Sep 22, 2011

Balochistan: International Support Needed To Secure Baloch Rights

As reports of an increasingly desperate situation for the Baloch people continues, activists call for the involvement and support of the international community.

Below is an article published by the Daily Times:

 The international community must intervene in Balochistan to allow the Baloch to exercise their right to national self-determination like East Timor and South Sudan, says Noordin Mengal, a Baloch representative at the UN Human Rights Council and an activist who has highlighted the Baloch human rights issues at international forums.

Mengal has emphasised that the human rights situation in Balochistan is progressively worsening and has called on the international community to intervene in Balochistan, providing space and security to allow the Baloch nation to exercise their right to national self-determination, citing the cases of East Timor and South Sudan.

Speaking at an event held alongside the 18th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council entitled “Climate of Fear: Enforced Disappearances, Extra judicial Killings and Arbitrary Detention in Balochistan,” the grandson of veteran Baloch leaders Sardar Attaullah Mengal and Nawab Khair Baksh Marri said that the oppressed people of Balochistan have been victims of five brutal military operations by the Pakistan army since Balochistan was forcibly incorporated into Pakistan on March 27, 1948.

Addressing the event attended by foreign observers and human rights experts, Mengal said that thousands of Baloch have been subjected to enforced disappearance over the past decade and that the Pakistani military has adopted more heinous methods in the recent past. He added that since the ouster of former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf and the formation of a civilian government in Pakistan, atrocities in Balochistan have only risen.

“Since July 2010, nearly 200 mutilated bodies of the disappeared have been recovered across Balochistan.” He said that these include students, journalists, lawyers, political activists, academics and human rights defenders, who are dreadfully tortured in custody before they are riddled with bullets and dumped on the side of a road or in desolated areas. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have described the practice as “kill and dump” operations.

He noted that the bodies of many victims are severely burnt, their flesh pierced with electric drills, their nails are pulled out and some are subjected to such extreme torture that their corpses are found without a single bullet in their body.

He said that when the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan was introduced, the prime minister announced that all missing persons would return home. “And so they did, soon they started coming home, only dead,” said Mengal. Mengal provided an elaborate overview of recent extensive reports by renowned human rights organisations including Amnesty International, HRW and HRCP, which highlight the political nature of extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances in Balochistan and present substantive evidence of the complicity of the security forces in the human rights abuses. He also highlighted key points from the three reports. Earlier this year, Amnesty International called on Pakistan’s foreign allies including the US and China to “ensure military assistance is not linked to human rights abuses in Balochistan.”

Mengal referred to the HRCP mission’s report which observed that “the right to life and freedom from arbitrary detention are violated with impunity” in Balochistan and found that “all authority seems to vest with the security forces.” Mengal also drew attention to the killings of two coordinators of HRCP in Balochistan earlier this year.

Mengal said that Pakistan has continuously made efforts to subdue the Baloch movement for their right to national self-determination and has been usurping the wealth and natural resources of Balochistan.

“It is a fact that Pakistan would be unable to sustain its artificial existence without the resources of Balochistan”, he said.

He said that the Pakistani establishment has systematically been carrying out the political, social, economic, cultural, and physical genocide of the Baloch nation.

Mengal said that the current military operation has resulted in the indiscriminate killings of thousands of Baloch people, including women and children. He said that mass displacements of the people of Kohlu and Dera Bugti had been caused due to aerial bombings and ground offensives by the Pakistan army.

He added that political activists, students, journalists, lawyers, academics and human rights defenders have been subjected to enforced and involuntary disappearance in broad daylight while many have become victims of summary executions by the Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies.

Speaking about the Pakistan army’s growing presence, military operations and brutal atrocities in Balochistan, Mengal said it is also a sign of the military’s weakness and fear of the Baloch people becoming the masters of their own homeland and destiny.

He said that Pakistan is striving to suppress the voice of the Baloch people at all cost and has in desperation, resorted to acts such as enforced disappearances and political assassinations in hope of encumbering the growth of political consciousness among the Baloch. Mengal said that Pakistan is a threat to the Baloch identity and a deterrent to peace, stability, security and genuine development in the region. He said that the state was also behind fomenting instability in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“The international community, including the UN must intervene in Balochistan so that the Baloch people can exercise their right to national self-determination, like East Timor and South Sudan,” said Noordin Mengal.


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