Balochistan: The Ongoing Protests and Rising Cases of Forced Disappearances

The protest against the Baloch genocide in front of the Islamabad Press Club has now entered its third phase. Concurrently, demonstrations of solidarity have been recorded in different countries, including Canada, America and Germany, as well as various areas within Balochistan.

Amidst the ongoing protests, a significant number of participants have been arrested and transported to undisclosed locations. Simultaneously, their residences have been subjected to raids and The disturbing pattern of forced disappearances continues unabated, despite the massive protests against the genocide.

International solidarity

Demonstrations against the Baloch genocide and in support of Baloch protesters in Islamabad were observed in Canada and Germany. Organised by the Baloch National Movement, these protests involved diverse communities such as Baloch, Sindhi, and Pashtun, with notable participation from exiled Baloch political activists and civil society members.

Meanwhile another protest took place in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., in support of the ongoing long march in Balochistan against the Baloch Genocide. The protestors, including children and people from various communities, spoke about the ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in Balochistan. They demanded that President Joe Biden take action to stop the Baloch genocide.

Balochistan in Unison

Thousands of people, including women, children, and relatives of forcibly disappeared persons, came out on the streets in various areas of Balochistan, including Panjgur, Turbat, Dalbandin, Nushki, Kalat, Gwadar, Hub, Barkan, Kohlu, Khuzdar, Kharan, Awaran, Uthal and Karachi in the Sindh province, to show solidarity with the ongoing protest in Islamabad against the Baloch genocide.

The protestors held up pictures of forcibly disappeared persons and various placards and banners, demanding the prevention of enforced disappearances and calling for the recovery of the Baloch missing by Pakistani intelligence agencies.

According to the speakers, Balochistan is currently experiencing widespread protests. However, rather than addressing the demonstrators’ demands, the state is assembling death squads in Islamabad to counter their just and genuine protest. The speakers stressed that the families have straightforward and clear demands: the safe recovery of their loved ones and if there are any charges against them, they should be presented before the courts.

The state’s interference

The state aims to sabotage the anti-genocide movement in various ways. According to reports, families participating in the sit-in, seeking the recovery of missing persons, are facing raids and harassment by death squads.

The Pakistani Forces personnel, accompanied by civilian armed men, reportedly raided the houses of Gaddafi Neichari and Kifayatullah Neichari for their family’s participation in the march against the Baloch genocide at Islamabad Press Club, advocating for the safe recovery of their loved ones. According to BYC (Baloch Yakjehti Committee), the forces searched the entire house and harassed the family members of Gaddafi and Kifaitullah.

Meanwhile, Thousands gathered in Lyari in response to the Baloch Yakjehti Committee’s appeal, including a significant number of women. Before the protest rally began, the Sindh Police deployed numerous personnel, placing barriers. Following the demonstration, the police arrested several youths and confiscated the sound system.

Similarly, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee-organized rally in the Malir area of Karachi led to the filing of fake FIRs against both organizers and participants, listing between 1,000 and 1,500 names of individuals in the FIR.

The series of enforced disappearances

Amidst the Baloch Yakjehti Committee’s sit-in protest against the human rights violations and Baloch genocide in Balochistan, there are continued reports of forced disappearances by Pakistani forces across the region.

On January 8, 2024, two individuals, Hasan son of Asif and Jasim son of Muhammad Bakhsh, were reportedly detained and disappeared by Pakistani forces in the Tump area of the Kech district of Balochistan. According to sources, these youths were taken away in front of witnesses from the ground in the Dazan area of Tump.

Hassan s/o Asif
Hassan s/o Asif
Jasim s/o Muhammad Bakhsh
Jasim s/o Muhammad Bakhsh

Similarly, on January 10, more than 40 activists were abducted from Taunsa while preparing for a protest demonstration in front of the National Press Club in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The protest aimed to show solidarity with the sit-in against Baloch genocide and enforced disappearances.

According to the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, Zulfikar Maglani, Muhammad Aslam, Master Ghulam Rasool, Shakeel Baloch, Kalil Ahmed, Sarfaraz Baloch, Qasim Baloch, Riaz, Saddam, Shahid, Zafar, Naeem, Naseeb, Kamran, Javed, Afshin and many others were among the abductees.

Baloch Long March

In another incident, on January 12, two students went missing from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. According to details, two A-level students, Syed Aitzaz and Muhammad Mujtaba, left home for school and disappeared on the way.

Syed Aitzaz and Muhammad Mujtaba
Syed Aitzaz and Muhammad Mujtaba

On January 13, Shahabuddin, son of Abdul Waheed and a resident of Absar Mir Yaqoob Mohalla, was forcibly disappeared by security forces at Sangani Sir Old Changi around 2 pm.

On January 14, another youth, identified as Ismail, son of Jamdar Muhammad Bakhsh, was reportedly abducted by Pakistani forces from the Kohad area of Tump.

Ismail s/o Jamadar Muhammad Bakhsh
Ismail s/o Jamadar Muhammad Bakhsh

On January 15, the Pakistani Army forcefully abducted two elderly individuals, named Rasool Baksh and Karim Baksh. While Rasool Baksh was released on the same day, the whereabouts of Karim Baksh remain unknown. According to local reports, Karim Baksh is believed to be held at a base camp in Gishkore.

Rasool Bakhsh s/o Ghulami
Rasool Bakhsh s/o Ghulami

Baloch Refugee Killings: A Disturbing Escalation

The intelligence agencies of Pakistan have persistently focused their attention on Baloch refugees. In a recent incident, Zahir Baloch was fatally shot in Zarabad, Balochistan, Iran, on January 13, 2024. Zahir had been compelled to leave his native town, Kandadi, in 2020, following the military operation conducted by the Pakistani forces in Mashkay. We express strong disapproval of the intentional targeting of Baloch refugees and call upon the global community to address the ongoing Baloch Genocide.

Zahir s/o Wali Muhammad
Zahir s/o Wali Muhammad

Despite the relentless efforts through marches, rallies, and protests, it is disheartening to witness the state persisting in its rule of enforced disappearances and target killings. The grave concern expressed by international human rights groups has, unfortunately, not deterred the alarming series of forced disappearances, particularly in the context of the Baloch genocide. We earnestly appeal for a renewed and sincere reconsideration of the situation.