Parliament Hill meeting on human rights focuses on Balochistan, Sindh

Ottawa, 06-06-19:  Representatives of Baloch Human Rights Council (BHRC) and the Sindhi Foundation held a crucial meeting at the office of MP Cheryl Hardcastle, Vice-Chair, Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Honourable MP Cheryl Hardcastle was represented by her Political Advisor and Legislative Assistant, Mr. Tom Allen. 

Zaffar Jawaid of BHRC and Munawar Laghari of the Sindhi Foundation briefed Mr. Allen on the escalating human rights abuses in Balochistan and Sindh enacted by the Pakistani security forces. Rights violations were taking a serious toll on human lives as civilians and rights activists were arrested, disappeared, tortured and extra-judicially killed in custody by military and paramilitary units. 

The human rights advocacy campaign at the Parliament Hill highlighted the extreme repressive measures employed by the Pakistani state to brutally crush civil rights campaigns in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa regions. Representatives emphasized that Baloch women and children were being abducted and disappeared in Balochistan along with thousands of students, youth and political activists who are protesting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, exploiting natural resources and taking over Gwadar port for control over Middle East oil routes to the international market and Central Asia.

Mr. Allen was also briefed on the worrisome, and increasing cases of forced conversions of Sindhi Hindu girls in Sindh that continue to escalate in the absence of a law in Pakistan that prevents forced conversions. 

The representatives from Balochistan and Sindh human rights advocacy groups were assured of active support from the Canadian Members of Parliament on issues that endangered human lives. Mr. Allen expressed serious concern over the human rights situation in Balochistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and stated that the international law should be respected at all cost to stop violations against civilians.

Source: Balochistan Affairs

The International Community Must Act Now to Save the Baloch from Extinction

Dated: 20 March 2009

Mr. Martin Ihoeghian Uhomoibhi

President of the United Nations Human Rights Council

Geneva

Switzerland

Subject: The International Community Must Act Now to Save the Baloch from Extinction

Dear Mr. President

The representatives of the international human rights organisations and Baloch and Sindhi human rights activists have gathered here today to request the urgent help of the UN and the international community to stop the atrocities committed by Pakistan army against Baloch people.

Mr President, a ruthless military operation has been going on in the Pakistani controlled Balochistan for the last five years in which thousands of innocent men, women and children have been mercilessly killed, hundreds of thousands have been displaced and thousands are missing. As the international community is busy in dealing with “far important matters” a whole nation is systematically being wiped out by the Pakistani state through cultural, economic, political and military aggression. 

The Baloch and Balochistan

Balochistan is divided and controlled by Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, a legacy of colonialism in that part of the world. In the wake of the British withdrawal from India, the ruler of the Baloch state of Kalat declared Balochistan independent on 11th August 1947, few days before the independence of Pakistan and India. The independence of Balochistan was a short-lived affair as it was invaded by the Pakistani troops with the blessing of the British colonial administration of the time on 27th March 1948 and Balochistan was annexed by Pakistan. The Baloch resistance for national sovereignty and several military operations to quell the Baloch national uprisings by Pakistan have widened the gulf between the Pakistani State and the Baloch people. 

The Baloch Pakistan Conflict

Mr. President, the history of relationship between the Baloch and the Pakistani state is the history of violent conflicts. The Baloch national resistance is the response of the Baloch masses to cultural and economical domination and political subjugation by Pakistan. Crude military power has been the only way adopted by almost every Pakistani Government in dealing with the Baloch discontent. The ongoing military campaign is the bloodiest one causing internal dislocation of thousands of the Balochs. The brutal murder of one of the towering figures of the Baloch national movement, Nawab Akber Bugti and the murder of the revered resistance fighter Nawabzada Mir Balaach Marri by Pakistani army are the most important happenings of the present conflict. Recently, the most prominent of the nationalist scholars and intellectuals, Mir Jan Mohammad Dashti was ambushed and critically wounded by the death squad of a front organization of the Pakistani State security agency (ISI). In addition, kidnapping of hundreds of the Baloch by security agencies is another unprecedented hallmark of the 5 years long, low intensity war of resistance and political mobilization inBalochistan. 

The primary aspect of the conflict between the Baloch and Pakistan has been the dispute over the legitimacy of accession of the Baloch State of Kalat with Pakistan. The annexation of their land by Pakistan was against the will of the Baloch people expressed by both Houses of their parliament. It was the illegal occupation of their land without their consent.


The second aspect of Baloch-Pakistan conflict is the irrational rather politically perverse doctrine of ‘Islamic brother-hood’. The concepts of Islamic brother-hood, and Pakistani Islamic Nation doctrine adopted by the state were used as tools for subjugating the Baloch and other nationalities and for undermining their cultural, linguistic and social traditions.


Coercive military presence has been the permanent feature of the Baloch and the state conflict. The Pakistani army, perceiving the Baloch nationalism as a grave threat to the state, launched major military offensives in Balochistan during 1948, 1958, 1962, and 1973. Extra judicial killings of the Baloch by the army, paramilitary and state intelligence agencies, harassment, kidnapping and inhuman torture of the Baloch political activists and intellectuals during the sustained military campaigns have been permanent features of the state and Baloch conflict. The recent military aggression in Balochistan is the continuation of that policy; nevertheless, it surpasses all previous military operations in its intensity and ruthlessness. 


Cultural exploitation of the Baloch is another characteristic of the Baloch and the state conflict. Alien cultural traditions and language are being imposed at the expense of traditional Baloch social values, the Baloch socio-cultural and political systems are being destroyed or corrupted in a systematic and organized way. Organized attempts are being made by state establishment to bring religion into a prominent position in a secular Baloch society. In this regard, large numbers of religious schools are being patronized by the state in every corner of Balochistan to convert the ‘ignorant Baloch’ and save them from ‘eternal damnation’. This ‘colonisation of the mind’ has important implications. Replacing a traditional belief and social system of a people by an alternative frame of reference often amounts to changing the entire identity of a people. The forceful destruction of a culture inflicts real harm not only on the group or the nationality but also devastates and hurt the individual human beings. One culture cannot simply be removed and another transplanted without committing a violation of the dignity and integrity of that group, nationality or individual.


Witness to the Violation of Basic Human Rights

Respected Mr. President, violation of basic human rights of the Baloch is the most painful aspect of the Baloch-Pakistan conflict. Extra judicial killings, harassment, kidnapping and inhuman torture of the Baloch leaders; political activists and intellectuals are the normal state responses to the Baloch political mobilization and expression of Baloch national aspirations.

The graphic details of human rights violation in Balochistan have been published by different non-governmental organizations and international humanitarian’s institutions. Some of the reports are mentioned below:

1. USSD Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Pakistan 2007 11/03/08

2. Amnesty International Annual report, May 2008

3. International Crisis Group: Pakistan: The Worsening Conflict In Balochistan 14/09/06

4. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan fact finding mission, “Conflict in Balochistan” 2005-2006

5. Balochistan Dossier by Balochistan National Party June 2006

6. Asia Pacific Human Rights Network Report 19/09/06

7. Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, Pakistan: Displacement ongoing in a number of regions 15th May, 2008

The Tale of Brutalities in Balochistan

The human rights violations of the Baloch by the Pakistani State Establishment are characterized by: 

1. Humiliation of the Baloch socio-political leaders and personalities: in 2001, the respected Baloch nationalist personality and cheif of the Marri Tribe NawabKhair Bux Marri was insulted, arrested and kept in solitary confinement for more than a year. In 2006, the house of Nawab Akber Bugti a prominent nationalist leader and president of Jamhoori Watan Pary was bombarded by the armed forces of Pakistan killing and injuring more than 70 people including women and children. 2007, the house of Sardar Attaullah Mengal, prominent nationalist leader and cheif of Mengal Tribe was targeted with rocket fire by the security forces. In 2006, president of the Balochistan National Party Sardar Akhtar Mengal was abducted, tortured and presented in a court held in a small cage. He was kept in solitary confinement for more than a year. 

2. Abduction of political activists and human rights workers by the state security agencies: it is a routine by the security forces to abduct political, human right and student activists. They are usually held for many months tortured and later dumped in a remote area. Dr. Allanazar, Dr. Imdad Baloch and their friends were kidnapped and tortured and released after many months. Journalist Muneer Mengal was abducted from Karachi airport, tortured and kept in solitary imprisonment for many years. Some of the other names are Dr. Haneef Shareef, Professor Hassan Janan, Professor Misri Khan Mari and AbdulnabiBungulzai.

3. Extra-judicial killings of political and social leaders and activists: Nawab Akber Bugti and hundreds of his followers were massacred in August, 2006 by the Pakistani army. His dead body was desecrated. Dr. Khalid a human right activist and his friends were murdered by the security forces in 2007.

4. Detention without trials: hundreds of political and social workers and civil rights activists are under detention without trials.

5. Abduction of the Baloch women by the Pakistani security forces: one hundred and forty three Baloch women are missing and believed to be abducted by the security forces.

6. Burning and bombardment of the Baloch villages: 54 villages and settlements in Balochistan have been burnt either by aerial bombardment or ground actions of the armed forces.

7. Forced Displacements of hundreds of thousands Baloch from their settlement: two hundred thousand Baloch have been forcefully dislocated by the armed forces and are living in miserable conditions throughout Balochistan.

The violation of human rights in Iranian Balochistan 

Mr. President, the Baloch people in western Balochistan under Iranian control are facing the gross violation of their basic fundamental human rights. The Islamic regime of Iran resorts to most cruel approaches to suppress Baloch national aspirations in Balochistan. Arbitrary arrest, torture and other ill-treatment, as well as the use of the death penalty remain prevalent. Impunity for human rights abuses is widespread. Cultural and civic activities are banned or vigorously controlled by the regime. Publication of Balochi literature is not allowed, and Balochi are denied the right to educate their children in their own language. Systematic discrimination is exercised throughout Balochistan by the institutions. Non-governmental organizations, newspapers, magazines and websites have been forcibly closed by the authorities, which also regularly blocks internet access to a wide range of internet sites, including some relating to human rights. The Amnesty International in its recent report on the 30th anniversary of Islamic Republic of Iran (5th Feb 2009) has cited some graphic details on the state of affairs in Balochistan under the Iranian regime.

· Hundreds of Baloch people have been executed and killed by the regime in past few years. In 2008 a prominent civic activist Yahqob Mehrnehad who also was Secretary General of Justice Association was executed after many months of torture and imprisonment in Zahidan. Two prominent Baloch religious scholars, Molavi Abdul-Qodos Molazai and Molavi Yusuf Sohrabi with another 3 Baloch were executed under such fabricated allegations.

· On March 11, 2009 four Baloch, Normohd Ismailzai, Mojibulrahman Kurd, Babak Kurd and Mohd HassanKhan Hassani were executed in Zahidan. On March 3, 2009 two Baloch religious clergies, Molavi Khalilulla Zarahi and Salahudin Gwahramzahi were executed in Zahidan after being imprisoned and tortured for 9 months. 

· Several religious leaders are under arrest and their whereabouts are not known to their relatives. Ibrahim Mehrnehad, the Younger brother of YaqobMehrnehad is still in prison and he is under mental tortures. 

The Baloch Needs the Help of International Community

Mr. President, In the face of heinous crimes being committed by the Pakistani security forces in Balochistan and the unchecked violations of the basic human rights of the Baloch both in Pakistan and Iran, the silence of the international community is incomprehensible. The Baloch are facing a systematic genocide operation by an internationally recognised rogue state. The Baloch expectations and demands from the international community are genuine and simple. They are justified in demanding that: 

1. The UN should establish a fact finding mission to investigate the acts of brutalities and violation of human rights by the state security forces of Pakistan in Balochistan. 

2. The perpetrators of the heinous crimes against humanity should be brought to justice by initiating cases against them in the international court of justice in The Hague. 

3. The United Nations should use their influence in asking the Pakistani establishment to immediately halt the aggressive actions against the Baloch. 

4. The Baloch have never accepted the partition and incorporation of their land into different countries of the region. Right of self determination is the inalienable right of the Baloch people. The Baloch national question should be negotiated between the Baloch and the countries occupying the Baloch land under the auspices of the UN giving the universal right of self determination to the Baloch. 

We believe that Baloch people need an urgent help from the UN and the international community. This is high time for the international community to rise and act before it is too late for Baloch people. 

Yours faithfully,

(On the behalf of)

Interfaith International 

P.O. (c.p.) Box 32,

1246 Corsier,

Geneva

Switzerland

UNPO Secretariat 

PO Box 85878

2508 CN The Hague

The Netherlands

Baloch Human Rights Council

59 Forsyth Gardens

London SE17- 3NE

UK

Sindhi Baloch Forum

38 Barbican Road

Greenford

Middlesex UB6 9DH

UK

Pakistan: Upsurge in Killings in Balochistan – HRW July 13, 2011

Hold Military, Paramilitary Troops Accountable for Abuses 

Print

(New York) – Pakistan’s government should immediately act to end the epidemic of killings of suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists by the military, intelligence agencies, and the paramilitary Frontier Corps in the southwestern province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch said today. 

Across Balochistan since January 2011, at least 150 people have been abducted and killed and their bodies abandoned – acts widely referred to as “kill and dump” operations, in which Pakistani security forces engaged in counterinsurgency operations may be responsible. Assailants have also carried out targeted killings of opposition leaders and activists. Human Rights Watch has extensively documented enforced disappearances by Pakistan’s security forces in Balochistan, including several cases in which those “disappeared” have been found dead. (See appendix.)

“The surge in unlawful killings of suspected militants and opposition figures in Balochistan has taken the brutality in the province to an unprecedented level,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government should investigate all those responsible, especially in the military and Frontier Corps, and hold them accountable.”

In the first 10 days of July, nine bullet-riddled bodies, several of them bearing marks of torture, were discovered in the province, Human Rights Watch said. On July 1, the body of Abdul Ghaffar Lango, a prominent Baloch nationalist activist, was found in an abandoned hotel in the town of Gadani, in the Lasbela district. The local police told the media that, “The body bore multiple marks of brutal torture.” Lango had been abducted by men in civilian clothes in Karachi, in Sindh province, on December 11, 2009. When Lango’s relatives tried to lodge a complaint about his abduction, the police refused to take it. An officer told the family that Lango had been detained because he was a BNP leader and that the “authorities” wanted to restrain him from participating in politics.

Hanif Baloch, an activist with the Baloch Students Organisation (Azad), was abducted from the town of Hub, Lasbela district, on July 4. His body was found in Mach, Bolan district on July 6, with three bullet wounds to his upper body. On the same day in Kech district, the bodies of Azam Mehrab, a resident of Tump, and Rahim, a resident of Mand, were found dumped in Juzak, on the outskirts of the town of Turbat. Both had been shot dead under unknown circumstances.

While Baloch nationalist leaders and activists have long been targeted by the Pakistani security forces, since the beginning of 2011, human rights activists and academics critical of the military have also been killed, Human Rights Watch said. Siddique Eido, a coordinator for the highly regarded nongovernmental organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), was abducted with another man by men in security forces uniforms on December 21, 2010 from the town of Pasni in Gwadar district.

The bodies of both men, bearing marks of torture, were found in Ormara, Gwadar district, on April 28. HRCP said that “the degree of official inaction and callousness” in response to Eido’s death amounted to “collusion” in his killing. Earlier, on March 1, an HRCP coordinator for the city of Khuzdar, Naeem Sabir district, was shot and killed by unknown assailants.

On June 1, Saba Dashtiyari, a professor at the University of Balochistan and an acclaimed Baloch writer and poet, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in the provincial capital, Quetta. Dashtiyari had publicly backed the cause of an independent Balochistan.

“Even the cold-blooded killing of human rights defenders and academics has not moved the Pakistani government to seriously investigate, rein in, or hold the security forces to account in Balochistan,” Adams said. “The government’s failure to open a credible investigation into the killing of someone as prominent as Saba Dashtiyari only adds fuel to the fire of anger and suspicion in the province.”

Armed militant groups in Balochistan are responsible for killing many civilians and destroying private property. In the past several years, they have increasingly targeted non-Baloch civilians and their businesses, police stations, and major gas installations and infrastructure. They have also attacked security forces and military bases throughout the province. Abuses by militants in Balochistan were documented by Human Rights Watch in a December 2010 report “Their Future is at Stake.

Human Rights Watch called upon the Pakistan government to take immediate measures to end killings in Balochistan. The Pakistani authorities should conduct prompt, impartial, and transparent investigations into alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances and ensure that all those responsible, regardless of rank, are fully prosecuted, including as a matter of command responsibility. Victims of abuses by government security forces should be provided appropriate redress.

“President Asif Ali Zardari should recognize that ignoring abuses in Balochistan amounts to giving a green light to the army and intelligence agencies to commit abuses elsewhere in Pakistan,” Adams said. “By failing to hold the security forces accountable for abuses in Balochistan, Pakistan’s government will feed into a cycle of violence that may haunt Pakistani democracy for years to come.”

Background on Balochistan and Human Rights Abuses

Balochistan has historically had a tense relationship with Pakistan’s national government, in large part due to issues of provincial autonomy, control of mineral resources and exploration, and a consequent sense of deprivation. Under Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler from 1999 until 2008, the situation deteriorated markedly, culminating in a crackdown on Baloch nationalists by the security agencies controlled by the Pakistani military and its lead intelligence agency in the province, Military Intelligence (MI).

Since 2005, Pakistani and international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, have recorded numerous serious human rights violations by security forces, including extrajudicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances, and forced displacement of civilians.

Militancy in Balochistan has been fuelled by ethnic Baloch anger over the Pakistani government’s moves to harness local mineral and fossil fuel resources, maintain large numbers of troops in the province, and construct the Gwadar deep-sea port at the mouth of the Persian Gulf with non-Baloch workers. The Pakistani military claims that Baloch militants receive arms and financial support from India but has provided no evidence to support the claim.

In December 2009, Pakistan’s newly elected civilian government, in an effort to bring about political reconciliation in the province, passed a package of constitutional, political, administrative, and economic reforms. Nonetheless, doubts persist within Baloch society about the Pakistan government’s intentions. Divisions among Baloch nationalists have exacerbated lawlessness and violence in the province.

As the violence in Balochistan has intensified, atrocities have mounted. While the Pakistani military and Baloch militants readily exploit the misery of civilians for their own political purposes, they have failed to address these grievances or to accept responsibility for them.

Recent Extrajudicial Killings in Balochistan 

Human Rights Watch has investigated cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Balochistan. Below are recent cases of killings that indicate involvement by the Pakistani military, its intelligence agencies, or the paramilitary Frontier Corps. There has been a notable failure by the federal government in Islamabad and the Balochistan provincial government in Quetta to investigate these cases and hold perpetrators accountable.

Enforced disappearance and killing of Abdul Ghaffar Lango

On December 11, 2009, a group of unknown men abducted Abdul Ghaffar Lango, a prominent Baloch nationalist activist, outside a hospital in Karachi in Sindh province.

At 3 p.m. that day, Lango was leaving the Institute of Surgery and Medicine, a hospital in Karachi, with his wife, who had just been discharged after surgery. Lango’s wife told Human Rights Watch that as the couple reached the main gate, two white Toyota Vigo pickup trucks drove up at high speed in front of them and suddenly stopped. About 10 men in civilian clothes approached the couple. One beat Lango unconscious with the butt of his rifle, and Lango fell to the ground. The men then dragged him into one of the cars and drove away. Lango’s wife said there were many witnesses to the incident since it took place in a crowded area in broad daylight.

Later that day, Lango’s relatives tried to lodge a complaint about his abduction at the Garden police station in Karachi, but the police refused to accept it. A police officer at the station told the family that Lango had been detained because he was a BNP leader and authorities wanted to restrain him from participating in politics. But the police would not provide any information on his whereabouts.

The family filed a petition with the Sindh High Court on January 12, 2010. On January 15, the court ordered the deputy attorney general and advocate general of Sindh to submit a report on Lango’s whereabouts within two weeks. On March 3, Sindh Deputy Attorney General Umer Hayat Sindhu told the court on behalf of the director general of the Intelligence Bureau that Lango had not been detained or arrested by the Intelligence Bureau, which, he explained, was “only an intelligence agency that does not detain anyone for interrogation.” Police representatives also told the court that Lango was not in their custody. No other security or intelligence authorities reported on Lango’s whereabouts.

On July 1, 2011, Lango’s body was found in an abandoned hotel near the Lakbado area of the town of Gadani, in Lasbela district of Balochistan. The local police, represented by the station house officer of the Gadani police station, told the local media: “The body bore multiple marks of brutal torture. The cause of death was stated to be a severe wound in the head, caused by a hard rod or some other hard or sharp object.” Lango appeared to have been recently killed.

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Siddique Eido and Yusuf Nazar

Siddique Eido, a coordinator for the highly regarded nongovernmental organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), and Yousaf Nazar, a tailor by profession, were abducted by men in security forces uniforms on December 21, 2010 from the town of Pasni in Gwadar district. Eido and Nazar were returning from Gwadar to their native Pasni after appearing in court in a criminal case lodged against them. Seven other co-accused and four police officers were travelling with them when their van was stopped by three unlicensed vehicles. The assailants, who were in Frontier Corps uniforms, abducted Eido and Nazar at gunpoint in the presence of the police officers. The bodies of both men were found in Ormara, Gwadar district, on April 28, 2011. Both bore marks of torture.

In response to the killings and the authorities’ failure to seriously investigate the case, HRCP said: “The uniforms of the abductors and the vehicles they had used gave credence to the belief that state agents were involved. Siddique had been abducted in the presence of several policemen, but despite such clear evidence no action was taken to publicly identify abductors or secure release.” HRCP added that “the degree of official inaction and callousness” amounted to “collusion” in Eido’s killing.

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Naseer Kamalan

Naseer Kamalan was abducted at gunpoint on November 5, 2010 from a passenger van on the Makran Coastal Highway near Pasni in Gwadar district. Kamalan’s fellow passengers told Human Rights Watch that his abductors were in Frontier Corps uniforms and were driving a jeep of the type commonly used by the Frontier Corps. Kamalan’s body was found on January 17, 2011, dumped on the Makran Coastal Highway.

Enforced Disappearance and Killing of Jamil Yaqub

Jamil Yaqub was abducted in the town of Turbat on August 28, 2010 by a group of men in Frontier Corps uniforms, who had arrived in a jeep with military markings and insignia. Family members described to Human Rights Watch how they hid from the Frontier Corps personnel and then watched helplessly as Yaqub was abducted during daylight hours. Yaqub’s body, bearing marks of torture, was found on February 10, 2011, on the outskirts of Turbat.

Other Killings Verified by Human Rights Watch

According to eyewitnesses, Hanif Baloch, a Baloch Students Organisation (Azad) (BSO-Azad) activist, was abducted from the town of Hub on July 4, 2011, by armed men in military uniform. His body was found on July 6, with three bullet wounds to his upper body.

On July 6, two bodies bearing multiple bullet wounds were found dumped near Juzak on the outskirts of Turbat in Kech district. Turbat District Headquarters Hospital authorities identified them as Azam Mehrab, a resident of Tump, and Rahim, son of Muhammad Yousaf, a resident of Go Kurth area of Mand, in Panjgoor district.

On June 18, the BSO-Azad junior joint secretary, Shafi Baloch, was abducted from the Lakhpass area of Mastung district. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that Baloch was going to Mastung from Quetta in a passenger van for medical treatment when uniformed, armed men in three cars made him disembark and abducted him at gunpoint. His bullet-riddled body was found dumped near Mach, in Bolan district, 60 kilometers from Quetta.

On June 1, Prof. Saba Dashtiyari, a professor at the University of Balochistan in Quetta and an acclaimed writer and poet, was killed after being shot repeatedly by unidentified gunmen on Sariab Road in Quetta. Dashtiyari was the author of several books on Baloch culture and language and was a scholar on Islam. In recent years, he had publicly backed the cause for an armed struggle to achieve an independent Balochistan. No one has claimed responsibility for Dashtiyari’s killing.

Source: Human Rights Watch