As we have reported previously, comrades in Pakistan have faced repression for their role in the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. Now a new wave of arrests have been made, with one comrade in particular - Rawal Asad - singled out.
We call on all our readers and supporters to mobilise internationally to campaign for Rawal's release, and for the charges to be dropped. The energetic campaign run internationally last year to free arrested comrades in Pakistan played an important part in their release. We must do the same again now.
Actions to take:
- Sign and share the petition.
- Attend the solidarity picket outside the London Pakistan High Commission (SW1X 9JN) tomorrow, Wednesday 20th February, at 1PM. Share the Facebook event widely.
- Send the model letter below to the Pakistan High Commissioner in the UK, as well as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Pakistan (addresses are included in the letter).
- Call the Pakistan High Commissioner (020 7644 9227) and demand to know when Rawal Asad will be released.
- Share the campaign page on social media and ask others to take action.
Last week, on 11th February 2019, the Pakistani state police cracked down on Progressive Youth Alliance students and arrested activists from their Multan office. The Pakistan police is well known for its unlawful arrests, brutality, and killings of innocent people.
Numberous charges were made, including sedition. Others managed to get pre-arrest bail. But Rawal Asad is still held in jail. There is a threat that the state police will torture him and hold him forever. His only 'crime' is that he is an activist who is trying to organise students and workers against injustices by university officials, employers and state institutions.
The activists were arrested immediately after joining a solidarity protest called by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in Multan. They were protesting the killing of one of the PTM's leaders, Arman Luni, who was a college professor. Arman was tortured a few days earlier by a police officer, and he died as a result of the injuries he sustained.
Rawal Asad is an undergraduate student and political activist at Government Emerson College in Multan. From his time at high school he has been involved in protests against fee hikes, for the restoration of student unions, and on many other student-related issues. Currently, he is active in the labour movement, always at the forefront of labour struggles and workers’ protests. He has fought against healthcare privatisation, against the non-payment of wages to workers, and on many other issues.
But in Pakistan, raising your voice against injustice has become a serious crime, and culprits are now being tried on sedition charges.
The Pakistani bosses and state have extensively used colonial era laws to oppress workers, students, and trade unionists. And the police are one of the most corrupt and brutal institutions of all.
Numerous protests were held for Arman Luni. But most of those arrested were released immediately without any serious charges. The state is terrified that activists like Rawal Asad, however, can direct the anger that exists and lead students and workers against the state institutions and their brutalities and oppression.
That is why Rawal is being victimised and may face a draconian prison sentence. Today his application for bail was rejected, and comrades are campaigning for his release in Pakistan and internationally.
This case has made evident once again that the whole system is rotten to the core. And yet the ruling class wants to preserve it at any cost. Dissent is being banned and organisations fighting for the rights of workers and the poor are being stifled to death.
But we will fight this brutality to the end and refuse to bow down to oppression. Once again, we appeal to workers and youth internationally to support us in this cause.
- An injury to one is an injury to all!
- Release Rawal Asad!
- Free education and healthcare for all!
- Workers of the world, unite!
Demand Rawal's release!
Messages demanding the immediate release of Rawal should also be sent to the PTUSC, and to the UK Pakistan High Commissioner, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Ministry of Interior in Islamabad (a draft text is available below).
To: The High Commissioner for Pakistan London
Mohammad Nafees Zakaria
34-36 Lowndes Square, London, SW1X 9JN
Phone: 020 7664 9227
CC: Prime Minister of Pakistan
Shahis Khakan Abbasi
Address: P.M Secretariat, Constitution Avenue, G-5/2, Islamabad
Phone: (+92-51) 9222666,
CC: Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan
Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa
Supreme Court of Pakistan, Constitution Avenue, G-5/2 Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone: +92 51 92 20 581-600
[ ] February 2019
Release Rawal Asad from the police jail in Multan
To whom it may concern,
I would like to bring to your attention that the police in Multan city has arrested on trumped up charges on a student leader and activist Rawal Asad on 11 February 2019. His only crime was that he was attending a Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement rally organised against the murder of Professor Arman Loni in Loralai Baluchistan.
Rawal is being held in prison for an indefinite period with unnecessary court delays. He has therefore been denied bail and is being falsely detained.
We in our [INSERT ORGANISATION NAME] condemn this act of brutality against social activists in Pakistan and demand the immediate release of Rawal Asad from prison. The false charges being made against him, including sedition, must be dropped.
We will be waiting for your cooperative response.
This branch notes:
Rawal Asad is a senior figure of the Progressive Youth Alliance Pakistan and a social activist.
He is an undergraduate student at Government Emerson College in Multan.
Since he was a high school student, he has been involved in protests against fee hikes, for the restoration of student unions, and many other student-related issues. Currently, he is active in the labour movement, always at the forefront of labour struggles and workers’ protests. He has fought against healthcare privatisation, against the non-payment of wages to workers, and on many other issues.
On 11 February 2019, he along with his friends, were sitting in the Progressive Youth Alliance office in Multan when the state police cracked down on them and made arrests. This was also reported in the mainstream media.
The attest was made on the basis that he had spoken at a rally organised by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) in Multan. People in the rally were protesting peacefully against police brutality and the murder of one of their senior members, Professor Arman Loni, in Loralai district of Baluchistan Province.
Rawal Asad was charged with sedition along with others on the basis that he spoke against this state brutality.
Rawal Asad is currently held in a police lockup, and they are delaying his procedures for unknown reasons.
This branch believes:
In Pakistan, raising your voice against injustice has become a crime of such a seriousness that culprits are now being tried on sedition charges. On the other hand, the state is helping and supporting terrorists who are butchering and murdering ordinary people through suicide bombings.
Police and security forces in Pakistan are famous for brutalising and torturing people in their custody.
The sedition law is an old colonial law enacted to stop dissent against state brutalities. Many activists have been tried and murdered by the state governments through this colonial law.
Rawal Asad was arrested and is being continuously victimised by the state police and judiciary system because of his social activism and fighting for the right of oppressed people.
This branch resolves:
To demand the immediate release of Rawal Asad from police jail.
End all charges against him, in particular the charge of sedition.
To recognise that the struggle of Rawal Asad is the same struggle of all students and workers
To write to Pakistan’s High Commission London, Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Chief Justice of Pakistan to stop victimising Rawal Asad, to release him immediately, and to drop all charges against him.