Civil society, rights defenders back the community workforce Gizri fishermen to lead the campaign to have separate jetty

Karachi, September 17, 2013 (PPI-OT): Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum with representatives of civil society organizations and rights defenders forms joint action committee to address issues of Gizri fishermen

This was decided at a consultative meeting organized by the PFF, which attracted a large number of civil society representatives and rights defenders to express solidarity with the fishermen of Gizri, whose livelihood is under threats due to closure of their routes to traditional jetties by Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

The meeting was convened to discuss the hostility of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), which earlier promised to build a separate jetty with pathway for the community workforce to land their catch and move it to the market without any disruption. But later the authority stopped entrance of the community, due to this hundreds of workers are sitting idle at the home for the last several months.

The meeting designed a three-month long action plan to take up the issue, facing the fishermen of Gizri neighborhood of Karachi.

Katherine Alexander of SHEHRI, Ellahi Bakhsh of Abdul Hayee of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), Shehzad Sadiq of IUCN Natural Resources management (NRM) Coordinator, Senior researcher Ali Ercelan, Saleem Baloch, ActionAid Pakistan Project Coordinator, PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah, Saeed Baloch, Shujaudin Qureshi of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), Nasreen Gill of Bannh Beli, Riaz Nawab of Caritas and elders of Gizri fishermen community attended the meeting.

The meeting was informed that the DHA burnt fishing vessels, beaten fishermen to deprive of them of their right to livelihood, as the community people have ancestral routes, heading to jetty, which was built long before the DHA itself came into being. The issue is not only of livelihood, but the marine ecology is also under threats. Mangroves forests are being cleaned by the DHA to reclaim the coastal land in the name of further development.

Earlier, PFF chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah briefed the participants about the four-year long campaign launched by the community people and the decisions unanimously made how to protect the rights of the community. But, he said, the DHA officials violated the decisions and in result the community people are facing problem.

He said the DHA announced to build a separate jetty for the fishermen but later violated the decision. This approach has put fishermen out of Gizri and Clifton beaches, which were the fishing grounds for the small scale fishermen of the city neighborhoods.

Shah also shared the documents dually signed by the DHA officials, PFF leaders and the community to resolve the issue. However, the participants took the issue seriously and said they will be with the community to protect their basic right, which the constitution of the country guarantees to them as law abiding citizens.

The meeting decided to launch a phase-wise campaign to protect the rights of fishermen, in which they will approach the DHA officials again to stop violation of the decisions and build jetty as soon as possible. Otherwise, the civil society and human rights defenders said they will take up the matter at important forums, because the residents of Gizri are natural custodians of the sea and they have right to own it, not those causing depletion of natural resources and marine ecology.

For more information, contact:
Jamil Junejo
Manager Programs
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
PFF Secretariat Karachi, Sindh
Sachall Hall, Ibrahim Hyderi,
Bin Qasim Town,
Karachi, Sindh
Phone: +92 21 5092862, 92 21 35090543
Fax: +92 21 35090540

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