Freedom Fisher

Last week at the Press Club in Hyderabad, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) held a conference on the ‘Rights of fishermen and role of democratic government’ after public opinion leaders urged the new Pakistani government to restore fishermen’s rights. Participants confirmed their commitment to advancing social and economic justice, democracy and human rights.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum chairman Syed Mohammed Ali Shah stated that, from Kashmore to Karachi, ‘two million fishermen of Sindh have been deprived of their rights’. He added that, due to the non-release of water downstream from Kotri, several thousands of people are living in utter poverty, and that the majority of the population living in the coastal area had migrated to other places in search of a livelihood. He said the poisonous water of the entire country was being released into the ocean which had not only destroyed marine life but also the environment.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan co-chairman Iqbal Hyder said that, ‘Locals have first right to their resources according to an internationally established principle, therefore fishermen should be given first right over oceans and all fresh water resources’.

Sikandar Shoro, Pakistan People’s Party Member of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, promised the fisherfolk the restoration of their rights and said he would raise the question on the floor of the Assembly.

The conference issued a Charter of Demands, the ‘Hyderabad Declaration’, demanding fishermen’s rights on ocean and river waters, the formulation of a fishing policy with the abolition of the contract system and the issue of licenses. It also asked for an immediate halt to the arrest and torture by security forces of fishermen inadvertently sailing beyond the assigned limits.

The PFF dream is for a just political, economic, social and cultural system free of all discrimination, distinction, exploitation and oppression, a system where fisherfolk and all citizens have access to their basic human rights.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum

Victoria Blackshaw
[email protected]

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