Class “justice”: Baba Jan and his comrades sentenced to 40 years in prison

Jan Malewski,

Accused without evidence of acts that he could not have committed, since he was at the time about sixty kilometres away, Baba Jan was tortured, convicted and then acquitted on appeal. He came second in the elections in 2015 while imprisoned and was tipped to win a by-election.babajan Now our comrade, who is vice-president of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) of Pakistan and leader of the party in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, was sentenced by the Supreme Court of Appeal in this region occupied and administered by Pakistan, on June 8, 2016, to 40 years in prison and a fine of 500,000 rupees, under a special law, called “anti-terrorist.” Eight other activists – Iftikhar Hussain, Aleem, Irfan Ali, Shukurullah Baig, Sarfraz, Rasheed, Musa and Sher Khan – received the same sentence. [1]

Despite what the severity of the sentence seems to imply, Baba Jan and his comrades are not activists who took up arms against the state. They simply raised their voices for the fate of thousands of people of the Hunza Valley who were displaced as a result of a climate disaster in January 2010 and protested against corruption and against the violent repression that had been unleashed against the victims demonstrating in August 2011.

“An institution that is neither fair nor neutral”

In the words of the Asian Commission on Human Rights (AHRC) on June 16: “the date of the verdict raises suspicions regarding its fairness and impartiality. Baba Jan was a candidate in the by-election, scheduled for May 28, 2016, to the Legislative Assembly of Gilgit-Baltistan in the Hunza-6 district. Three days before the vote, Baba Jan’s campaign team, including regional AWP leaders, had held a massive rally in support of his candidacy, also bringing together large numbers of women and young people.

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