Filipino, other Asian activists call on Pakistan government for release of fisherfolk leader Saeed Baloch
MANILA, 2 February 2016 – Filipino activists protested today outside the Pakistan embassy in the Philippines , joining Asian and other activists across the world in demanding the immediate release of fisherfolk leader Saeed Baloch.
Baloch is the secretary general of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), a movement across four million fisherfolk communities in Pakistan and a long-time member of the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD). A noted human rights activist, labor unionist and movement leader, he was unjustly held for questioning by paramilitary forces last January 16 in Karachi and has been detained since, allegedly for financing gang wars in the Sindh provincial capital.
APMDD joined its members the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Focus on the Global South, and Sanlakas, as well as its allies NGO Forum on ADB, Aniban ng Mangagawang Agrikultura, Alyansa Tigil Mina, and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa sa Maralitang ng Lungsod in the demonstration in Makati City. Representatives also delivered the groups' calls to Pakistani embassy officials.
The groups endorsed the APMDD statement  dated January 19 which condemned the unjust arrest of Baloch by the Pakistan Rangers and demanded his immediate release.
According to Mustafa Gurgaze, PFF programmes manager, the Sindh High Court was supposed to hear Baloch’s case yesterday, but it was postponed because of medical reasons of one of the two judges. The hearing has yet to be rescheduled as of press time.
Meanwhile, the Rangers produced Baloch and three others before the Anti-Terrorism Court last Tuesday, January 26, and declared his preventive detention for 90 days under the anti-terrorism act. The paramilitary troops declared that they have arrested him and other officials of the Fisherfolk Cooperative Society allegedly for assisting gangsters in the Liyari area of Karachi. But no evidence has been produced, and the remand was dated last January 26 even though he was arrested in January 16.
“While it is good Saeed has been surfaced, it is terrible news that his arrest has been legitimized by this court and that he has been remanded for 90 days,” said Lidy Nacpil, APMDD coordinator, from Manila. "We condemn his unjust arrest and demand his immediate release."
Members and allies of APMDD have also sent the statement in Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the United States, among others. A similar mobilization was also held by activists in Sri Lanka.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
 Pictures of the Manila mobilization can be found at http://bit.ly/1UDAN9s
 The full APMDD statement can be found at http://bit.ly/1P0WDC0
The Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (formerly Jubilee South–Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development) is a regional alliance of peoples' movements and organizations, coalitions, and NGOs. Sanlakas is a political partylist, Aniban ng Mangagawang Agrikultura is an alliance of agricultural workers, Alyansa Tigil Mina is an anti-mining alliance, and Kongreso ng Pagkakaisa sa Maralitang ng Lungsod is an urban poor congress, all based in the Philippines.