Nov 10, 2010

Balochistan is bleeding, but Geneva is sleeping

A Baloch human rights defender deplored that world's No. 1 humanitarian organization I.C.R.C. stayed away from a conference aimed at drawing world attention to the plight of victims of enforced disapperances and their families in Balochistan.


Below is an article published by Pakistan Christian Post:


'Balochistan is bleeding and Geneva is sleeping,' Ahmar Mustikhan, a member of the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons said Monday . 'That is why we are here today.


'I mean the reason why we chose to hold this conference here in Geneva is that Geneva is the human rights capital of the world and the world appears to have forgotten about the human rights violations in Balochistan,' Mustikhan told the Geneva Conference on Enforced Disappearances in Balochistan at the Warwick Hotel in center of Geneva.


Following is the full text of Mustikhan's speech.


Secondly, the United Nation Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances is holding its 30th anniversary in Geneva. This premier body is one of the few in which the Baloch people are putting their faith in.


We have come here because this is the city that gave birth to one of the greatest men in history, Henry Dunant. This is the city where Henry Dunant's vision today stands as the huge building that dispatches angels of mercy all over the world. I have here to ask the International Committee Red Cross. I have come to urge them please bring Balochistan -- the land of the Baloch -- on the agenda of safeguarding the international humanitarian law.


There is a war going on in Balochistan not many people have heard about. That war is a war of liberation. Baloch have an issue: they are not Pakistanis and no amount of extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances or torture is going to change their stance.


A paragraph from a news item may give some understanding of what is going on in Balochistan. The paragraph reads: The victims were shot in the forehead and a bullet passed through the skull besides signs of torture on their faces, hands and other parts of their bodies. Their hands were also tied to the back of their body with ropes. “I have attended several bodies. All of them were killed similarly,” said Dr Baqer Shah from the Bolan Medical College Teaching Hospital.


Enforced disappearances in Balochistan continue unabated as the situation worsens and the recovery of the number of bullet-riddled bodies in Balochistan is at an all-time high.


I must congratulate Amnesty International's Sam Zarifi for noticing Pakistan's human rights violations in Balochistan in a report published in the last week of October.


The Pakistani government must investigate the torture and killings of more than 40 Baloch leaders and political activists over the past four months, Amnesty International said.


Activists, politicians and student leaders are among those who have been targeted in enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of torture and other ill-treatment.


“The Pakistani government must act immediately to provide justice for the growing list of atrocities in Balochistan,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director.


“Baloch political leaders and activists are clearly being targeted and the government must do much more to end this alarming trend.”


.Among the latest victims of the ongoing violence are Faqir Mohammad Baloch and Zahoor Baloch, whose bodies were discovered in the district of Mastung on 21 October 2010. Faqir Mohammad Baloch, a poet and member of the Voice of Missing Baloch Missing Persons, was abducted on 23 September.


Zahoor Baloch, a member of the Baloch Student Organization-Azad was abducted on 23 August. According to media reports, both received a single bullet wound to the head at point blank range and showed signs of being tortured.


The discovery of the two men’s bodies is part of a growing trend of “kill and dump” operations. Bullet-ridden bodies of those who have been abducted, many showing signs of torture, are increasingly being found across Balochistan. Previously, the bodies of missing persons were rarely recovered.


Yasin Baloch, a member of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons and brother of Mujeeb Baloch, senior member of BSO-Azad, who had also been abducted, was shot by unidentified gunmen near Roshare Kalat on 10 October.


Mustikhan said he spoke with Yasin Baloch a month earlier in September in connection with filling out the form of his brother for the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.




I was really impressed by his enthusiasm. He was a true Baloch patriot. I asked him which secret agency abducted his brother and his response was the military intelligence. I very well recall he even mentioned the 333 brigade for carrying out worst atrocities on the Baloch people.


Mustikhan cited the AI report as saying a previously unknown organization, Sipah-e Shuhada-e Balochistan, has also claimed responsibility for some of the killings.


“The Pakistan government’s ongoing failure to prevent abuses has emboldened the perpetrators behind these atrocities,” said Sam Zarifi.


“The Pakistani government must show that it can and will investigate the Pakistani military and Frontier Corps, as well as intelligence agencies, who are widely accused of playing a role in these incidents.”


While expressing his gratitude, Mustikhan said the Amnesty report made one big mistake, however.


"It says local people in Balochistan are demanding a bigger share of the revenue generated by the province's natural resources, principally natural gas, which they believe now disproportionately benefit other provinces. he said this was not the case as Baloch people want nothing less than freedom.


According to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols


- civilians must be treated humanely; in particular, violence to their life and person is prohibited, as are all kinds of torture and cruel treatment, the taking of hostages, and the passing of sentences without a fair trial;


- the armed forces must always distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives. It is prohibited to attack civilians and civilian objects, and all precautions must be taken to spare the civilian population;


- it is prohibited to attack or destroy objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population (e.g. foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and irrigation works); it is prohibited to use starvation as a method of warfare;


Unfortunately, all such atrocities and even worst are happening under the very nose of the I.C.R.C.


Mustikhan met some I.C.R.C. officials, who had described this conference as "political." We protested, they apologized verbally.


The I.C.R.C. has now promised that it will "look into" establishing a 24-hour telephone hotline in Balochi and Brahuvi languages to enable victim families to contact them so they can immediately probe cases of extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture.