Thais Break up Baloch Meeting: What Happened?
Last week, about 100 people were to gather in Bangkok for a conference about the Baloch--what is happening to that people and what can be done about it. The meeting never happened. There have been suggestions that the Chinese were behind the action, as part of its protecting the Chinese-Pakistan Economic Corridor; and in speaking with Thai and American insiders, I was told that Chinese influence there is huge and growing. Pakistani ISI involvement also has been alleged, and it would not be unusual for the Pakistanis to attack the Baloch. To whatever extent the Chinese and Pakistanis were involved, ultimate responsibility for this undemocratic action is Thailand's. Freedom House classifies Thailand as "not free," and it is only because of this lack of democratic guarantees that the Thai authorities could act as they did.
I was to be a keynote speaker, but when my flight arrived at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport, no one greeted me as arranged, and all my communications were met with silence. I took a cab to the hotel, and as it was late, retired and resumed my attempted contacts in the morning. After more silence, I went downstairs for breakfast; where I was accosted by associates who told me that Thai police broke up the conference, and arrested and deported the organizer Munir Mengal. I replied that we all came out here for the Baloch and had to make the trip worthwhile for them.
We began meeting, but Thai authorities and the hotel (which we are told was Chinese affiliated) continued with ongoing harassment. Internet access was blocked; we were roused and told to pay our bills in advance or face arrest, and the police maintained a threatening presence. Before the first day ended, all but five of the conference attendees fled, leaving myself, Dr. Robert Darius, Reza Hosseinbor, Sylvia Russell, and Claudia Wadlich to carry on the struggle; which we did. After several meetings, we arrived at a number of fruitful conclusions about unity among Baloch factions, bringing the Baloch case before national and international bodies, and the illegality of Balochistan's occupation. We also agreed to form an NGO/Think Tank for the purpose of gathering, validating, and strategically disseminating evidence of human rights violations against the Baloch by the occupying powers.
As we are fully committed to a free and independent Balochistan, we are convinced that objective evidence brought to the right bodies will expose the decades-long injustice against this people and result in action on their behalf. We understand there are important roles in the struggle for Baloch living in the homeland, expatriate Baloch, and friends of the Baloch. In that last category, Claudia Wadlich and I are passionate in our love of our Baloch brothers and sisters, and want all Baloch to know that we are with them in their struggle.