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Forcible disappearances of Baloch students

  • Sun Online Desk
  • 7th July, 2022 01:12:51 PM
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Forcible disappearances of Baloch students

Amnesty International (AI) describes victims of enforced disappearances as people “who have literally disappeared.” According to AI, these are victims who go missing when state officials grab them from the streets or from their homes and then deny it, or refuse to say where they are.

In Balochistan, the political parties, human rights organisations and family members of the victims of enforced disappearances mostly use the term “missing person(s)” to describe the victims of enforced disappearances. However, in this report terms “enforced disappearances” or “forcibly disappeared” have been used interchangeably define the practice In compliance with standards of international human rights organisations.

This report will give a brief background of the practice of enforced disappearances in Balochitan. It will primarily focus on the disappearances of Baloch students and will provide summary and detailed data of all reported forcible disappearances of Baloch students from January 2022 till end of May 2022. The report will also include the reaction by political and human rights groups against these disappearances. In the end the report will expound on the likely reasons of forcible disappearances of Baloch students.

Introduction & Summary

The practice of enforced disappearances has become a norm for the people of Balochistan since the early 2000s. The personnel of Pakistani secretive agencies accompanied by personnel of Pakistani Army or Frontier Corps have disappeared tens of thousands of Baloch people in last two decades. The victims of enforced disappearances mostly include the youth but there have been various incidents of abductions of Baloch women, children, and elderlies too.

These disappeared people include political activists, journalists, teachers, doctors, poets, lawyers and members of other walks of the life. However, one of the most targeted sections of the public in Balochistan has been the students.

In last two decades, scores of Baloch students have been disappeared. Many of the forcibly disappeared students have been killed and dumped. Whereas, thousands are still believed to be languishing in Pakistani torture cells. The missing also include several student leaders including Zakir Majeed Baloch, Zahid Baloch, Shabbir Baloch and others.

The enforced disappearances have seen a spike in the past few months throughout Balochistan and in various major cities of Pakistan, especially since BLA’s deadly attack targeting Chinese nationals at Karachi University. Most of the victims are students who are allegedly picked up by the Pakistani intelligence agencies in raids on houses and hostels and extra-legally kept in custody.  Rights campaigners and student leaders claim that out of desperation, the Pakistani forces have cracked down on innocent students.

Since the start of this year to the end of May 2022, at least 48 Baloch students have been forcibly disappeared from different cities of Balochistan and other major cities of Pakistan. Rights groups, particularly Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, believe the real number of disappearances is much higher than what is reported to media. They maintain that a large number of families are threatened not to go public, or their loved ones will be harmed.

Only a handful of the detainees have been released and the majority are still missing.

Detailed Data

 

Following are details of the 48 cases reported in media in first 5 months of 2022

 

JANUARY – Total abductions 7

 

On 1st January 2022, Bilal s/o Inayatullah was disappeared from Kanteen Khorasi area of district Washuk, District Kech. He was a resident of Washuk.

On 7th January 2022, Obaid s/o Wazir and Didak s/o Attaullah were disappeared by the Frontier Corps from Washuk, District Kech. Both were residents of Washuk.

On 20th January 2022, Sameer s/o Mohammad Bakhsh, was disappeared from Aabsir area of Turbat, District Kech. He was a student of Punjab University in Lahore, and was in Turbat for vacations.

On 21st January 2022, two college students Adam Baloch and Imran Baloch were disappeared from Muslim Town area of Lahore in Punjab. Both were residents of Hoshaab, Balochistan.

On 22nd January 2022, Alamzaib s/o Ustad Aurangzaib Mulahi was disappeared from Kharan. He was a resident of Kharan.

February – Total abductions 8

On 5th February, a student Waheed Baloch was disappeared from Noshki.

On 6th February, a teenage student Haroon Waleed s/o Haji Nisar Ahmed was forcibly disappeared from Mengal street in Quetta.

On 8th February Hafeez Baloch was picked up in front of his students from his hometown in Khuzdar. Hafeez Baloch is a student of M.Phil in Physics at Quaid-e-Azam University of Islamabad.

 

 

Protest in Islamabad against enforced disappearance of Mphil Scholar Hafeez Baloch

On 9th February Saqib Zaib Sarparah and Farhad Sarparrah were disappeared from Quetta.

On 13th February Saud Sarparrah and Sudes Sarparrah, students of grade 10th and 11th were disappeared from Faizabad in Quetta.

On 27th February Dilip Baloch, a student of Masters in English Literature at Islamia University of Bhawalpur Punjab was disappeared while travelling from Punjab to Quetta. He is a resident of Barkhan, Balochistan.

March – Total abductions 8

On 9th March 2022, Khalid Munir and Salman Ghafoor were forcibly disappeared from their houses during a raid in Gomazi area of Turbat. Both are students of Balochistan Residential College Turbat.

On 20th March, four students Shafi s/o Dildar, Namee s/o Rahmat, Ghulam Jan s/oSalem Muhammad and Akbar s/o Master Aslam were forcibly disappeared when they were returning home for vacations from Turbat University, where they were studying. All four students are residents of Shapuk, district Kech.

On 29th March, Adam s/o Muhammad Ali & Imran s/o Shabbir Ahmed were disappeared from a tea stall in Muslim Town Lahore. Both are residents of Tejaban, Turbat and are undergrad students in a university in Punjab.

April – Total abductions 6

On 25th April, Kalim Sharif was forcibly disappeared from Aapsir, Turbat. He is a student of Masters in Balochi literature at Turbat University.

On 27th April, Beebarg s/o Imdad, was forcibly disappeared from a student hostel in Punjab University. Beebarg, a resident of Aapsir Turbat, is a student of English Literature in National University Lahore. Beebarg’s abduction was caught on video, which went viral after TBP shared it on its social media accounts.

Beebarg Imdad, being forcibly disappeared by personnel of Pakistani secretive agencies

On 27th April 2022, Dr Dildar Imdad was forcibly disappeared from Karachi. He is a doctor and was specialising in cardiology in Karachi at the time of his abduction. He was released few days later.

On 28th April 2022, Saeed s/o Muhammad Omar was disappeared from Malir in Karachi. He was a student in Russia and had come to Pakistan to visit his family. He hailed from Dasht in District Kech.

On 29th April, Shoaib s/o Azam Khan and Najeeb s/o Abdul Rasheed were disappeared from Karachi. Najeeb was a student of M. Phil Sociology at Karachi University. Shoaib is a resident of Nal Garrok in Khuzdar, whereas, Najib is a resident of Kech in Bulaida.

May – Total abductions 19

On 1st May 2022, Yasir s/o Hamid was forcibly disappeared from his house during a raid in Hub Chowki Balochistan.

On 2nd May 2022, Atiq Mengal was forcibly disappeared from his house in Noshki. Atiq is a medical student.

On 4th May 2022, Ali s/o Bakhshi and Asghar s/o Isa, were forcibly disappeared from Karachi. Ali was released few days later, but abducted again on 20th May.

On 5th May 2022, 16 year old Sajli Ali s/o Kamal Khan Sasoli was forcibly disappeared from his house in Mastung. Ali was a student of 9th grade.

On 6th May 2022, Shahbaig s/o Wali Dad was forcibly disappeared from a military post in Panjgur, when he was travelling from Turbat to Quetta. Members of public blocked the highways and surrounded the military camp. After several hours of protest Pakistani forces had no choice but to release Shahbaig.

On 7th May 2022, Zahoor Bloch was forcibly disappeared from Hub Chowki Balochistan. Zahoor is a student in Lasbella University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences.

On 11th May 2022, Asif Baloch was forcibly disappeared from Hub Chowki. He is a college student.

On 11th May 2022, Feroz s/o Noor Baksh was forcibly disappeared from Arid University in Rawalpindi. He is a resident of Aapsir, Turbat and was studying B.Ed degree.

On 12th May 2022, Qambar Saleem was forcibly disappeared from Karachi. He is a resident of Bulaida, Kech and was studyng BS Agriculture at Karachi University

On 12th May 2022, Irfan s/o Abdul Rasheed was forcibly disappeared from Gulshan-e-Iqbal Karachi. He was a student oof Biochemistry at karachi University.

On 12th May, Abdul Wahid s/o Ramzan was forcibly disappeared from Lyari in Karachi.

On 18th May 2022, Mphil scholar, Muslim s/o Allah Baksh and Mir Ahmed were forcibly disappeared from Quetta. Both were released after strong protests.

On 22nd May 2022, two students Ali and Israr were forcibly disappeared from Maripur in Karachi.

On 25th May 2022, Abrar s/o Imam and Karim Jan s/o Fazal were disappeared from Turbat. Both are students of Atta Shaad Degree College, Turbat.

On 29th May, Inzamam Zehri was disappeared from his house in Kharan.

Reactions of Political Parties, Human Rights Groups and the Public:

The issue of enforced disappearances is currently the biggest dilemma of Balochistan. The practise has become so prevalent in Balochistan that barely a day passes by without the news of someone’s abduction somewhere. There is not a single family in Balochistan, whose member or a relative has not been forcibly disappeared. Therefore, the issue has attracted strong political and social attention.

In Balochistan, almost every other day the families of forcibly disappeared persons carry out protest demonstrations and press conferences to draw the attention of authorities and human rights groups.

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organisation formed by the family members of forcibly disappeared persons, has been one of the main groups which has campaigned against the practice of enforced disappearances. VBMP has setup a token hunger strike camp that is believed to the longest protest in the region. It has continued for more than 4,670 days.

In a statement released earlier this year, VBMP had said that the Pakistani authorities are involved in “enforced disappearances” in Balochistan. VBMP leader Mama Qadeer said that whenever someone has raised their voice for their rights, they have been pressured into silence. The rulers of Pakistan violently quell any resistance against their rule. The security forces – the FC, the CTD, Police – are systemically “abducting” and killing innocent Baloch civilians only because they dare to raise their voice for their rights.

Similarly, VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch said that those guilty of a crime should be legally prosecuted, and the families of the missing persons should be supported and compensated by the government. He said that if the authorities ignore our demands, we will organize protests throughout Balochistan and in other major cities, like Karachi and Islamabad.

VBMP also undertook a long march on foot from Quetta to Karachi and then to Islamabad.

Human Rights Council of Balochistan, an organisation that documents human rights violations in Balochistan, in its annual report of 2021 said that students remained the main target of military and its shadow organizations, both in Balochistan as well as in other provinces of Pakistan. A large number of Balochistan’s students were also forcibly disappeared in 2021.

Baloch National Movement (BNM), is a political party that is striving for independence of Balochistan. In a media statement in May 2022, the group said that the cases of enforced disappearances of Baloch students and youth are

increasing every single day. The group said that the practice is planned attempt to deprive the Baloch nation of its intelligentsia, as the Pakistani military had done in Bangladesh. The BNM warned that they will not remain silent against the oppression of the state of Pakistan. They will write letters to the UN bodies and other relevant human rights organisations for keeping silent and speaking for Balochistan and it’s people.

VBMP also undertook a long march on foot from Quetta to Karachi and then to Islamabad. Similarly Baloch Yakjehti Committee during a press conference earlier in June condemned the crackdown on Baloch youth and criticized the authorities for its inaction in putting an end to this practice. Addressing the media in front of the Karachi Press Club, BYC organizer Amna Baloch and activist Sammi Deen Baloch said that the Pakistani authorities considers every Baloch a terrorist. They said that Baloch students are being picked up from different universities and the government is doing nothing about it.

Baloch Yakjehti Committee has also held several protests in Quetta, Karachi, Islamabad and other cities against the enforced disappearances.

Why are the Students being Targeted?

The practice of enforced disappearance is used by authoritative states as a strategy to spread terror within society. The feeling of insecurity and fear the enforced disappearances generates is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared, but also affects communities and society as a whole.

The agents of repressive states often perpetrate this crime, which, with complete impunity, “gets rid” of people that it considers a “nuisance”: no arrest warrant, no charge, no prosecutions.

Balochistan is home to an independence movement, where several armed and nonarmed organisations have been struggling to achieve an independent Balochistan since 1948. There have been five phases of Baloch resistance movements, however, unlike the past the current phase has a significant involvement of Baloch students. Majority of the armed and non-armed groups are being led by former or current student leaders.

The Pakistani authorities believe that student groups are providing the cadres for the armed groups. Therefore, students are picked up on slight suspicions after every incident in an attempt to obtain or extract information from them.

The practice is also being used to create fear amongst the other students and deter them from joining the liberation movement.

Baloch political parties also claim that the enforced disappearances of students are linked to Pakistani attempt of depriving the Baloch society from its intelligentsia. They allege that this is a calculated practice to impede the progression of Baloch society.

There are sheer levels of uncertainties in Balochistan, but what is for certain is that the enforced disappearances of  Baloch youth particularly the students has created great terror in the society. The students and their family members live under the continuous fear of who is going to be the next person on the posters?

 

Source: Iffras