ANALYSIS: Penchant for self-destruction -Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur.
States create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for the targeted population. This practice is as old as slavery, colonialism and annexations. Its practitioners universally follow similar tactics because it is essentially based on brutal force; despite lofty aims and names, its face never changes. Though used lavishly in Balochistan it has not succeeded yet, nor will it in future.
Questions are being asked why Habib Jalib or Liaqat Mengal, moderate and articulate representatives of a mainstream, federation-favouring political party, were assassinated by death squads. The answer is that the oppressors fear even peaceful defiance because defiance, like submissiveness, is contagious. Having faced 63 years of repression, the Baloch understand that the present round will certainly not be the last.
The eve of July 15 was chosen for Habib Jalib's assassination because Balochistan observes it as Martyrs' Day in memory of the 1960 hangings of Nawab Nauroz Khan's son and comrades. It was to rub in the fact that the Baloch can and will be killed with impunity. The judicial inquiry instituted to investigate the murders of Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and other Turbat martyrs remains dormant, as the culprits are all too powerful.
. Examples abound but only a few will suffice.
The Sharpeville massacre on March 21, 1960 in which at least 180 black Africans were injured and 69 killed when the South African police opened fire on approximately 20,000 demonstrators protesting against the pass laws which, since the 1920s, had restricted the movements of black South Africans. They, in their own country, could only go where the white supremacist regime considered fit. These passes helped enforce the apartheid segregation. In Balochistan too, movement is subtly and overtly restricted by the innumerable check-posts that dot the landscape.
The Soweto uprising of 1976 erupted because the apartheid regime denied people the right to learn in their own language. Between 1972 and 1976, 40 new schools were built in Soweto, South Africa, as the state needed better-qualified labourers. The Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974 forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50-50 mix for teaching, denying education to Africans in their native language. Then deputy minister of Bantu education, Punt Janson, said, "I haven't consulted the African people on the language issue and I am not going to." The decree was deeply resented by blacks as Afrikaans symbolised apartheid, or in the words of Desmond Tutu, "the language of the oppressor". The public education system in Balochistan, too, is geared to produce semi-literate labourers because, apart from the usual fare, the students are burdened with Arabic.
On April 30, 1976, to register their resentment, the students at Orlando West Junior School in Soweto went on strike. Their rebellion soon spread to many other schools in Soweto. On the morning of June 16, 1976, thousands of black students walked towards Orlando Stadium for a rally to protest against having to learn through Afrikaans carrying placards saying: "If we must do Afrikaans, Vorster must do Zulu." (Balthazar Johannes Vorster was then the prime minister of South Africa.)
Colonel Kleingeld, a police officer, fired the first shot, after which there was mayhem. More gunshots were fired and terrified students were screaming and running. Then rioting began and 23 people, including two white people, died on the first day in Soweto. On June 17, 1,500 heavily armed police officers carrying automatic weapons, stun guns and carbines entered Soweto in armoured vehicles with helicopters hovering above. The government claimed only 23 students were killed. In fact, there were more than 500 fatalities with the wounded estimated to be over a thousand men, women, and children. The Soweto Uprising further galvanised the urge for freedom.
Steve Biko, a leading founder of South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement, was only 31 years old when he died in a prison cell in Pretoria on September 12, 1977. He had incessantly struggled for the rights of Africans against the brutal apartheid regime. He was expelled from his first school for 'anti-establishment' behaviour. Whilst at medical school, Biko founded the South African Students' Organisation (SASO), which provided legal aid and medical clinics for disadvantaged black communities.
Biko was banned by the apartheid regime in February 1973. The ban meant that he was not allowed to speak to more than one person at a time, his movement was restricted and he could not make speeches in public; he also could not be quoted. He was detained and interrogated four times between August 1975 and September 1977 under the anti-terrorism legislation.
It was during his last detention he was hit on the head at the security police headquarters in Port Elizabeth and then transported lying naked in the back of a Land Rover for a 12-hour journey to Pretoria where he died of brain damage. The then Justice Minister James Kruger said he died due to a hunger strike. Eventually, they admitted he died of brain damage but said the injuries were the result of a self-inflicted suicide attempt and a murder charge could not be supported because there were no witnesses. The struggle for ousting the apartheid regime intensified and succeeded because, however brutal a regime, people cannot be held in bondage forever. Balochistan's recent history is full of unsung Steve Bikos.
This purposefully mala fide madness as employed by states, is eventually, and fortunately so, self-defeating, because it pushes the inbuilt self-destruction button which all states invariably possess. Had it not been for this penchant for self-destruction, which ironically is considered self-preservation, the world would still have been ruled by the Roman or an XYZ empire, by the Mughals, or an XYZ dynasty, or the offspring of Hitler or another XYZ.
The use of force as the choice method of containing the aspirations of the people has always backfired and is boomeranging in Balochistan as more and more people cherishing their dignity and rights keep joining the ranks of those who seek radical remedies to their problems. The states' penchant for self-destruction, though initially severe on the people, eventually becomes the reason for their freedom.
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