Fishing activist held

Fishing activist held

There have been international protests over the arrest and detention of Saeeed Baloch, general secretary of the Pakistani Fisherfolk Forum.

He is reported to have been arrested on the 16th of January and the authorities denied for a week that he was in custody, until he was presented before the Sindh High Court on the 26th of January where the Pakistan Rangers claimed to have credible evidence of his involvement in extortion and offences that come under prevention of terrorism legislation. A Rangers’ spokesman later conformed that he had been arrested on the 25 of last month at the Kalri police station.

Saeed Baloch has been an energetic activist for environmental and human rights causes, including making public government plans to locate two nuclear power stations in vulnerable coastal regions. He has openly opposed the activities of Chinese fishing vessels in Pakistani waters.

As general secretary of the PFF, he has played a key role in governance of small-scale fisheries and the protection of Human Rights of fisher people both in Pakistan and in other parts of the world. As a leading member of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples, the PFF has played a central role in the development of United Nations legal instruments, including the International Guidelines on Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries and the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas (currently negotiated by a working group established by the United Nations Human Rights Council).

According the the Asian Human Rights Commission, local and international media have focused on the case and an extensive protest on 26th January was broadcast live.

An online petition for his release, addressed to the prime minister of Pakistan, is being circulated.