Baloch activists expose Pakistan's atrocities on international platform

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
6 Min Read

The Norway chapter of PEN International, an organization of social activists defending freedom of expression, organized a discussion among activists from around the world in Oslo, Norway, in which prominent Baloch leader Mehrang Baloch spoke on the issue of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan.

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In his statement, the Baloch leader said that a large number of people have been forcibly disappeared by the Pakistani army during the last two decades in the name of counter-terrorism operations and peace.

“The region I come from has been battling violence and militancy for the past seven decades. In the past two decades, in the name of counter-terrorism operations and peace, Pakistani security agencies have forcibly disappeared a large number of youth, mostly students, engineers, doctors, political activists and journalists.”

He further stressed that these people are being held in detention centres, tortured and their families do not know their whereabouts.

“Not for a few days, but for years, even if there are cases where the disappearance has been reported for decades. And the family did not know if their loved one was alive or dead,” Baloch said.

Mehrang Baloch stressed that it is still practiced today by fascist states and oppressive states like Pakistan.

He further said, “Even today, this is done by fascist states, by oppressive states like Pakistan. During these last two decades, in the name of counter-terrorism operations and peace, many of our assets have been forcibly disappeared. And then their mutilated bodies were found in Balochistan. They were being killed in detention centres.”

Baloch said the exact number of missing people is unknown, as the kingdom has not allowed international groups such as the United Nations or Amnesty International to investigate the nature of this humanitarian tragedy.

“But when local worker rights groups tried to document these figures or raise their voices, they themselves disappeared. “These stories of victims of enforced disappearance are very difficult to tell,” he said.

Sharing his experience of suffering at the hands of the Pakistani administration, Baloch said, “I am a victim myself. My own father was disappeared by agents of the Pakistani state in 2009. He was killed and his bullet-riddled body was found in 2011. When I was in class 10, my results were declared on this day. That day, I found my father's body, my younger brother went missing when I was doing my graduation in medicine in 2017.

He said he campaigned for him and organised rallies in Balochistan. He said he was released after three months.

“But my case is not exceptional. There are worse cases in Balochistan. However, there are victims and there are families who have no one left to tell their story. And even though there are villages that have been destroyed and there is no one to tell their story.

In his statement he also said that there are hundreds of children, teenagers and young people whose fathers, uncles or brothers have been missing for weeks, months and in some worst cases, for years.

“They don't know if they are alive or not. With these young people, most of whom are women, I am campaigning and putting pressure on the Supreme Court of Pakistan, parliament and the security forces to release those who have gone missing or at least bring them before the courts if they have committed any crime,” he said.

Baloch said Pakistani authorities have resorted to violence instead of resolving these issues.

He also mentioned the Long March which failed due to the negligence and misbehavior of the Pakistani administration.

She said, “I travelled over 1600 kilometres for more than a month in December and reached Pakistan's capital Islamabad on a cold evening with children and women. We were beaten, harassed, humiliated and tortured by the police. The controlled media was used to launch a malicious campaign against us. On social media, we were abused and trolled by government accounts.”

Baloch stressed that journalists were intimidated and prevented from giving media coverage. He said Pakistan's powerful intelligence agencies forced people not to react to the peaceful movement.

He said, “The media ignored us during our protest. Scandals were sent from the National Press Club in Islamabad. And this peaceful movement did not get any coverage. We have been sitting there for more than a month.”

Baloch further expressed hope and said that he is optimistic because the number of people behind this violence and using violence is less.

“They may have the power to rule us. But those who believe in humanity, who believe in peace, are in large numbers.”

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