Pakistan: Uproar over FIR against Baloch rights activist Mehrang

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
3 Min Read

The Quetta police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) against Baloch rights activist Mehrang Baloch and several others, accusing them of participating in a protest against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings on May 18 that disrupted traffic on Court Road.

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According to the FIR, the protesters broke the lock and forcibly entered the Quetta Press Club, where they allegedly made speeches and raised slogans against Pakistan. The FIR against Baloch has sparked a legal battle and has been widely condemned by journalists and activists.

Ali Jan Maqsood, a lawyer and Baloch journalist on the social media platform X, said, “Quetta police, which has failed miserably in suppressing the voice of the oppressed, has filed an FIR against Mehrang Baloch, Sebgat, Bibgar and 200 others to further suppress their voice. Such actions will highlight the unfair behavior of state institutions towards peaceful Baloch.”

Exiled human rights activist Gulalai Ismail said, “I strongly condemn the filing of the FIR against Mehrang Baloch. This is part of the war waged by the Pakistani government against Baloch youth. This blatant attempt to silence Mehrang through a harassment case must stop. Let him live and campaign.”

The Quetta administration had cited the threat of terrorism as the main reason for sealing the Press Club and its surrounding areas on that day, preventing the Baloch Solidarity Committee from holding a conference titled “Gwadar: From Mega Projects to Mega Jail” at the venue.

The lockdown of the Press Club was strongly criticised by the Balochistan Union of Journalists, calling it an attack on press freedom and a clear violation of Article 19 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech and expression.

Showing solidarity, the journalists boycotted the Balochistan Assembly session and demanded suspension of Quetta Deputy Commissioner and raised slogans to express their dissatisfaction with the administration.

The boycott ended following assurances from the Balochistan Chief Minister, during which the journalists presented a four-point comprehensive demand aimed at resolving grievances and ensuring accountability within the administration.

As tensions escalate, Balochistan stands at a critical juncture, grappling with questions of democracy and freedom of expression.

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