UNPO and Balochistan Human Rights Group (BHRG) Condemn Airstrikes on Baluch Civilians, Urges Global Action Against Human Rights Abuses in Iran and Pakistan
The UNPO and BHRG denounce airstrikes carried out by Iran and Pakistan, resulting in the tragic loss of Baluch civilian lives in both countries. Baluch civilians are regularly targeted in both countries by their respective national governments. The current increase in hostilities between both States is resulting in an escalation of human rights abuses and oppression suffered by Baluch communities in both States. We call upon the international community to take a resolute stance against the intentional targeting of Baluch civilians in Pakistan and Iran.
On January 16, 2024, Iran conducted an airstrike targeting the Koh-e-Sabz area in Pakistan's southwest Balochistan province (Eastern Baluchistan), targeting major bases of the Baluch militant group Jaish al-Adl. This operation resulted in the loss of two Baluch children.
In retaliation on January 18, Pakistan conducted airstrikes targeting Saravan city in Sistan Baluchistan province (Western Baluchistan). Balochistan Human Rights Group (BHRG) information states that at least six children along with four Baloch women lost their lives, and one man and one woman sustained injuries. Pakistani authorities allege the attack was targeted at Baluch rebels known as "Sarmachar."
That Pakistan would retaliate to Iran’s bombing of Baluch militants by bombing a majority-Baluch city in Iran highlights the systematic use of Baluch citizens, by both Iran and Pakistan, as pawns. Both states, Pakistan and Iran, are failing in their obligation to protect and preserve the lives and human rights of the Baluch citizens within their borders.
For decades, both the Iranian and Pakistani governments have collaborated in suppressing Baluch citizens on both sides of the border, resulting in the persistent loss of Baluch civilian lives. According to Amnesty International's 2023 report (1), "members of Iran’s Baluchi ethnic minority account for around 20% of recorded executions while making up only about 5% of Iran’s population." The situation on the Pakistani side of the border is equally alarming. A 2020 Amnesty report (2) raised concerns about the enforced disappearance of Baluchs in Pakistan, stating, "Enforced disappearances targeting students, activists, journalists, and human rights defenders continue relentlessly in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan."
Iran and Pakistan have consistently maintained a tight grip on the Baluchistan region, systematically excluding Baluchs from decision-making processes and implementing discriminatory policies against them. Despite the rich resources in the Baluchistan provinces on both sides of the border, Baluch regions remain among the most impoverished in Iran and Pakistan. The Pakistan Labour Force Survey of 2014 (3) found that Balochistan has the highest unemployment rate in Pakistan. Similarly, Mehr News states that Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province has the highest unemployment rate in Iran.
The UNPO deplores the loss of innocent civilian life, condemning the actions of the governments of Iran and Pakistan. We call upon the international community to take a robust stand against the actions of Iran and Pakistan and to protect Baluch civilians.
Photo credit Mohammad Karimi