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Rally held against ‘forced disappearances’ in Pakistan

By Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: Exiled Baloch leader Hyrbyair Marri has alleged that a particular “school of thought” in Balochistan is being subjected to abuse because the establishment hates their views on Balochistan issue.

The former provincial minister, who has been living in exile for nearly a decade now, led a protest against disappearances in Balochistan which started from outside Pakistan High Commission and marched all the way to 10 Downing Street where a rally was held. Nearly 100 Baloch activists and their supporters attended the march and raised slogans against enforced disappearances. The march was organised by the International Committee Against Disappearances (ICAD) and International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. The protestors carried banners condemning the alleged disappearances and pictures of the missing persons.

“We are here to show solidarity with the relatives of the missing persons whose dear ones have been abducted and tortured for speaking about their fundamental rights. Those abducted have been subjected to worst kind of torture; their bodies are being drilled and poisoned.

The kill and dump policy is in full action and nothing has changed in the last few months,” Hyrbyair Marri said. He claimed that thousands of Balochs were missing and these are mainly the “pro-independence” activists and their relatives.

Graham Williamson, who represented Nations Without States during the protest, told The News that disappearances had become a worldwide phenomenon and states such as India, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq and Sri Lanka routinely “disappear” people with dissenting views. That, he held, was condemnable and unacceptable in the 21st century where people expect to have more democratic rights than ever before.

Faiz Baloch from International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons said it was Baloch people’s right to live free from torture. He appealed to Pakistan’s liberal voices to speak against assassination, political imprisonment and reprisals against nationalists. Eylen from ICAD said she was taking part in the protest because her organisation was especially concerned with the cases in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and elsewhere where “enforced disappearances are reported to be happening on a widespread scale”. She called on Pakistan to investigate the reports of enforced disappearances and apply international standards of justice and not violate the rights of any category of people.