No trace of forcibly disappeared Baloch children and students
At the midnight of October 27/28, 2017, Pakistan Rangers and ISI personnel raided houses of various Baloch families in different areas of Karachi, Sindh. These families belonged to different areas of the occupied Balochistan who had sought refuge in Karachi due to the ongoing armed conflict and the highhandedness of security forces in Balochistan.
During these raids, the forces tortured, harassed and humiliated women, and kidnapped several children and students.
From House No. B-59, Double Road Street, Phase-2, Gulshan-e-Hadeed Colony, Karachi, the forces kidnapped nine years old Aftab son of Muhammad Younas resident of Khuzdar, his cousin Muhammad Arif son of Muhammad Yousuf and their second cousin Rawat son of Taj Muhammad resident of Lakhoryan, Kalat, Balochistan.
From House No.131, Double Road Street, Phase-1, Gulshan-e- Hadeed Colony, Karachi, the forces kidnapped 12 years old Ulfat son of Altaf, 15 years old Farhad son of Anwar, 16 years old Abid son of Ashraf and 16 years old Sajjad son of Yar Jan. They belonged to Mashkay, Balochistan.
On the same night, the forces raided Apartment No.206, 2nd Floor, Lal Flat, Gulshan-e-Johar, Karachi, from where they abducted Nawaz Atta son of Atta Muhammad resident of Gichk, District Panjgur, Balochistan.
The same night, the forces abducted Ilyas son of Faiz from a rented house in Kohi Goth, Malir, Karachi. He too belonged from the Gichk area of district Panjgur, Balochistan.
All the abductees are students and most of them are children or are in their teens. Nawaz Atta is a student as well as a human rights defender serving as the Information Secretary of the Baloch Human Rights Organization (BHRO).
During the abduction of Nawaz Atta, security personnel physically assailed and severely beaten the inmates of the house due to which a woman, Farah Baloch daughter of Fazal, sustained serious injuries on her backbone.
Karachi is the biggest city of Pakistan wherein offices of the UN, several human rights watchdogs and media outlets are situated in a large number. Yet, these raids went unnoticed. No one paid heed to the unlawful actions of the security forces.
Only the Baloch Human Rights Organization took note of the issue and organized rallies and demonstrations outside the Karachi Press Club and tried to mobilize the civil society and media.
The Baloch National Movement and the Baloch Students Organization-Azad also called a shutter-down and wheel-jam strike against the said incident.
However, the Pakistani media completely ignored these protests. Like the media, Pakistani civil society and the so-called judiciary also ignored the abduction of Baloch children, teenagers and students. Only certain individuals and groups from the Pakistan civil society and human rights bodies participated in the rallies of the BHRO.
Pakistani media’s reluctance to report the highhandedness of security forces is mainly due to the fear and pressure of the army and secret agencies and partly due to their bias and narrow-minded approach towards the Baloch people and their freedom movement.
Pakistan’s security establishment has strictly banned the media from reporting human rights abuses relating to Balochistan or the Baloch. Instead of resisting such unlawful ban or pressure, the media has succumbed to the pressure, turning Balochistan into an information black hole.
The security establishment of Pakistan treats reporting of human rights violations in Balochistan as against the self-styled national and security interests of the country.
The commercial media of Pakistan prefers its commercial interests over its professional and moral obligations and has fully compromised on human rights issues in the occupied Balochistan.
Due to this opportunistic policy of the media, grave human rights violations by the Pakistan army and other security forces go unnoticed.
Baloch nationalist parties and human rights groups ran a campaign in Europe and other parts of world against the said enforced disappearances of the Baloch children and students. Similarly, Baloch activists launched campaigns on social media platforms to draw the attention of the UN and other human rights institutions, yet none of the relevant organs of the United Nations and human rights entities took serious notice of the incident.
This silence of international human rights bodies, civil society and media on the enforced disappearance of Baloch children encouraged Pakistan’s security forces to expand their operations against Baloch youths in Karachi and elsewhere. Enjoying the impunity, Pakistani secret agencies, on November 15, 2017, abducted Sanaullah Baloch, Secretary General of the BSO-Azad, along with Naseer Baloch, Hassam Baloch and Rafique Baloch.
On November 20, 2017, another Baloch student namely Sagheer Baloch was abducted by secret agencies from the canteen of the Karachi University. On December 15, 2017, another student of Science College, Quetta, namely Nasir Baloch son of late Mir Abdul Ghaffar Langove, was whisked away by security forces from Hudda, Quetta.
All these enforced disappearances are unlawful and in violation of the rights and freedoms which have been guaranteed in the so-called constitution of Pakistan and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and other relevant UN conventions and protocols to which Pakistan is a signatory. It enjoys EU Commission’s trade and business concessions because of its promises to safeguard these rights.
It is clear that Pakistan’s fragile parliament, judiciary and other civilian institutions are unable and unwilling to stand against and make accountable the powerful army and security establishment for their violations of human rights and other such crimes.
The gravity of enforced disappearances is evident from a recent statement of Senator Farhatullah Babar, addressed to the participants of a consultation meeting on the “prevalence of enforced disappearances”. He clearly stated that “parliament, Supreme Court and National Commission for Human Rights and other institutions have failed to address the issue of enforced disappearances, as it seems that people involved in this heinous crime are above the law”.
This is the atmosphere which emboldens the Pakistan Army and its spy agencies to commit human rights abuses with impunity and without the fear of accountability.
It has been now more than three months since the abduction of the above-mentioned Baloch children and students, but there is no trace of them, nor do their families have any information about their whereabouts and welfare. Their families do not know where and in what conditions their children are being kept.
It goes without saying how such inhuman treatment may affect the mental and physical health, education and the entire life of these children. The victim families, apparently, are helpless before the security forces. They do not know of any door which they can knock for help.
A majority of Pakistani society has been radicalized by the establishment for their ulterior motives of power thrust. This radicalized and extremist society of Pakistan has developed a bias against the secular Baloch people due to their struggle and demand for an independent Balochistan. Therefore, the people of Pakistan, except for a few individuals, have never been seen or heard to have condemned the enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and other state atrocities on the Baloch people.
In this prevailing situation, Pakistani parliament, judiciary, media and civil society are reluctant to take the issue of human rights abuses committed by security agencies against the Baloch people. Therefore, it is the duty of the United Nations, its relevant agencies, human rights organizations, the European Union and the world powers to take appropriate action against Pakistan for its human rights abuses against the voiceless Baloch people.
Pakistan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other UN conventions. It is also a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Yet, it is openly involved in kidnapping of Baloch children and students, and other grave violations of human rights. It is ironic that Pakistan, a member of the UNHRC, has kept Baloch children, teens and students at undisclosed torture cells while it sat free Hafiz Saeed, a UN-designated terrorist, and Sufi Muhammad of Malakand, a notorious jihadist and the leader of the Nafaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi, which sends thousands of armed men to Afghanistan for jihad.
In such circumstances, it is unrealistic to expect from any Pakistani institution to play a role for the safe recovery of the above-mentioned kidnapped children and students. However, we urge the UNO, the UN Secretary General, the UNHRC, the President of the UN Human Rights, the Amnesty international, the UNICEF, the Human Rights Watch and all other human rights defenders to take an urgent action for the safe release of the Baloch children and students.
We need your kind attention.
Chairman Baloch National Movement (BNM)
@BNMovement_ Dated: 04/02/2018