Manchester, UK: In a blatant assault on freedom of speech, the Greater Manchester police on Sunday stop an aerial advertisement calling for to “End Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan” and “Justice for Balochistan” during yesterdays India vs Pakistan world cup clash.
The plane carrying the banners was intercepted mid-air and was asked to cancel its planned flight over the Old Trafford Stadium where arch-rivals India & Pakistan were playing the most anticipated World Cup Cricket Match.
The advertisement company calls the censorship by the Greater Manchester Police “siding with persecution of the people of Balochistan. “The company in a series of tweets termed it “overstepping the mark” and termed it an attack on freedom of speech and expression saying the GM Police cannot decide on “what messages can and can’t be towed”.
This comes as part of an ongoing awareness campaign by Baloch human rights campaigners calling for an end to gross human rights abuses in Pakistan, especially enforced disappearances of Baloch, Pashtun, Sindhi, Mohajir and other ethnic & religious minorities by the state authorities.
Baloch Republican Party and World Baloch Organization have recently jointly launched a campaign in the UK with the tagline End Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan. According to the official figures, there have been 5000 cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan since early 2000. Unofficial estimates are much higher, up to 20 thousands cases in Balochistan alone, by various human rights groups.
The organizers have termed the crackdown by GM Police “shocking” and “against values of civilized countries like the UK”. Bhawal Mengal, representative of the WBO, said such an attack on human rights campaigns and freedom of speech “is against the values this country stands for, this will not deter us from our quest for justice”.
A spokesman of the BRP said “the Greater Manchester Police must review its decision of curbing freedom of speech” which might “encourage states like Pakistan with a terrible human rights record to continue human rights abuses with impunity.”
However campaigners were successful at marketing entry and exit points of the stadium holding the event with similar slogans, urging visitors at a much anticipated match to play their part to help end enforced disappearances in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the advertisement company has raised a legal complaint at the Greater Mancherster high court in an attempt to overturn the decision made by GM Police hindering a human rights advert and freedom of speech.
The WBO and the BRP are non-violent and democratic organisations led by Baloch individuals, dedicated to raising awareness of the dire situation of human rights in Balochistan.