Comrade Hameed Khan and all the other workers and leaders involved in the April civil servants' strike in Quetta/Baluchistan were released in the late hours of the night of Friday 21 June after two months of imprisonment in central jail Quetta.
On his release comrade Hameed has sent a message of revolutionary gratitude to all those trade unionists, workers and youth internationally who had campaigned for their release. He particularly thanked the Marxist.com website for orchestrating such a forceful campaign which contributed significantly to their release by the military dictatorship in Pakistan.
This has been the longest struggle and imprisonment of any workers and trade unionists for launching a struggle for their rights under the present military regime in Pakistan. Thousands of protest messages were sent to the dictatorship from around the world against this repression of the trade unionists. In Pakistan the PTUDC organised a militant campaign throughout the country. Protest demonstrations and rallies were taken out in all the major cities and towns of Pakistan. Thousands of signatures were collected and thousands of leaflets distributed across Pakistan. Trade union federations and political parties were mobilised for the campaign. Unfortunately PTUDC was the only force that organised this campaign on a national level.
In Baluchistan the ARD (PPP-led alliance), PONUM and other political parties called several successful general strikes in Quetta which also pressurised the regime to release these comrades. A hunger strike was also held for the release of these workers by some trade union leaders of Quetta.
The important thing is that these imprisoned comrades showed immense courage and determination till the end. They refused to be released until every jailed worker was set free. They also refused to sign any apology letters or apply for bail individually.
They military regime tried every trick and manoeuvre to crush the strike and break the will of these imprisoned workers. They used the top national union bureaucrats to call off the strike and imparted more state repression and pressure on the imprisoned comrades to budge. They miserably failed.
In the end they regime had to retreat. This is the second victory of the comrades in less than six months. The release has been on the following conditions.
- All the workers have been released unconditionally and the cases against them have been withdrawn. Hameed Khan and some other comrades were presented in the anti-terrorist court for their release. This shows that they were been prosecuted for terrorism for the crime of launching a peaceful strike and trade union activity. The decaying bourgeoisie regimes around the world are using this so called "war against terrorism" to crush the workers' movement rising against the rotten capitalist system in every country. Pakistani dictatorship is no exception.
- The comrades agreed to be released only with the clear guarantee that ALL the dismissed employees would be fully reinstated.
- A committee comprising of Baluchistan trade union leaders and the provincial government representatives has been set up to review and negotiate the demands for which the strike had been originally launched, including the demand of 40% increased allowance.
- None of the imprisoned workers have signed any apology and those outside who were forced to sign these apologies are being asked by the released leaders to withdraw them.
Although all the demands have not been accepted as yet, still the unconditional release has been a partial victory for the Quetta civil servants. These comrades have proved to other sections of the proletariat that even in most difficult of objective conditions battles of the class struggle can be fought and won.
Comrade Hameed Khan, talking to me on the telephone a few minutes ago from Quetta, besides thanking the comrades of the international campaign, vowed to continue this fight to the finish. Hameed Khan said in conclusion:
"This 'war against terrorism' in reality is the aggressive onslaught of crisis-ridden world capitalism in the class war against the proletariat. We are not fundamentalists but we are part of the international working class. If we can defy them here in one of the most primitive areas of the world, united and determined we shall defeat imperialism on a world scale in this decisive epoch of the class struggle that is now opening up. The successful strike in Spain is a source of great inspiration for us. Our struggle is one with the greatest cause on earth…a Socialist Revolution. Whether it is fought in Spain or in Baluchistan, its destination is the same. I am confident that in the battles ahead we shall fight and we shall win."