Tuesday, March 4, 2008

AJI Hunger Strike in Islamabad: Account

The hunger strike by two leaders of Awami Jamhoori Ittehad in Islamabad has now entered the third day. Iqbal Bali and Jahangir Akhter have been on hunger strike to protest the illegal incarceration of the children of Chief Justice Iftikhar. They are sitting in a camp in front of the Marriott Hotel, Islamabad, near the Judges colony, and have vowed to end their strike only at the hands of Justice Iftikhar's youngest son, Balach.

Today, they marched with other protesters to the police barrier at the entrance to the judges colony, and unsuccessfully tried to cut the heavy roll of barbed wires. Even a jeep could not pull the wires away. The protestes remained at the barrier for over an hour, raising slogans.

Yesterday, Justice retired Tariq Mahmood visited the camp, stayed with the protesters for quite some time, and addressed the gathering.

Both the hunger strikers are old in age. Iqbal Bali is sevety six, and Jahangir Akhter 65. Jahangir suffers from sugar and kidney problems, while Iqbal is a heart patient. But both of them are determined to continue with the strike, although the strike has started to have a visible toll on their health.

Others will join them in the strike, some for a symbollic 24 hour hunger strike, others for a 48 hour strike, while these two have vowed to continue until death or release of Iftikhar Choudhry's children, whichever comes sooner.

Protesters in other cities might like to consider also sitting on symbollic hunger strike for 24 or 48 or longer durations to express solidarity with Jahangir and Iqbal.

A. H. Nayyar

Senior Research Fellow, Sustainable Development Policy Institute

#3, UN Boulevard, Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad

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