Monday, November 12, 2007

Police arrest, release 48 students in Islamabad Protest: Eyewitness account

A silent student led demonstration was held at three thirty in the afternoon, near Shaheen Chowk in Islamabad. The protesters were mainly clothed in black, but some wore their school uniforms – the majority being young students belonging to local schools, joined by civil society members. The tape across our mouths was meant to symbolize the recent loss of the right to free speech.A few days earlier a student organization had been formed, which had discussed the demonstration that took place today in great detail. We had decided that it would be silent as well as peaceful. Thus, we walked in the general direction of the Parliament and attempted to cooperate with the police who intercepted us within forty five minutes. Instructed not to move any further till the Magistrate arrived – the entire demonstration sat down on a green belt in compliance. The Magistrate told us that we could not go any further and we must go back. We had only begun to make our way back to our cars when we realized that the road had been blocked, and a normally congested road was now deserted. Soon, trucks upon trucks of Punjab Police began to arrive. As we made our way to the other side of the road while thinking of a possible way out we soon found ourselves completely encircled. We decided to form a human chain as escape seemed impossible. The male students who were on the outer ring were immediately arrested, while I among other female students struggled to rationalize with the women police – who appeared to empathize. Forty eight of the boys (nearly all of those who were present) were loaded into vans and sent off to the nearest police station (Margalla Thaana). We made our way to the senior police officer who had just appeared on the scene and apparently ordered the entire arrest. We explained to him how we had been allowed to walk back, to which his response was a long and detailed explanation of the much hated section 144. After two chaotic hours, in and outside the police station, where now foreign media was present too, all those arrested were finally released. The students resolve has only been strengthened as a result of this incident – we will continue to voice our opinions, as is our right, in a peaceful and non-violent manner.


Anonymous said...

really proud of you guys at LUMS. I wish I was there with you guys protesting ,we pakistanis here in US are protesting in every way we can and you are not alone.Try to coordinate your efforts with your friends in colleges in khi and across lahore and other cities.

Anonymous said...

God Bless you!!