|72 Bonded Labor Persons Still on Protest at Press Club Hyderabad After Seventh Day of|
Receiving No Relief, No Food, Water or Shelter
Photo Courtesy of Advocate Veerji Kolhi
In the past month IUFE has reported on cases concerning Bonded Labor. Some of the issues that have been reported include the Destruction of Hindu Villages and Shrines , Open fire on newly freed Bonded Labor victims, The Rape and impregnation of a 14 year old girl, Death threats against Advocate Veerji Kolhi and the 72 Victims of Bonded Labor that were recently freed by order of the High Court of Sindh. All of these incidents can be read about on this blog. IUFE's Executive Director, Zemira Eli Natan has been featured in interviews with Vlad Tepes to describe some of these incidents and inform the International Community of issues that need to be addressed. In a recent discussion with a Pakistani University Student, Ghulam Hussain Mehesar, who claims to be social worker conducting a case study on the Kolhi Bonded Laborers and other Dalits in the region it was advised that the Pakistani Government is not intentionally starving the Hindu Bonded laborers to death, that Advocate Verji Kolhi is spending too much time focusing on his political influence rather than finding ways to provide his people with long term provisions of food, water and shelter and educating his people for the purpose of creating opportunities for them to be self sufficient. No one has ever seen Mr. Mehesar's case study nor has Advocate Veerji Kolhi received any knowledge or information that this case study was being conducted by Mr. Mehesar on his people. Mr. Mehesar would like to advise those he corresponds with that it is the responsibility of Advocate Veerji Kolhi to carry on these efforts with no support from the government. IUFE disputes this claim on the following grounds. First, when Bonded Laborers are released under the Bonded Labor Abolition Act of 1992, Criminal Procedure Code Section 491 the Landlords are well aware that this law protects them from being responsible for providing for the basic needs of Bonded Laborers once they are freed. Why? Because, according to Advocate Veerji Kolhi there is $20 Million Pakistani Rupees invested for Government Welfare agencies who are responsible to provide for the needs of newly freed Bonded Laborers. The Bonded Laborers who often endure years of hard labor under threat of death and/ or Torture and Rape which is often carried out, confiscation of personal possessions and animals are expected to without any rights, without the ability to clearly understand the true terms of their debt, and without food , water or shelter fend for themselves . Second, in the case of the 72 victims that Advocate Veerji Kolhi is still addressing in court, the 72 victims were threatened with open fire if they return to their native villages in Nagarparkar. They are also under threat of abduction if they return to their own villages there. It has taken more than 4 days for Selani Welfare Foundation to present the victims simply with water bottles and cool fruit drinks but no food. They are temporarily housed at the Hyderabad Press Club and given breakfast and dinner. This arrangement is only temporary, however. What will be done for them in the long term. Mr. Mehesar should be very aware that despite his claims that these Bonded Laborers are being provided for by the Government Welfare agencies and that they are not being starved to death that only the opposite has occurred. Only minimal assistance has really been provided and only for a temporary period of time. And finally, it is not Advocate Veerji Kolhi's responsibility to provide for every need! It is the responsibility of the government who refuse to enforce laws upon the Landlords who abuse Bonded Laborers! Does Mr. Mehesar realize that Advocate Veerji Kolhi personally out of his own expenses provided ONE YEAR of Food , Shelter and Rehabilitation efforts for eligible Bonded Laborers? How much do the Pakistani Social Workers think Advocate Veerji Kolhi can focus on alone? It must also be made clear that by his own statement, Advocate Veerji Kolhi is working in the political arena for SOCIAL CHANGE! That means , putting an end to the practice of Bonded Labor and compensating the victims for years of Harassment , Death Threats, personal injury through torture, rape and confiscation of personal possessions and animals. Advocate Veerji Kolhi is actively involved in working to change laws that favor the Landlords who are exploiting Bonded Laborers to their advantage in addition to every aspect of their rehabilitation and provisions. This statement by IUFE has been written to clarify any misunderstandings that have arisen as a result of the reports on this case and others that are featured on this blog and to set the record straight. IUFE also contends that Mr. Ghulam Hussain Mehesar is a University student and has not earned his graduate degree in Sociology or Social Work which renders him NOT a professional in this field at this time. IUFE would like to see a copy of the Case Study that has been conducted on the Kolhi's plight so that it can be confirmed that any information submitted on such a report is accurate.
IUFE CONTINUES TO DEMAND JUSTICE! WE WILL NEVER BE SILENT AND WE WILL NEVER ALLOW FALSE REPORTS TO SURFACE IN MATTERS CONCERNING BONDED LABORERS!
Zemira Eli Natan
International Unity for Freedom and Equality