|Sunday, December 27, 2009||Add to Clippings||Print Story|
|Exchange of detained fishermen appreciated|
|By our correspondent|
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler) have appreciated the exchange of detained fishermen between India and Pakistan; these fishermen had been languishing in jails for border violations.
Pakistan recently released 100 detained Indian fishermen; in exchange 90 Pakistan fishermen were released by India. This decision by both the governments was termed a ‘goodwill gesture’.
However PFF Chairman Mohammad Ali Shah and Piler Joint Director Zulfiqar Shah said in a press release on Saturday that much work still needs to be done to provide justice to these fishermen who mostly suffer without committing any crime other than searching for food. They demanded both the neighbouring countries to release all the fishermen detained in their respective jails instead of releasing a small portion. Meanwhile they also demanded release of all the seized boats as they said those are the only sources of livelihood for the poor fishermen and their family.
Both organisations, which are part of South Asian Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE), also urged the civil society of India and Pakistan to raise their voice against the detainment of the fishermen.
They added that millions of fishermen suffer due to the prolonged and unsettled disputes between the two countries. The delay in settlement of Sir Creek border issues is a permanent trouble-maker for the fishermen as there is no evident demarcation in the sea. Therefore, the fishermen of both the countries easily stray into the water zones due to severe weather.
The senior office bearers of Piler and PFF said that the fishermen of both countries are frequently attacked, arrested and even killed by naval forces and their fishing boats and catch are confiscated. They added that the poor fishermen are put in prisons for years on the charges of crossing the water zones and they are not produced before any court of law for years.
They said that concrete efforts should be made in this regard otherwise this will remain a constant problem which would prove to be disastrous for the fishermen. They said that if dozens of fishermen are arrested on a daily basis then the exchange of fishermen would serve no purpose other than political mileage.
Moreover they pointed out that the number of Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails is 722 while more than 300 Pakistan fishermen are languishing in Indian jails. They said that a large number of these detainees are children who suffer in jails along with their parents or relatives. This, they said, was a clear violation of children’s rights as both countries are signatories of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and other international treaties. They reiterated the demand that all the detained be released unconditionally and no further fishermen be arrested.