Small town rises up against deforestation in Pakistan
The town of Ayun, home to 16,000 people in the Chitral district of Pakistan, has been rocked by large-scale protests and mass arrests over the issue of corruption and deforestation in recent days. Villagers are protesting forest destruction in the Kalasha Valleys, the home of the indigenous Kalash people.
The protests first began in November with 18 people arrested, all of whom were eventually released on bail. On December 25th, police allegedly used batons, tear gas, and aerial firing to disperse protestors, including women and children. Since then, police have reportedly rounded up over 100 villagers from their homes for arrest.
“The natural resources of the coniferous and oak forests are vanishing day by day. The green valleys are being converted into barren lands. When environmentalists and some local leadership peacefully protested in [Ayun], the government administration put them in jail. If people cannot try and find a solution to these problems, without fear of government incarceration, who will be left to protect our forests in Chitral?” reads a recent op-ed in Chitral News on the issue.
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