Sindh Sabha members and the families of “missing persons” have begun their hunger strike in front of Hyderabad Press Club in Pakistan against violence and arrest of Long March participants. The 1,412 km Long March from Karachi to the headquarters of Pakistan Army at GHQ, Rawalpindi started on November 10 from Karachi under the banner of Sindh Sabha. Women, children and elderly had been walking towards the headquarters of Pakistan Army to press for their demand to release the “Missing Persons”, who have been abducted from Balochistan and Sindh.
However, a week ago, dozens of police vans of the Ghotki District Police prevented the Long March participants from crossing the Sindh border and enter Punjab province in Pakistan. The Ghotki Police did not want Long March participants to reach Rawalpindi and did not let them cross the Sindh border. Left with no choice the participants of Long March staged a sit-in on the National Highway. Thereafter the Pakistani Police and their Rangers violently attacked this peaceful sit-in on December 29 and several leaders were arrested.
Sindh Sabha and the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh called for a nationwide protest against the arrest of participants which was followed by protests in different cities. “A large number of women participating in the protest are now on a hunger strike. Four people are on hunger strike till death,” said a Sindh Sabha leader.
The Long March participants have demanded that Sindh Sabha leaders be released along with the missing persons.
“We were protesting peacefully for the recovery of missing persons in Sindh, but the peaceful march was stopped by force and our leaders were unjustifiably arrested,” said a Long March protester who is now on hunger strike till death.
The Sindhi and Baloch people had been protesting for the release of their “Missing” family members for several years but none of the Pakistani authorities listened to them. Family members and friends of these “Missing Persons” were left with no other option but to walk from Karachi to Rawalpindi to plead for the release of their loved ones.
The Long March participants had announced that they would protest in front of the Pakistan Army Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi and demand for the release of their family members abducted forcibly by the Pakistan Army.
As the women, children and elderly marched on foot braving extreme cold and harsh weather conditions they garnered enormous support from Sindhi, Baloch and Pashtuns. This worried the Pakistani generals who then resorted to threats and instructed the Ghotki Police to attack the Sindh Sabha Long March convoy.