Thar residents highlight benefits of Peoples Tribunals at reflection seminar
Islamkot, April 2, 2022: A reflection seminar on the process of the Peoples Tribunals was organized in Islamkot, Sindh, which was attended by a large number of Thar locals, including female residents, who are victims of coal power projects and coal mining in Thar.
During the reflection seminar, a short documentary was also featured which showcased the issues arising due to coal mining in Thar. The reflection seminar on these Peoples Tribunals was also attended by civil society representatives and journalists also participated in the event. The seminar was organized by Thar Samaji Tehreek, in collaboration with Alliance for Climate Justice and Clean Energy (ACJCE).
The Peoples Tribunal is an initiative of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), a member of the ACJCE. It was launched over a year and a half ago with the aim to raise awareness among the local Tharis on the adverse impacts of the ongoing coal mining projects on their lives and the environment and also hear the grievances of the victims. So far, around 15 Peoples Tribunals have been held, with many more to planned to be organized.
Appreciating such initiatives to educate the people, representatives from the local community – namely Ahmad Amin Lanjo, Mohammad Ramzan Halepoto, Abdul Aziz Qadri, Bhagat Rasoo Mall, Mohammad Nihal Mehranpoto and others, said that they and other locals were unaware of their rights prior to Peoples Tribunals. They added that they had suffered due to a lack of awareness and knowledge about their rights when their ancestral land was taken away from them by the government and the coal mining companies to set up coal power plants.
Mohammad Aslam from Thar Samaji Tehreek, a social movement by the locals, said that previously, a common patwari would threaten the locals of taking their land from them. However, he said, that was no longer the case. Aslam added that the coal mining companies had made every effort to fail the Peoples Tribunals but could not do so.
Yasmin Shah, daughter of the late PFF Chairman, Muhammad Ali Shah, said that her father was a movement in himself. He was not just a leader of fishermen, but he also struggled for the people of Thar on the ground.
Azhar Lashari from Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development said that the payment for land taken from the locals for these coal projects was only made to the owners of ‘survey land’ by the coal companies, while yaksala and gowchar land were paid no compensation. However, the most affected were the landless men and women who were paid no compensation, he added.
Social leader Irshad Laghari presented the case of Thari people and read the Sindhi version of the indictment prepared during the previous process of Peoples Tribunals. He said that the Thar coal companies have no sympathies with Thar and its people.
The seminar was also addressed by Social Movement president Amir Hassan and general secretary Rasooll Bakhsh and Mehwish Laghari and Shahid Shah from the Visionary Forum. Mustafa Ali Shah, son of the late PFF Chairman, Kashif Ali Shah and Farhan Wagan were also present on the occasion.