November 2023 Report [English]

Balochistan Human Rights Situation: November 2023 Analysis

Key Focus Areas

  • Statistics on Enforced Disappearances and Extrajudicial Killings in November
  • Tragic Incident: Three Youths from a Single Family forcibly disappeared and Killed in Balgater
  • Escalating Extrajudicial Killings and Community Response in Kech
  • Unjustified Force Used Against Students at Lasbella University, Resulting in the Enforced Disappearance of One Student

Statistics on Enforced Disappearances and Extrajudicial Killings in November

November 2023 witnessed a concerning surge in human rights violations in Balochistan, marked by 13 extrajudicial killings and the forced disappearance of 62 individuals following their arrest by the Pakistan army. Notably, 22 forcibly disappeared individuals were released from torture cells during this period.

Reports gathered by Paank highlight the alarming situation, citing instances across various regions: 2 from Sindh, 5 from Quetta, 17 from Kech, 2 from Lasbela, 14 from Awaran, 1 from Panjgur, 4 from Dera Bugti, 1 from Mastung, 3 from Khuzdar, 2 from Kharan, 1 from Chagi, 1 from Chaman, 1 from Sibbi, 7 from Gwadar, and one individual from NaseerAbad district were forcibly disappeared by the Pakistan army through illegal arrests.

Tragic incidents unfolded in Bazdad and Peerandar within Awaran district, where two individuals were killed following intrusions into their homes. Additionally, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) was involved in the deaths of three forcibly missing persons in a fabricated encounter in Khuzdar district. Furthermore, false claims of police encounters resulted in the deaths of seven forcibly disappeared individuals in custody in the Kech district.

Tragic Incident: Three Youths from a Single Family forcibly disappeared and Killed in Balgater

The November 19, 2023 incident in Balgater, Kech district, shook the entire Balochistan nation. For 14 years, Balochistan has witnessed a tragic series of enforced disappearances by Pakistani forces, resulting in the loss of thousands of lives. However, this recent event marked a horrific escalation individuals forcibly disappeared and were placed in a car rigged with explosives, resulting in an unprecedented act of violence. The gravity of this event resonated across all sectors in Balochistan, prompting swift condemnations from human rights institutions, political, and social organizations.

Three youths—Shah Jahan, son of Asa; Nabi Dad, son of Lewari; and Adil, son of Asa—were among those placed in the car destroyed by the bomb blast. They had been taken into custody from different locations, adding to the anguish of their families. Four other youths—Peer Jan, son of Lashkaran; Zaheer, son of Lashkaran; Ahmad Khan, son of Shugurulla; and Shoukat, son of Lewari—remain forcibly missing in the custody of the Pakistan army.

Amidst these enforced disappearances, only one FIR was filed for Adil son of Asa, who was taken by the Pakistan army from Majid Shah Advocate’s chamber.

The authorities falsely claimed these men were victims of a roadside bomb, but evidence indicates otherwise. Investigations reveal involvement from the Pakistan Army, the Police Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), and Khalid Yaqoob, a local operative responsible for these killings. These youths were forcibly disappeared by Khalid Yaqoob, associated with personal vendettas, following their arrest by the Pakistan army. The vehicle, seized by the Police CTD from a Turbat citizen, was rigged to destroy evidence.

Contrary to the police’s misleading statement, evidence, and witness accounts suggest the youths were shot by the Pakistan army upon release from torture cells, handed over to the police, and strategically placed in the rigged vehicle.

The tragedy in Balgater starkly exposes the complicity of all state institutions, particularly the Pakistan Army and its subordinate, the Police CTD, in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in Balochistan. These heinous human rights violations reflect systematic policies within these institutions. Given the unchecked authority of the army within Pakistan, addressing the dire human rights situation in Balochistan necessitates urgent action, compelling the Pakistani army to cease these inhumane activities.

International human rights organizations must hold the Pakistan Army accountable, setting a precedent to prevent such grave crimes against humanity in the future.

Despite consistent awareness efforts, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Balochistan remains largely ignored by international bodies, demanding immediate attention and intervention.

Escalating Extrajudicial Killings and Community Response in Kech

On the morning of November 28, 2023, Turbat, the main city of Kech district, was rattled when the police brought in four deceased individuals, claiming they were killed in a confrontation with police. However, it soon emerged that these four— Saifullah son of Umaid Ali, Shakoor son of Noor Jan, Abdul Wadood son of Mubarak, and Balach son of Mola Bakhsh—were actually among the forcibly disappeared individuals. Their identities matched those listed in Paank’s reports as individuals arbitrarily arrested.

Among these victims, the family of Balach, a resident of Apsar Turbat and son of Mola Bakhsh, vehemently protested against this killing, denouncing it as one of the most egregious instances of extrajudicial custodial killings.

Balach’s arrest occurred on October 29, 2023, from his residence in Apsar. However, the police falsely presented Balach in court on November 21, claiming an arrest made outside his house and alleging the discovery of explosives on him, a basis for an ensuing FIR. He was brought before a court and detained until November 29.

Wadood Baloch, who fell victim to a fabricated encounter with Balach, was apprehended from Panjgur during the fourth day of Eid. Shakur Baloch was forcibly abducted from the Tump area of Kech district, and Saif Baloch from Turbat on August 1, 2023.

Rather than conducting a burial, Balach’s relatives staged a protest at Shaheed Fida Ahmad Char Rah Turbat, demanding an FIR against the perpetrators. Thousands from across Balochistan joined the protest, yet the administration refused to file an FIR against the CTD for this custodial killing. Despite a court order to register an FIR against CTD officials, the police defied compliance with the judicial directive.

The CTD’s pattern of staging false encounters and facilitating enforced disappearances in Balochistan has transformed it into an apparatus for perpetrating violence. Ostensibly instituted to combat terrorism, it appears to serve as a cover for the Pakistan army’s wrongdoings. The CTD’s involvement in fake encounters resulting in the deaths of individuals in Pakistan army custody has accentuated the demand within Balochistan to disarm this institution. As long as the CTD persists, the Pakistan army is likely to exploit it to conceal its atrocities against humanity.

Conducting a judicial inquiry into the CTD’s claims of staged encounters and providing compensation to victims are imperative steps to uphold human rights and ensure accountability for these grievous violations.

Unjustified Force Used Against Students at Lasbella University, Resulting in the Enforced Disappearance of One Student

Students are currently the most deeply affected group in Balochistan. A significant number of those forcibly disappeared or extra judicially killed are students. Across all educational levels, from primary schools to universities, these places of learning have been transformed into military-controlled environments. Students are barred from carrying books into educational institutions, and an unspoken prohibition restricts academic discussions and lecture programs.

On November 13, 2023, Professor Manzoor Baloch, a respected Baloch intellectual, was barred from addressing a student lecture session at Turbat University. Students in Turbat and Dera Ghazi Khan faced similar restrictions, unable to bring books into classrooms—even though these same books are printed in Pakistan and readily available at most bookstores.

Baloch students encounter unfair treatment and discrimination not only within Balochistan but also beyond its borders. Instances of enforced disappearances following extrajudicial arrests in educational institutions in Islamabad and Lahore have become distressingly common. The lack of adequate educational resources within these institutions and the unjust conduct of educational administrators fuel the grievances of young Baloch students.

A demonstration on November 16, 2023, at Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences (LUAWMS) Uthal was met with police intervention, resulting in the use of force such as shelling and baton charges against protesting students. This heavy-handed response further incited student anger, leading to a continuation of protests the following day.

Tragically, on November 17, Sameer Baloch, a resident of Apsar Turbat and a second-semester student in the IR department, was forcibly disappeared by military intelligence officials after his arrest during the protests.

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