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The Baloch should have allies across the world – John McDonnell

The Baloch should have allies across the world – John McDonnell
The Baloch should have allies across the world – John McDonnell

John McDonnell John (born 8 September 1951) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Hayes and Harlington since 1997 has lived in Hayes & Harlington for over 40 years. Married with three children, John has always served the community in his role as the MP, local GLC councillor, and founder and member of numerous local community organisations working to improve the quality of life for everyone living in Hayes & Harlington. Since being elected MP for Hayes & Harlington in 1997 he has gained a reputation for his hard work on behalf of local people, pioneering the role of a community MP, and for his honesty and integrity. He concentrates on working tirelessly within our community, supporting local residents to tackle the issues that are of concern to us all.

John is among those British politicians who stands for political and moral principles and has opposed the decisions of his own party leadership on many occasions. He is also among the rare members of parliament who openly praised the armed resistance of Irish Republican Army (IRA). In 2003 Mr McDonnel sparked controversy after he called to honour the bravery of IRA fighters in these words: “It’s about time we started honouring those people involved in the armed struggle. It was the bombs and bullets and sacrifice made by the likes of Bobby Sands that brought Britain to the negotiating table. The peace we have now is due to the action of the IRA.”

In 2015 the Balochistan based Humgaam Magazine interview Mr McDonnell about Balochistan situation and Baloch struggle. 

Q – In West, many people don’t know about Balochistan, how did you first hear about Balochistan and its political situation?

A – I first heard about the situation because I was approached by constituents who were concerned and wanted to draw to my attention the oppression that was taking place, the role that Pakistan was playing and the need for this to be be exposed in the British Parliament because there was so little coverage in the British Media or any debate in this country.

Q – In 2007, you were the only person in the British Parliament who raised the voice against your own government when they proscribed the Baloch Liberation Army as a terrorist organisation. Why did you raise your voice against it and what was the interest of the UK in banning a secular resistance organisation?

A – I expressed my concerns because I felt that the British government was acting at the behest of the Pakistani government against a group that was simply fighting, campaigning and struggling for the basic human rights and the right to self-determination. So I thought it was unjust and for that reason I felt it was important that at least there should be some voice in the Parliament raised against this measure. And the reason that people respect British democracy is because we do not, usually, go about banning organisations that are simply campaigning for basic civil liberties. And again the interest of the UK government was to appease the Pakistani government and the British government consistently now banned organisations and described them as terrorists on basis of simply trying to suppress organisations that are campaigning within countries for human rights – in countries that they consider allies and in my view I think this is extremely short sighted in our relationship with Pakistan.

Q – Mr Hyrbyair Marri was arrested and detained on behest of Pakistan during labour government. What was reason that labour government had colluded with Pakistani state to prosecute a popular Baloch leader?

A – The UK government has always been anxious not be associated in anyway with supporting or harbouring what other countries will describe as terrorists so it is easy for a government like Pakistan to come along, to basically tell lies, about individuals or organisations, convince the UK government that they are in some associated with terrorism or that their struggle is one that involves violence and criminality and on that basis they are able to convince the UK government, basically, to take action against that individual. There has been too many occasions whereby the UK government has rushed to judgements on the basis of false information provided by a foreign state and as a result there has been a consistent number of miscarriage of justice whereby people have been detained or persecuted on the basis of false information provided by a supposed ally goverment.

Q – British Government did condemn the human rights violation in Syria, Iraq and other countries but why they are still silence and ignoring human rights violations committed by Pakistan against Baloch nation?

A – The UK government has been consistently selective in who they will condemn for human rights violations and they are selective on the basis of the allies that it wants to make across the world. The British government sees Pakistan a key ally in that particular region and on that basis won’t take any action or make any statement that will undermine their relationship with Pakistan. I think it is extremely short sighted and all it does is it gives succour and comfort and encouragement to Pakistan perpetrating human rights abuses against Baloch nation and Baloch people. On that basis I think British government has made a fundamental error of judgement.

Q – Pakistan is set to receive £1.17bn in support from the UK between 2011 and 2015, making it one of the largest recipients of bilateral aid. Do you support this policy that theocratic states, those are corrupt and involved in human rights violation should be supported by tax payers’ money?

A – There are real concerns about any UK aid going to regimes that abuse human rights, Pakistan is one of those regimes, and consistently now the MPs have been raising concerns about the supply of aid to the Pakistani government and the Pakistani regime and we are particularly concern about how that aid is being used and distributed. There is issues around corruption and there is also the issue around why any funding should be going to a regime that is abusing human rights and also wasting its own resources on heavily investments in its own military which in those military are then used against human rights of the Baloch people, so there are real concerns now about the human rights abuses and the link to aid that’s been provided by the UK government in Pakistan. It is one of those issues that has been consistently raised. There is also the issue whether there should be any aid going from state to state if aid is going that should actually go to individual organisations and civil society rather than to a particular state.

Q – Enforced disappearance is one of the tools, which Pakistan is using at its best to oppress the [Baloch] struggle. According to Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, 14000 people were disappeared by state forces and more than 1300 have been killed. In the past, western democracies took this particular case very seriously, for example in the case of Argentina. But we cannot see the same response by the Europe and United States, in the case of Balochistan. What do you think, what are the international and national factors of this ignorance?

A – Because of the instability in both Pakistan and also obviously the war in Afghanistan the UK government has worked on the basis that it wants Pakistan as an ally in its war against the Taliban and on that basis it has not sought to any way upset or alienate Pakistan government and its turned a blind to human rights abuses by the Pakistani government and Pakistan military in particular that is why we hear so little both in Parliament from government minister and also in the British media about the number of  disappearances of the Baloch missing persons and also the numbers that have been killed. It is the job of MPs like me now in the coming period to make sure that we are raising the profile of that issue and that’s what I’ll be doing when parliament resumes in September by trying to raise more questions and enter into a debates about this particular issue but there has sadly been a cover up by both Pakistani and the UK government colluding in denying this information to the general public in this country. I think people in Britain would be extremely concerned – in fact I think they will be very very angry that here we have the UK government associating itself with the Pakistani government that is allowing this perpetrator of human rights abuses in such scale and if we can bring to the attention of the British public I think there will be a reaction and there will be pressure put upon the UK government to change its relationship with Pakistan and exert more pressure.  The investigation of the individual cases is important as well, particularly the disappearances and the killings. What we need now is an independent exercise undertaken possibly using the UN or other international organisations to verify the scale of the disappearances and the killings and to sort out the information with regards to the perpetrators as well. In many ways what we want now is to bring before the international court the perpetrator of these appalling abuses of human rights.

Q – In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran women have been oppressed and their social and political rights are not accepted yet. On the other hand in the same region, Balochistan is place where women are playing a unique and vital role in the Baloch democratic struggle. What do you think how it will affect and influence the region and an Independent Balochistan?

A – The struggle for an independent Balochistan has been demonstrated to be fundamentally about equality between both sexes as well as equality between peoples. The struggle itself and the role that women are playing has demonstrated that actually this a struggle for independence that is biased upon equality overall and the role that women have played has exemplified the important role that women play in society overall and it has been a good example of how the use of women’s power has shaped the movement itself, particularly in showing that in any future development of an independent Balochistan that there is fundamental equality, social and political rights.  Again we have to pay tribute to the women in the struggle that have undertaken and contribution that they have made.

Q – What is your message to the pro-independence activists and Baloch nation?

A – The most important thing now is recognise that their struggle is just. That they have allies across the world. Their stories of the oppression that they have experienced have not yet been told properly within Western European countries but I think an issue that day is coming and that I will do all can to ensure that we expose the suffering that has been taking place and oppression that has been undertaken by the Pakistani government. And the ability now that the Baloch nation has to come forward and determine its own future – in other words self-determination.

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