Jan 31, 2017

West Balochistan: Case of Abducted Sailors Documents Corruption of Iranian Regime

Photo courtesy of Defence Images @flickr

After almost two years of being held captive by Somali pirates, eight – out of 21 – Baloch fishermen have recorded a video, desperately trying to raise their government’s attention. Sadly, four sailors are reported to have been tortured to death by their captors. Yet the Iranian regime has never attempted to free their nationals, nor have official news outlets even once reported on the story. This state inaction and public disinterest reaffirm the country’s thoroughly corrupted social system, where only those with money or political affiliations are able to draw the attention of the wider public.

Below is an article published by Balochwarna News:

In a separate attempt to get the attention of Iranian government and world humanitarian organisations Baloch sailors kidnapped and made hostage by Somalian Pirates made video footage to appeal for help for their release.

The physically weak and nervous men recorded only a few seconds only saying their names as Ibrahim Baloch Neha, Jalal Jalaldini Dehwari, Abdulla Nohani and Mohammad Sharif Panahenda, date of recording (26 December 2016) and appealing the government of Iran, UN, and other humanitarian organisation to do something to save their lives.

Nearly two years ago, Somalian pirates abducted 21 Baloch sailors who belong to very poor families from Konarak Balochistan. Later, four men managed to escape from the custody, four have reportedly died because of extreme torture and lack of proper food and water. There is no confirmed news about five of them. However, the latest videos show that 8 Baloch sailors are still alive and in the custody of Somalian Pirates.

Balochwarna News has learnt that the kidnappers have reportedly divided them into two groups and are apparently asking for $900,000 in return for their release.

The Iranian government officials in the period of these two years have done nothing for the release of the Baloch hostages neither has the Iranian media reported about their kidnapping.

The relatives of the hostage Baloch sailors say that they have asked the government for help on several occasions and told the government officials that they belong to poor families and have no affiliation with any group or party.

Even after the release of recent videos on the internet and new reports, the Iranian government officials are still saying that they did not know about the abduction of these men.

The governor of Sistan and Balochistan Mr Ali Osat Hashemi, claimed that he has notified the ministry of Foreign Affairs and other higher officials and that soon there would be good news about the hostages.  However, after the claim of Mr Hashimi, there was no news about the release of Baloch sailors.

Many Baloch fishermen have condemned the Iranian government for permitting outside trawlers to fish in the coast of Makuran Balochistan forcing the Baloch sailor to go thousands of miles away in extreme danger to fish in the coast of other countries.

Moreover, the Baloch activists have also questioned the Iranian government: “Are these Baloch sailors not Iranian citizens? They also asked if these people [sailors] were not Baloch would the government and state official still ignore them and do nothing to save their lives?

It is pertinent to mention that when the Baloch rebels from Jaish-ul-Adl kidnapped five Iranian border security forces, the state of Iran has used different venues for their release including taking help of Baloch tribal elders and scholars. The border security forces were released after successful negotiations.

However, the Iranian government officials have made no such efforts for the release of Baloch sailors as they did for the release border security forces. Even the Iranian state media has not reported this incident and ignored the abduction of Baloch sailors.

Baloch activists say the attitude and indifferent of the Iranian government toward Baloch sailors prove that value of a human life in Iran is not measured by their nationality but based on how influential and well-connected a person is to the Iranian regime.