Still holding on with pride
by Farooq Tariq
http://www.laborpakistan.org

Yesterday on 21st August, finally, I was able to visit the district I was banned to enter for three months by Punjab government. At Okara, I visited the three most combating villages chack 4/4/4l, 10/4/4l and 5/4/4l. the military farm management Okara with the help of rangers and police used all sort of repressive measures to force the tenants to pay the ‘Theka’ the contact amount. The 19 villages were surrounded for three months from May to July 2003, by the state forces. No one was allowed to get in the villages. Relatives of the tenants were picked up from different areas and the military farms management demanded the ransom amount in the shape of the Theka. But the leadership of Anjaman Mozareen Punjab refused to accept the pressure and asked the tenants not to pay and continue the movement of civil disobedience.

The mood at the villages was of defianice and full of confidence. They were happy that this time it is the sate forces that have retreated for the time being. The rangers are no more in the open as was the case during the last three months. Most of the arrested leaders have been released on bail. And above all, they have made no open or secret compromise with the military farms management and stick to their original demand of the ownership of the land they are cultivating for over 100 years.

They were happy with the support of Labour Party Pakistan and the civil rights organization in this struggle. They were pleased to see the press statements of Asma Jehangir and mine in their favor. They had a lot of respect for advocates of Lahore who have given them maximum free legal aid successfully. They were surprise to see the international support generated for them by different governments and non government organizations, trade unions and progressive parties. They told me that we have won a battle but not the war. We are ready for future battles.

They were happy that now general Musharaf have openly attacked their right of ownership. ‘It shows the penetration of our issue to the top ranks of the ruling class. They are worried what to do about this militant tenant movement unseen in the history of Pakistan’ said David zahid, district secretary of amp.

The leadership is taking no chance in defending themselves. There are round the clock barricades outside the villages’ entrances watched by the young generation of the villages. Red flags are flying high on the roof tops of these revolting villages. There will more of them on 24th august, when the first death anniversary of Selman Patras will be observed at chack 10/4/4l. Rasool Buksh Paleejo, Karamat Ali, Irfan Mufti and Yousaf Baluch will be some of the guests attending this important protest rally. Thousands of tenants are expected to attend this rally. 23 years old Selman was killed on 24th August last year by the rangers during a demonstration.

Labour Party Pakistan will be holding a protest rally at Lahore on 24th August at Shimla Pehari at 4pm to commemorate the death of Selman. Another such rally is also planned at Khanewal district by AMP.
Come and join these rallies if you are around.

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