Transport for London have caved into pressure from the Pakistan government and banned the London taxi advertisement that draws attention ot the human rights abuses in the war-torn province of Balochistan.
Islambad have denounced the advertisement as ‘malicious’ and ‘anti-pakistan’ as well as being an attack on the country’s sovereignty and integrity. The advert called on people to ‘Raise your voice. Save the Baloch people’.
Within 24 hours these adverts were banned and TfL have said the grounds for this are ostensibly the fact that they were ‘controversial and sensitive’ and in violation of its advertising policy. Seemingly, Pakistani lobbying have terrified TfL into submitting to their demands.
Why are we – a leading liberal democracy- choosing to prioritise good relations with Pakistan over the fundamental violations of human rights in Balochistan?
Bhawal Mengal the leader of WBO, which is the advert organiser, is exiled in the UK after fearing for his life if he was active in Balochistan. Five of his relatives have been jailed or murdered by Pakistan government officials. He argues that the bullying tactics of the Pakistan government are an attack on freedom of expression.
We cannot ignore the war crimes which have come before the people of Balochistan. The call to free Balochistan is consistent with the human rights principle of the right to self-determination, which is enshrined in the UN charter.
Tens of thousand Baloch people have been murdered or have disappeared by Pakistani security forces. The killings are happening right now and the US are aiding them. They have supplied the F-16 fighter jets and Cobra attack helicopter that are being diverted and misused to attack Baloch civilians.
The mayor of London must intervene to get WBO’s adverts reinstated. WBO will not give up so easily. They will now launch phase two of the campaign: billboard adverts on London roads.