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I am stateless – Baseer Naveed


A heartbreaking narration of Pakistani born human rights activist in Hong Kong


“The position of statelessness is dangerous for me as I can also not only be restricted up to my home but I can be deported or arrested,” Mr Baseer Naveed, a well-known Pakistani born human rights defender who is leading a newly initiated regional human rights body, International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), said in an exclusive interview with Sri Lanka Guardian.

IHRC works for strengthening democracy and human rights, Constitutional Rights, Legal Empowerment, Access to Justice, Human Rights particularly of Women, Minority, Disability and Child Rights and Rule of Law by strengthening institutions of justices.

The life story of Baseer is an exemplary journey of a man who was suppressed and denied the fundamental rights by many parties. On the one hand, he was a victim of military apparatus which undermined the liberty of every citizen in the jurisdiction where he was born. On the other hand, he was a victim of men disguised as friends while claiming the guardians of human rights.

Baseer Naveed
“My work was disregarded and I was alienated amongst colleagues. In early 2018, my contract was terminated and I was asked to leave the office without giving any reasons,” Baseer recalled his experiences with his former employer. Baseer is based in Hong Kong since he forced to leave his native country, Pakistan, decades ago.

Following are the excerpts of the interview;

Question (Q): Please tell us a little about your predicament?

Answer (A): My predicament started in 2004 when during the military government of General Musharraf my son was assassinated in vengeance against my movement in support of 300,000 people being displaced from their homes to pave way for a highway project. I struggled to provide the finest resettlement plan Pakistan ever had, this was the reason I shifted to Hong Kong and join one of the human rights organizations in Hong Kong.

From Hong Kong, I extensively worked for the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan. I worked on human rights issues, not superficially, but on the individual cases of rights abuses, I issued hundreds of urgent appeals, made and submitted extensive reports and oral submissions to different bodies of UN. Moreover I organized several consultations within and outside Pakistan this allowed me the opportunity to have extensive networking with human rights defenders from around the world this helped me in raising human rights abuses at international platforms. The issues such as, Torture, enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings were raised at international levels from Hong Kong.

During this period, I was continuously receiving threats from Pakistan, its spy agencies and some powerful groups. Our partners were followed and investigated for having working contacts with me.

In 2016, I was deported from Thailand where I went to attend a conference on Balochistan and China sponsored a high way road popularly known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Balochistan is the most neglected province of Pakistan where military is conducting operations since 1954 while looting the region of its natural resources.

I was a guest speaker among the several others at the Bangkok conference. But only me and an organizer were arrested and deported. The states of Pakistan and China are jealously guarding the project criticism of any sort on the project is not tolerated and clamp down upon. The intelligence agencies were quiet active in Bangkok and they wanted to take me back to Pakistan but at the last moment, they have to leave me when the authorities of Thailand did intervention and sent me back to Hong Kong.

Following the deportation things took a turn for the worst. At workplace I was asked not to write much on issues of human rights, avoid travelling to international forums. I was not Even, allowed to write a statement or issue an Urgent Appeal on the issue of illegal deportation from Thailand. My work was disregarded and I was alienated amongst colleagues.

In the early 2018, my contract was terminated and I was asked to leave the office without giving any reasons. However, the organization’s octogenarian director is falsely accusing me of defaming the organization. Because of his policies the organization lost his credibility, due to his attitude many senior staffers have left, or their jobs were terminated. I was asked to leave despite the fact that my desk was praised in every evaluation since 2007.

Baseer Naveed
After the Thailand episode, I decided to go for naturalization and get Chinese citizenship and Hong Kong passport so that I may not have problems in travelling. I applied in 2017 for naturalization and got approval from HK Immigration in January 2018, the authorities asked me to surrender my nationality and Passport. I applied immediately and my national Identity card was cancelled and in May 2018 I got renunciation from ministry of interior. However, The Consulate general of Pakistan kept my passport and did not handover to me for more than one year. The consulate also wrote very adverse report against me, saying if this man got foreign passport, he will raise the issue of violations of human rights at international level and give bad name to Pakistan. Baseer is anti-Pakistan, and many other accusations were leveled against me.

Q: How do you think your statelessness will affect your activism?

A: I know that my activism will be harshly affected as I can no longer travel abroad to attend conferences, symposiums or seminars on human rights. My only link with the outside world is through internet. I am now officially barred to visit Pakistan, tough earlier there were covert threats from the state to discourage me from visiting Pakistan now I am rendered stateless, the worst situation any human can possibly be in.

Q. Why do you think deep state wants to control your activism?

A: The position of statelessness is dangerous for me as I can also not only be restricted up to my home but I can be deported or arrested. Though I am a permanent resident of Hong Kong but do not have the nationality of any country. Such issue will also affect my family. The government of Pakistan may also utilize this position for asking the Chinese government to deport me to Pakistan and it is well known that when I will reach Pakistan I will be under the custody of law enforcement agencies and can be disappeared as it is very common in the country to abduct and disappear.

Q. How can civil society help you and those in similar situations as yours?

A: I think civil society should take notice of such serious attempts of the state where they can easily punish dissidents. Now, in this situation of being a stateless my right of freedom of movement is curbed. I cannot move freely even inside Hong Kong.

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