Lashore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concern over the administration denying peasants associated with Anjuman Muzareen Punjab (AMP) their right to peaceful protest and holding a convention aimed at drawing attention to the long struggle for their right to the land they have been cultivating for decades.
In a statement issued on Monday, HRCP said that the Okara district administration disallowing a planned peasants’ convention on Sunday, on the occasion of International Peasants’ Day, and banning assembly of five or more people appeared to be a ploy aimed at clamping down on dissent and to prevent the peasants from joining hands to raise their issues.
The Commission said: “Employing strong-arm tactics and using the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism to crack down on the peasants pressing for land rights and a fairer distribution of agricultural resources appears to be aimed at pushing the peasants against the wall for demanding their rights.
“HRCP strongly advises the government against employing harsh and authoritarian actions, and throwing the book at the peasants. It calls for the authorities to engage the peasants in constructive talks to find a solution to the prolonged wrangling between the AMP peasants and the military, which claims entitlement to the land AMP peasants have been tilling for generations. In any case, HRCP strongly urges the authorities not to deal with the peasants under the anti-terrorism framework and to respect their right to peaceful protest and the freedom of assembly.”