for food and water. The telecom system is completely blocked by the military and not news flows outside Gilgit. As majority of the workforce depend on daily wage labor for earnings, the curfew has forced them to remain shut in homes and lose the wages. Converting Gilgit Baltistan into a jail and denying basic food and medicine provisions is a gross violation of human rights. Military has arrested more than 100 youth from Gilgit.
The disputed status of Gilgit Baltistan deprives us of political and judicial rights within Pakistani constitutional framework. The Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court has refused to take the case of recent killings owing to the disputed nature of Gilgit Baltistan. Therefore we request the UNO to make necessary arrangements to ensure safety for the natives of the region. We demand that UNO should intervene to stop genocide at the hands of government backed terrorists.
We would like to draw your attention to the following:
1- In the light of UN resolution of January 5, 1949, the UN Security Council must ensure genuine political, judicial, economic and cultural autonomy in Gilgit Baltistan
2- Given that Pakistan has failed to ensure security in Gilgit Baltistan, UNO must station its peace keeping troops in the disputed region
3- Pakistan must be asked to open traditional trade routes leading towards India and Tajikistan which can help sustain local economy and provide alternate safe routes to travel as currently, travel on the Karakoram Highway is life threatening.
4- Violating UN resolutions, Pakistan abolished State Subject Rule in Gilgit Baltistan in 1974 and subsequently settled tens of thousands of her nationals to change local demography. Today the people of Gilgit Baltistan are threatened with ethnic cleansing. UNO must ask Pakistan to respect UN resolutions and remove her citizens who have damaged the social fabric by spreading extremism.
5- UNO must ask Pakistan to remove fake sedition cases and release all political prisoners. A UN commission must be sent to Gilgit Baltistan to assess gross human rights violations, killings, detentions and torture of political workers.
6- Recently more than 120 soldiers of Pakistan controlled Gilgit Baltistan and Kashmir died near the Siachen glacier after glacial melt and overflow damaged a village. UNO must ask India and Pakistan to remove forces from Siachen sector and convert the area into a peace park.
7- Pak must end curfew in Gilgit and ensure free and safe travel to all inhabitants on all routes.
In good faith,
Gilgit-Baltistan United Movement