The Baloch have faced a sustained onslaught for 65 years against their land and rights by Pakistan. Reko Diq, Saindak, Sui, Chamaling coal mines, Gwadar, Ormara and Chaghai nuclear blast sites are some brazen examples of the attempts to deprive them of their wealth and rights.
Che had dedicated his life to revolution and justice, and his fight against tyranny and injustice transcended geographical boundaries
I have an old Che Guevara poster
commemorating October 8 as the ‘Day of the guerrilla’ with the slogan: “This great humanity has said: ‘Enough’!” Different people look at history and events in conflicting ways; Cuba celebrates October 8 as the day of the guerrilla. The colonisers in the rest of the Americas commemorate it as ‘Columbus Day’, while those who suffered deprivation of their land and rights observe it as the ‘Indigenous People’s Day’. Incidentally, there were some 565 known tribes in the Americas that were dispossessed and disenfranchised in the name of progress and development.
Excerpts of Che’s farewell letter to Fidel Castro and the Cuban people define his persona. He wrote: “I formally renounce my posts in the leadership of the Party, my post as Minister, my rank as Major, my status as a Cuban citizen. Nothing legal binds me to Cuba, only ties of another kind that cannot be broken, as can official appointments.” He added, “Other regions of the world claim the support of my modest efforts. I can do what is forbidden to you because of your responsibility to Cuba, and the time has come for us to separate.” He ended with, “I am not sorry that I leave nothing material to my children and my wife, and this does not grieve me: I am glad that it be so; that I ask nothing for them, since the state will give them sufficient to live and will educate them. To victory forever. Patria o Muerte!”
Che had dedicated his life to revolution and justice, and his fight against tyranny and injustice transcended geographical boundaries. He believed in the right of the people to a peaceful prosperous life, a world with justice for the people. In its pursuance, he had embarked on a mission that saw him in Africa and eventually in Bolivia where, after being wounded in a battle, he was captured on October 8, 1967 and executed the next day. However, his mystique refused to die and inspired millions.
Che strove and died for the downtrodden, for oppressed humanity; he did not forget them even when the end was near. Captured, he was taken to a dilapidated mud schoolhouse in the village of La Higuera. The next day he asked to see Julia Cortez, the village schoolteacher, and pointed out the poor condition of the schoolhouse, stating that it was “anti-pedagogical” to expect campesino (peasant) students to be educated there and declared, “That’s what we are fighting against.”
Although wounded, Che remained unbowed and unafraid and refused to be interrogated by the Bolivian officers. Although his hands were tied, he kicked the Bolivian officer Espinosa into the wall who tried to snatch his pipe. In another instance of defiance, Che spat in the face of the Bolivian Rear Admiral Ugarteche who attempted to question him a few hours before his execution. He was defiant in the face of death because he believed in the justice of the cause he was fighting for. He also fought for the indigenous people because they were and still are the most oppressed in the Americas.
The injustices against the Baloch, Sindhis, Tibetans, Dongrias, Nagas, Kashmiris, Kurds and other nationalities are all committed under the spurious excuse of progress, although the real intention is to deprive them of their land and rights. The injustices committed against the people under bogus excuses will not cease in the Americas or the world at large because states are dominated by the predatory elite, corporations, and, of course, the collaborating indigenous persons, as in Balochistan, who sell their souls for a pittance.
The ‘terra nullius’ principle was and remains the guiding philosophy for all oppressing nations; what they cannot get by guile like they used to in the past, they now take with brute force. Peter Minuit was made the director-general by the Dutch West India Company of Manhattan in 1625. To legitimise the European occupation of Manhattan, he called together its owners, the Lenape Indian tribe sachems (paramount chiefs) on May 24, 1626, and persuaded them to sell the entire island for a handful of merchandise, mostly trinkets, worth only 60 guilders ($ 24). The Lenape Indians, unfamiliar with Europeans concepts and guile, believed that water, air and land could not be traded but were deprived of their land. In contrast, the Dakotans resisted and were hunted out of their land. As the people can no longer be fooled with trinkets, all occupying states invoking the ‘internal matter’ excuses employ unbridled force with impunity.
The Baloch have faced a sustained onslaught for 65 years against their land and rights by Pakistan. Reko Diq, Saindak, Sui, Chamaling coal mines, Gwadar, Ormara and Chaghai nuclear blast sites are some brazen examples of the attempts to deprive them of their wealth and rights. The Baloch have been resisting the government’s attempts to deprive them of their rights and resources first in the name of Islam and then ‘Pakistani national interest’. The Baloch find it difficult to identify with this national interest because they as a nation have a different political and social ethos and have resisted in spite of continued suppression combined with the bribing of acquiescent Sardars who try to soften up the people for submission and surrender.
The Dongria Kondh tribespeople of the Niyamgiri Hills, Orissa, believe their hills are the home of their God, Niyam Raja. Moreover, they rely on the land for their crops and livelihood but their misfortune is the bauxite found there. Vedanta Aluminium Ltd wants to put up a huge aluminum plant. For this plant alone more than 120,000 trees would be felled. States too do not lag behind, as China’s exploitation of Saindak and Aynak copper mines prove such examples abound. The conglomerates and the states bothered merely about profits connive to loot the people remorselessly.
The slogan: “This great humanity has said: “Enough” on Che Guevara’s poster needs to be made the rallying cry for all the oppressed nations whether they have representation or not at the ‘Unrepresented Nations and Peoples’ Organisation’ (UNPO). Incidentally, Balochistan and Sindh are represented because in tyrannical states all suffer but none suffer like the oppressed nations. The people need to unite to make this slogan a reality and put a stop to the oppression and exploitation of suppressed nations that goes on under flimsy excuses of national integrity and interest. The people of the world need to say ‘enough’ to all injustices.
The writer has an association with the Baloch rights movement going back to the early 1970s. He tweets at mmatalpur and can be contacted at [email protected]