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    Tuesday, 23 January 2018

    Fisherfolk strike protests eviction, excesses

    A strike was observed in the coastal areas and the areas along rivers and lakes of Sindh on the call of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) protesting against the sale of the twin islands off Karachi and the forced eviction of fishermen by security forces personnel from there, said a PFF spokesman.
    The spokesman said the fishermen living in the coastal areas of Hawkesbay, Keamari, Gizri, Mubarak Village and Karachi Fish Harbour observed a black day on Monday and staged demonstrations.
    Scores of fishermen in Mauripur took out a rally, which culminated at main Mauripur Road where the participants staged a sit-in and their leaders spoke against the government for what they called the state’s atrocities against the fishing community.
    All bazaars remained closed and traffic was off the streets in Ibrahim Hyderi, the largest settlement of fishermen in Karachi.
    Wearing black bands, the fishermen kept their boats ashore while angry youth burnt tyres on shore, markets and the main areas. They chanted slogans against the sale of Bundoo and Bundial islands and the forced eviction of their community living there. A PFF spokesman said there were skirmishes between angry fisherfolk and the police at some places.
    Fishermen took out a rally from Ibrahim Hyderi’s main chowk, which culminated at the main road near the Water Pump in PAF area.
    The protestors holding placards and banners inscribed with slogans reflecting their demands chanted slogans against the forced eviction of fisherfolk community and the sale of the twin islands.
    PFF chairman Mohammad Ali Shah in a public meeting at Sachchal Hall accccused the government of violating the fisherfolk community’s human rights who had been living on the twin islands for centuries. He said the issue had shocked not only the fishing community but the people of Sindh.
    The chief minister has failed to protect the lands and rights of Sindh and should resign he demanded. Mr Shah said army personnel had razed the fishermen’s houses, tortured and forced them off the twin islands at gunpoint to pave the way for foreign investors to develop their own haven.
    The PFF, he said, would hold an all-parties conference on December 20 on the issue andconvene a fisherfolk assembly on December 28. We’ll also hold rallies and hunger strikes in Islamabad and Lahore, he vowed.
    Veteran politician Shafi Mohammad Jamote said the federal and provincial governments had done nothing despite making promises with the fisherfolk’s representatives that such schemes would be finalised only after taking all stakeholders in confidence.
    He demanded of the federal and provincial authorities to remove fishermen’s fears and suspicions vis-à-vis the issue before the situation worsened.
    A PFF spokesman said similar protests were held in the coastal areas of Thatta and Badin and lakes of Manchar, Keenjhar and other wetlands of Sindh.

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