Originally published by Peoples Dispatch.
Within a span of one month in December, at least 63 people were abducted and 37 killed in the southwestern Balochistan province of Pakistan, according to the Human Rights Commission of Balochistan (HMRB). Some of the victims were allegedly abducted at the behest of Pakistani intelligence agencies which have a reputation of being involved in enforced disappearances in the region.
Incidences of enforced disappearance have been taking place routinely in Balochistan. In the province’s Kech district, five people reportedly went missing after being detained allegedly by government forces on January 17.
A record number of people went missing in Pakistan in 2021, especially in Balochistan. 952 cases were recorded in the country between January and April last year, with at least 714 cases reported in March, mostly from Balochistan.
Rights groups like Voice for Baloch Missing Persons maintain that the total number of disappearances is much higher as there are a large number of families that are reluctant to go public for fear of reprisal from the authorities.
On December 1, plainclothes intelligence officers allegedly raided the hostel of the Gwadar campus of Turbat University and abducted two students, Jamil Sadiq and Ramez Akhtar, who were residents of Pisshokan, Gwadar.
Previously, two students, Suhail Baloch and Faisullah, went missing after reportedly being picked up by unknown persons on the night of November 1. Following this, students of Balochistan University went on a two-week protest campaign seeking information on their whereabouts. The campaign gained widespread solidarity from students, including from Quetta’s Sardar Bahadur University. Several unions came forward and offered solidarity such as the Pashtun Students Federation from Islamia College, Peshawar, and the Baloch Students Union, Multan. The whereabouts of the two students remain unknown.
Informational general secretary of the Balochistan Student Union, Balach Qadir, expressed concern that the two may have been subjected to enforced disappearance. He said that the student union was first assured by the government committee that they would be recovered within three days but these promises were not fulfilled.
Personnel of the paramilitary Frontier Corps are accused of abducting Abul Raheem from Gawak village in Mand, Kech district, on December 2. In another instance, the security forces raided the house of Ameer Khan Mir Khan in Sibbi and took him away. He remains missing ever since. One the same day, members of the security forces allegedly picked up Jalal Khan Mashkiani from the Shahrag area of Harnai district. There have been no reports on his whereabouts since.
Zafar Abdul Wahid, who hails from Malar area of Awaran, was forcibly abducted by the security forces on December 15. On the same day, Shah-ur-Rehman, a medical student, was abducted in a similar manner from Quetta. Dozens others have gone missing after allegedly being picked up by security personnel. Shakir Abdul Samad’s house was raided in Panjgur on December 3. He also remains missing. The HRCB also estimates that in November 2021 at least 68 people were subjected to enforced disappearance in Balochistan, most of them being students.
Meanwhile, according to some estimates, nearly 37 people were killed by unknown gunmen in different parts of Balochistan in December. Some of the bodies have been found dumped in abandoned areas. At least five members of the United Baloch Army, an armed nationalist group, were also killed in the region last month.
Amnesty International’s report Living Ghosts claims that “Disappearances are a tool of terror that strikes not just individuals and families, but entire societies. This is why enforced disappearances are a crime under international law and, if committed as part of a systematic attack against a civilian population, they constitute a crime against humanity.”
According to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, at least 415 new cases of enforced disappearances were recorded across Pakistan last year. This number was around 800 in 2019 and 1,098 in 2018. However, such conservative figures on enforced disappearances are contested by activists who argue that the actual number is much higher.
As per the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, there were 1,144 cases of allegations of enforced disappearances in Pakistan between 1980 and 2019, with 731 people still missing.
Originally published by Peoples Dispatch.
Author: Peoples Dispatch
Peoples Dispatch, formerly The Dawn News, is an international media project with the mission of bringing to you voices from people’s movements and organizations across the globe. Since its establishment three years ago, it has sought to ensure that the coverage of news from around the world is not restricted to the rhetoric of politicians and the fortunes of big companies but encompasses the richness and diversity of mobilizations from around the world. Peoples Dispatch also seeks to bring to you breaking news from a perspective widely different from that of the mainstream media.