Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A telling account of the Islamabad violence

A detainee in the Islamabad protest speaks
Kamil N.
On midnight of December 15th, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan officially lifted emergency rule.

Let us forget for now, that the judiciary has been deposed of and that his own puppet judges have now been installed. Let us forget that the constitution of this nation has been treated as if it were a cheap, common whore, to be used and abused at will, changed and altered to justify what Musharraf has done and to grant him more power than ever more. Let us forget that the military, with its new "Army Act" now has the power to court martial civilians in military courts, with no chance of appeals (yes, carried forward from the emergency). Let us forget that, the shedding of his uniform, the lifting of the emergency, all of this is meaningless, since Musharraf had managed to garuntee that he stays in power for at least 5 more years. We were told that Pakistan would "return" to its "road to democracy" after the emergency had been lifted. This is the same "democracy" that Musharraf claims to have been leading us to for the past 8 years.

Allow me now, to show you, my friends, just what "democracy" truly means for Musharraf and for his masters (a.k.a. The United States of America and their lapdogs).

December 17th, 2007 was the day that 280 odd citizens in Islamabad managed to demolish any and all multi-million-dollar worth propaganda that the Pakistani government had been trying to put up regarding how the country would become "peaceful" and "democratic" once the emergency had been lifted. It would have been an ordinary, everyday protest. We marched down the Blue Area road, towards the parliament, accompanied by the police. As we neared the turn to the Geo office, we decided that it was high time to put President Pervez Musharraf's word to the test: Were the deposed judges of Pakistan really "free" to travel around the country as he claimed?

The moment we tried to turn left towards the judges' colony, the police tried to block us. We pushed past them, and that was that: They attacked us.

To call it chaos would be an understatement. They hit us with their laathis (long, stout wooden sticks) and rammed us with their shields. An APC screeched up and down the road, lobbing tear gas shells at us. The air was soon thick with the substance, making us feel as though as our eyes were going to burn out of our sockets and our lungs were about to collapse. We realized that a few of our own had been beaten so brutally that they had succumbed to the tear gas and had simply fainted right there in the middle of the green belt area where we had fled to from the road where the police had chased us off from. It could not have been in a worse location, so some of us ran back, coughing and choking, to lift them up and bring them back.

The police were charging at us from all directions yelling and screaming, attacking anyone they could get their hands on. To make matters worse, some students began pelting the police with stones. However, what the newspapers NEGLECT to mention is that most of us, i.e. the organizers and others students were beside ourselves with rage when this happened. We screamed ourselves hoarse and tried to stop them.

These students were NOT part of the original protest; they seem to have simply "appeared" out of nowhere. Earlier, they were seen harassing some of the journalists covering the protests, fairly odd considering that we wanted this to be fully covered. It is likely that these "students" were not students at all. Their agenda? Thrill seeking? Seems a bit passé, no? At times like this, I wouldn't exclude the idea that they were agents of the government deliberately placed among us to stir up the situation and instigate violence.

The police used this opportunity as an excuse to beat us even more brutally and lob more tear gas. They even threw stones of their own at us, and injured a few of us very badly.

Things came to a head when the SP was hit on the head (no pun intended) with a large rock. The police came charging into the woods like a wave of black, screaming and clashing their batons against the trees. We had no choice but to disperse and only around 20 of us managed to head up north to the judges' colony. When we got there, we found a "welcoming committee" in the form of around 300+ policemen waiting for us. We were surrounded before we knew it. Despite this we refused to wait quietly. We continued with our slogans and one of us stood up and, in front of the entire gathered "crowd" gave a speech decrying what had happened.

Then, before we knew it the anti-terrorist squad (yes ladies and gentlemen, the anti-terrorist squad) had grabbed us from behind and shoved us all into a prison bus that had pulled up silently behind.

Even as we were driven to the thana (holding cell), we refused to keep quiet. We yelled our slogans and decried the police every time we saw them.

At the thana, they eventually separated the men and women. When some women who had escaped the protest earlier came to see if we could be released, they too were arrested. They were not doing ANYTHING but inquiring about our release. The women were eventually taken to another thana in the G-7 sector, for women.

They kept us all locked together in a small holding cell (there were around 30 of us) and took away our mobile phones. By this time our families had heard about what had happened and had gathered outside to try and see if we could be released.

Several hours later, an agreement was reached: The students would be released.
Although we objected to this, saying that we wanted everyone released together, we were encouraged to leave and not be "martyrs".

They kept most of those men, some of them over 50+ overnight. That cell had absolutely no heating and a stone floor with only straw mats to sleep on. In winters, temperatures can reach 0 degrees centigrade in the mornings, which is a cause of great concern for those of us who were released. These were men who had been beaten earlier and some needed medical attention. We were told that they would be released by the morning of the 18th.

But I can't blame these policemen. They were only doing their job. They had been ordered to do what they did, as brutal as it was.

What was done on December 17th was only another example of the sheer desperation of the Pakistani government and the brutality it is willing to use against its own citizens. And all this with the emergency lifted and the constitution restored!

So, where does this leave us? At least now we have no illusions: The upcoming elections WILL be rigged and this "emergency" has not been lifted at all.

The excuse of "terrorists in the North" is another farce that has been used time and time again by the Pakistani army to justify its actions. These same militants were spawned BY the army decades ago, just like the Taliban in Afghanistan were by the United States of America. It's the same case of using ones own monster as an excuse to justify these actions.


Anonymous said...

yes, this is how it will be, and the worrying thing to consider for the students, members of civil society, lawyers and others is for how long will we do it? For how long and how many of us? This is just the beginning. What do we do? Street protests are a start, but how will we sustain this? Please share ideas, there should be a strategy for a long movement. No parties will help us, except maybe Imran Khan? What then? What do we do?

MB said...

Who is in power, TERRORIST
Who is in control, TERRORIST

What you can expect from such a system , terror

Anonymous said...

I think one strategy that is not being used is to publish names adresses and email addresses of the civil administration in these cities, One has to understand, the protests are fine but the civil administration and the police are not necessarily immune to " social pressure" it is used in other movments quite effectivley. THe sp and the sho and other civil administration of islamabad lives there too, there kids go to school there too, when they see there names and there families names and psossibly numbers and addresses circulating on the web , it will put some social pressure on them too. I know Islamabad is a small city, SO who is the SHO of that thana, what is his name, how many kids he has, where do they go to school, what do they think there parents are doing, Who is the SP , ssp, what private car they drive, what , these kind of details should not be difficult to obtain and putting thme in the print will increase the social pressure "
Agian this kind of pressure is easier to sustain that " get beat up by the police ( this becomes Unnamed "