Banuk Karima Baloch speaks on the eve of March 27 Black Day
Ladies and gentlemen
I thank you for taking out time for this event.
We remember March 27 as the day when Balochistan lost its freedom and sovereignty to the occupying Pakistani armed forces in 1948.
Why should we get stuck to a political mishap that occurred 70 years ago? What does it matter if a piece of land is governed by one group of people or the other? Why should not we just accept Pakistani rule and get over it?
We did not just lose our self-rule or a piece of land to Pakistan on March 27. We lost our cultural identity and our language; we lost our right to a peaceful and safe life. Seventy years after that fateful event in 1948, we are forced to think that the occupation was the beginning of a slow-motion genocide of our people and our cultural identity that continues unabated till today.
What if March 27 never happened? What if Pakistan treated us equally after March 27? It is more likely we would not be bothered about remembering this day at all. But history has its own mind. So here we are, commemorating another March 27 for another year.
We usually talk about the political aspect of this historical mishap which is little known to the world. We try to remind the world that Pakistan flouted the international laws by sending its troops to Balochistan. That Balochistan was an independent and sovereign state before the British arrival in 1839. That Balochistan had treaties with British authorities which acknowledged the sovereignty of Balochistan. That Balochistan had never been a part of the sub-continent and it was destined to become an independent state after the British withdrawal. That Pakistani leaders, including Mohammed Ali Jinnah, acknowledged the sovereign status of Balochistan in treaties with British and Baloch authorities.
We never talk about the human side of it. We never talk about the human cost we had pay in the aftermath of March 27, 1948.
The Baloch people who have survived for thousands of years in history are at the verge of extinction because of a slow-motion and systematic genocide that started on that fateful day.
Earlier this month, the world mourned the extinction of northern white rhinos. I have read and heard about extinction of hundreds of animal species in history because of human intervention and manipulation of the eco-system. But witnessing first hand an animal species that has survived for millions of years to go extinct was an awful experience. Our future generations may never be able to see a living northern white rhino.
This reminds me of another unfortunate story that took place in the Island of Tasmania, 320 kilometers off the coast of Australia.
For 10,000 years, the indigenous population of Tasmania lived in the island in complete isolation. They had no contact with the rest of humanity. When the British colonized the island, it was inhabited by around 6,000 indigenous people. The indigenous Tasmanian people became extinct within 73 years of colonisation and the arrival of settlers.
The British not only introduced infectious diseases to the island of which the locals had no immunity, they also carried out a systemic genocide. They were displaced from their farming and hunting grounds. Their women and children were kidnapped. Children were used as domestic servants and women as concubines.
This all went on or carried out by European settlers because they believed the native Tasmanians are inferior creatures sub human uncivilized people this justified their elimination and occupation of others land. I can feel what they were feeling or any people faced with extinction not by the nature but because of the fellow men, men who believe they are somehow better or superior racially, culturally and can terminate other cultures, other people or other species. But believe me the loss is collective and its our lose, its our species’s lose. Today we have lost not only the Tasman people but the accumulated wealth of knowledge and wisdom they acquired through out centuries in their language and culture
Humanity has lost hundreds of people and their cultures due to war, famine and genocide. The clock is now ticking for the Baloch.
For seventy years or more, we, as a people, have been denied all the basic needs for survival. We have been hunted and killed in thousands. We have been displaced in hundreds of thousands. We have been tortured in secret military dungeons. Our villages have been bombarded by military helicopters and jets. Our houses have been burnt as collective punishment for our demand to life. We have been deprived of access to clean drinking water. We have been denied the right to practice our cultural values and use our language.
If we are forced to survive in similar hostile conditions it will not be long that the world would be mourning the extinction of the Baloch people as they photograph the death of the last surviving Baloch in the near future. Thousands of years of human experience and knowledge accumulated in our culture and language would die down with us.
We do not remember March 27 just because we lost our political sovereignty to Pakistan. We remember this day to remind ourselves and the rest of the world that the clock was set ticking on this day seventy years ago for our extinction. We understand that we cannot turn the clock back or unwind the unfortunate events of the past, yet we are prepared to do everything in our power to refuse to die out in silence.
If we want to make the world a better place, we need to make a promise to ourselves that we will not wait to mourn the death of the last northern white rhino. We have to act before the extinction happens.
The Baloch people are not a lost cause yet. We still have some time to save them.