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Balochistan mourns: nine bodies recovered in three days

By Wendy Johnson

In the course of just three days, the tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of nine activists and students have turned up on roadsides in Balochistan. The names of the identified are: Rashid Ali, Shafi Mohammad, Sameer Rind, Abdul Mutalib Baloch, Ghulam Ullah Baloch, Abdul Waheed Baloch.

Back in October, 2010, Sameer was the tenth person I added to this sortable database of Baloch missing and extrajudicially killed persons. I remember his face well--he looked like any hip and confident student--the type who is capable of studying wherever his talents and smarts might take him. Sameer never had a chance to explore those options, however, for he was raised in Balochistan, where today students and activists and journalists face untold horrors if their words or political writings offend Pakistan's army and/or intelligence agencies. In some cases, the abducted are not even politically active.

In America, 'Occupy' movements are currently spreading like wildfire across the country. There have been arrests, but legal teams are present and volunteer their time to monitor cases and to see that people are released more or less in a timely fashion and that no one gets lost in the system. As I witness these protests, I can't help but think how different are the experiences of Baloch and US activists. In Pakistan, for example, some of these same persons would've been disappeared, only to turn up in some roadside ditch with a bullet to the brain.

What is even more insane--no one investigates these crimes in Pakistan. Not one murder of any of the Baloch in this database has been solved. Incredibly, there are almost always numerous eye-witnesses to the abductions and many clear patterns established in relation to the murders and dumping of bodies. If one dared, or cared to investigate, and if one could actually gather and work with the mountains of evidence that would normally be gathered in a country that wasn't completely dysfunctional, one would discover that there is very little mystery associated with these murders. The problem, however, is that those who are in positions to investigate these crimes are cowed by Pakistan's all-powerful military and its 'security' and 'intelligence' agencies who effectively strike fear in well-intentioned individuals with very real threats to life and limb.

Many Baloch have been trying to work with the system--waiting patiently for the world's institutions and organizations to do their thing. The Baloch, however, can't wait any longer for human rights organizations to achieve some kind of critical mass of support, or for Pakistan to reform its institutions. The Baloch are dying and the murders are only escalating.

It is time for the International Criminal Court to step in to investigate these murders. In the case of journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad, who was abducted, tortured and murdered in May, 2011, the Americans determined that the I.S.I. had ordered the hit. One wishes that U.S. intelligence would similarly apply some of its formidable intelligence surveillance--put some of America's taxpayer dollars to good use--and help the Baloch. With the International Criminal Court investigating, and U.S. intelligence abilities, we could surely begin to identify these serial killers who have developed such a taste for torture and murder. If no one is willing to accept the challenge, perhaps Anonymous hactivists, in the spirit of 'desperate times call for desperate measures' will find some time in their busy worldwide schedule of hacktivities (Egypt at the moment), to help uncover secrets that may lie buried in Pakistan's agency phone records and emails. In any case, one can always dream.