Activists in Leipzig staged a protest against alleged rights violations by Pakistan's army in Balochistan province. The protesters waved Indian flags and shouted slogans supporting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A group of around 40 activists gathered in the eastern German city of Leipzig on Saturday to protest alleged atrocities by Pakistan's government in the country's southwestern province, Balochistan. The protesters chanted anti-Pakistan slogans, saying "We want freedom," "Free Balochistan" and "Go ahead Modi."
Press agency Asian News Network tweeted this video from the event.
"We organized this protest for the freedom of occupied Balochistan, to highlight the human rights violations in occupied Balochistan by Pakistani state forces," President of the Balochistan Republican Party (BRP) in Germany, Jawad Muhammad, told DW.
Ashraf Sherjan, the BRP's former chief said that "the protest was against military operations in Dera Bugti in Balochistan. [For] the last few weeks, the Pakistani army has been carrying out huge operations in Dera Bugti. Many innocent Baloch civilians were killed and many were abducted."
"One more aim was to thank [Indian] Prime Minister Narendra Modi for standing and supporting the people of Balochistan, including our thanks to the ministers of Bangladesh and Afghanistan for supporting Prime Minister Modi's statement on Balochistan," Sherjan added.
The demonstration, largely ignored by local German media, was widely covered by Indian newspapers and websites.
Modi's change of plans
Relations between Islamabad and New Delhi, both nuclear powers, have sharply deteriorated after the killing of a separatist leader in India-administered Kashmir on July 8 led to violent protests. At least 66 demonstrators and two security officials were killed.
Following criticism from Pakistan, Modi addressed the issue of rights abuses in Pakistan's Baloch region. The country's leading newspaper, Times of India, called Modi's stance an indication of a "strategic shift" and an attempt to call out Pakistan for its "so-called hypocrisy in commenting about Kashmir even as it continues to oppress people within its borders."
Pakistan and India have been involved in a decades-long standoff over Kashmir since the subcontinent's independence from British rule and their partition in 1947. Kashmir, a former kingdom, acceded to New Delhi shortly after the British left.
Article 370 of the Constitution of India grants Kashmir a special status, but with restrictions to fundamental rights compared to other Indian citizens. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir as their own. Kashmir, in turn, demands separate country status.
In its bid to stem terrorism and separatism, the Indian army has been accused of gross human rights violations in the Himalayan valley, including arbitrary arrests, kidnappings and torture in police custody.