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Full Version: Evictees protest govt’s decision to demolish Ittehad Colony
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Evictees protest govt’s decision to demolish Ittehad Colony

LAHORE: Slum dwellers and homeless tenants of the metropolis on Wednesday took out a rally condemning government’s decision to demolish Ittehad Colony located on Railways land in Gulberg.

World Minorities Alliance (WMA) Convener J Salik and leaders of Joint Action Committee of slum dwellers led the rally. Carrying placards inscribed with slogans in favour of their demands, the protesters gathered at Ittehad Colony from where they marched towards Railway Headquarters.

Addressing the rally, Salik said the decision to demolish Ittehad Colony was a blatant violation of UN Charter of Human Rights. He said that during the past 35 years of his struggle for the rights of the oppressed, he had reached the conclusion that the UN had become an “ineffective body” that was unable to get its member countries, including Pakistan, to implement its charter.

He said the UN was never an independent world body, as a US visa is required to visit its headquarters in New York.

He demanded shifting of UN Headquarters to an independent territory where the world body should have powers to issue its own visa, passport, currency, and have its own airport. He said that only an independent UN body could help protect basic human rights, including rights of the minorities. He also demanded a reserved seat for minorities in the UN.

Salik regretted that minorities were being denied their rights in Pakistan. He said that selection of 10 minority members on reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies was a violation of Article 226 of the constitution, which he had challenged in the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan. He asked the audience to pray that the SC passed a decision in their favour before the forthcoming general elections.

He pointed out that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had made a commitment on March 30, 2008, promising allotment of residential plots to slum dwellers and homeless tenants in urban and rural areas within 100 days. He regretted that despite a passage of 1,500 days, the PM had failed to honour his words. “If he wants to honour his words, he should immediately allot residential plots to Ittehad Colony slum dwellers and all homeless tenants,” he said.

Referring to the contract between Solid Waste Management (SWM), City District Government Lahore (CDGL) and a Turkish private firm, Salik said that the decision makers had put at stake the job security of 10,000 sanitary workers, most of them Christians.

The decision, he said, was tantamount to violation of rights of minorities. He warned that if remedial steps were not taken immediately, the WMA would launch a movement against the CDGL decision, both on national and international level.

He also condemned the decision under which sanitary workers had been forced to wear yellow uniform. The decision, he observed, was “product of a sick mindset discriminating sanitary workers from other categories of workers, and was therefore against the universal norms of dignity of human labour”. He said that yellow colour, being a symbol of hatred, was not acceptable to the sanitary workers. He demanded authorities concerned to withdraw the decision, warning that the WMA would launch a protest movement in case it was not done.
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