Feb 12, 2010

Balochistan: Government Releases List of those who have ‘Disappeared”

Active ImageMore than 168 children have disappeared from Balochistan, a war crime tribunal should be constituted.
Below is an article published by Asian Human Rights Commission:

Among the lists of disappeared persons from Balochistan province are the names of 168 children and 148 women. Two lists of disappeared persons were released separately, one by Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an NGO which works to document the cases of missing persons from the area and the other by the Provincial Interior Ministry of Balochistan. The missing people have allegedly been taken by Pakistani intelligence agencies for interrogation over their alleged link to Balochistan separatists and other militant groups in the country.

The Provincial Ministry issued a list of 992 persons on December 10, 2009 who were missing from different areas of Balochistan. Home ministry officials said the list was issued along with bio data provided by the government under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan, a package announced by the federal government which is working towards reconciliation with the people of Balochistan. The Chief Minister of the province of Balochistan, Sardar Aslam Raisani, said on January 13th that there are 999 people from Balochistan missing, and only four have been recovered.

VBMP’s list of the disappeared persons details the names, fathers’ names, age and location from which the person is said to have disappeared. The age of missing children ranges from four years to eighteen years, and the majority of these children are girls. The list also shows that 148 women are missing. Please see the following links from the government of Balochistan for the list of the 983 missing persons: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11, 12 and the lists documented by Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP): 13 , 14 .

Baloch nationalists claim that more than 4000 persons have disappeared since 2001when the military government of General Musharraf initiated army actions for the construction of cantonments in different areas to usurp the natural resources of this province. In a statement released after the lists were issued, the Chief Minister of Balochistan confirmed that more than 70 women and children disappeared during the military operations of former president, General Musharraf.

According to the findings presented by the government to the Supreme Court, about 1600 people have gone missing before and during 2008. Of these people, 1300 went missing after the death of Baloch separatist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in 2006 and the military operations launched against Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in 2007.

It is reported that when the military government conducted these operations with the help of aerial bombardment, particularly in the Balochistan districts of Dera Bugti in 2005, more than 250,000 people migrated to other places within and outside of the province. During the migration, it was reported that many families were hounded by security forces, namely the army and Frontier Corps (FC), to prove the innocence of their families in the face of accusations that certain family members were part of the resistance movement against the establishment of cantonment areas, or are not members of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). If such accusations were leveled, the whole family or tribe was taken into custody and their whereabouts are since unknown.

One particular case that was unearthed by Mr. Munir Megal, the director of Baloch Television station when he was arrested and kept incommunicado in army torture cells, is that of Zarina Baloch, who was a sex slave for army officials in a military torture cell in Karachi. Previous statements pertaining to this case can be found here: http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1843/ and http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1855/ .

The Dera Bugti and Kohlu areas of Balochistan were previously under the influence of former Governor of province, Mr. Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti, who was assassinated by the military government in August 2006 during an aerial attack on his hideout. Before his murder, former General Musharraf reportedly threatened that Mr. Bugti would be targeted in a manner that he would be unable to anticipate.

The AHRC is deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the 168 missing children. These numbers speak to the deplorable state that the political system has descended to, where government and military officials willingly set aside their professional obligations to the people of Pakistan in the name of personal, political gain that sacrifices the wellbeing of the people.

The Asian Human Rights Commission strongly urges the government and members of Parliament to form a war crime tribunal, consisting of jurists and laureates, to investigate these disappearances. The tribunal must work to prosecute army officials who are responsible for the illegal arrest and disappearances of children and must swiftly bring their actions to justice. We call for an understanding of the violence that emanates from the state. We call for an accountability of those in positions of public power.