Enforced disappearances in Balochistan continue amid Corona Crisis – HRCB report

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Pakistan has an appallingly poor track record of disease control in Balochistan, says Human Rights Council of Balochistan, or HRCB

The organization states in the report; Balochistan was swept with a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases during March. The global pandemic was helped spread in Balochistan by the incompetent handling of travelers entering Balochistan from Iran. Thousands of travelers were kept in narrowly erected tents in hot, filthy conditions in Taftan under the watch of Levies and the army. The Balochistan Government termed the measure as quarantine. According to doctors working at the camp, there were no testing facilities. Even those who presented with symptoms could not be tested and no one knows how many of the quarantined people were infected or not. The conditions were further exacerbated by the lack of doctors, nurses and necessary medical facilities. At one point things got so bad that protests broke out among those quarantined.

It is estimated that the mismanaged quarantine village not only helped the rapid spread of the virus in Balochistan but was also one of the major sources for spreading the disease in other parts of Pakistan.

The exact number of COVID-19 cases and the resulting deaths can never be ascertained in Balochistan. First of all Balochistan does not have enough testing kits. Secondly, the regions 3g and 4g internet is blocked and clinics and hospitals do not have access to computers which hinders the fast transfer of medical data from far plunged areas to any centralized office, granted that there is any. Thirdly, Most of clinics and hospitals do not receive electricity, the report read.

Pakistan has an appallingly poor track record of disease control in Balochistan with a major portion of the population already dying from communicable and infectious diseases like malaria, hepatitis, diarrhea, typhoid, etc. We believe a major humanitarian crisis in developing awaits the people of Balochistan with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HRCB’s report further states about the insurgency in the region and counter insurgency tactics such as enforced disappearances by the state, saying “the conflict between the militants opposing Pakistan´s presence in Balochistan and the Pakistani troops continued despite the COVID-19 crisis. Pakistani troops carried out systematic abuse and unjustified arbitrary arrests in Balochistan without any slowdown. Targeted enforced disappearances of those who oppose rule from Islamabad continued unabated even in the times of Corona. Below are the chronological documentation of enforced disappearances and killings during the month of March 2020 in different parts of Balochistan where we have access”.

March 2020: 39 People forcibly disappeared in Balochistan

On March 2, Pakistani security forces raided a house in the remote village of Zahmdo in Mangoli area of Mashkay, district Awaran. Mr. Rahim Bakhsh was forcibly disappeared along with his wife Bibi Zargul in the raid. Bibi Zargul was later thrown near the house in a critical condition after being tortured. She succumbed to the injuries and died later on that day while Rahim Bakhsh is still listed as missing.

On Mar 3, military forces raided several houses in Peerander village, in district Awaran. The village dwellers, including women and children were beaten-up and three persons were forcibly disappeared. The enforced disappeared persons were identified as Saleem Afzal, Aqil Shahzad and Zareef Ibrahim.

On Mar 4, forces carried out a raid on Jumma Dilwash’s house in Kohad, Tump, district Kech and abducted Fahad Majeed.

On Mar 6, forces abducted 7 residents from Goburd village in Mand town, district Kech during a raid. All of them were later released except Parvez Rasool Bakhsh who is still missing.

On the same day, paramilitary units whisked away three people from Zain Koh, district Dera Bugti. The abductees were identified as Mukhtar Rakhia Bugti, Basheer Ghulam Hussain Bugti, Tariq Peeri Bugti.

On Mar 7, Abid Peerdad—a resident of Gwarkop, district Kech was whisked away from a checkpoint near Pidrak village by the security forces during a routine inspection of the local transport vehicle in which he was traveling. He was a laborer in Dubai and had come to visit his family in his native village of Gwarkop. He has been listed as missing since being abducted from the abovementioned checkpoint.

On Mar 9, forces raided the students´ hostel in Turbat, district Kech, and forcibly disappeared two students, Imam Anwar and Alim Bohair. Their families have not been provided with any information about their whereabouts and wellbeing.

On the same day forces also whisked away a 13-year-old teenager from Peerander, district Awaran. The victim’s family reported receiving continuous threats to leave the village, failing which all of the family members will be forcefully disappeared one after another.

On Mar 15, forces raided the house of Sakhi Dad Baloch in Ziarat e Dan area of Awaran, and abducted his wife Razia. She was tortured and asked to find her son, who had joined the militants, and persuade him to surrender.

On Mar 19, Ustad Doda Deen Muhammad was forcibly disappeared from Alangi, Mashkay, district Awaran during a military operation on his house.

On Mar 20, security forces raided a house in Tal, Hoshab, district Kech and forcibly disappeared Haqdad and his son Bakhshi. Haqdad was released after a day´s torture but his son’s whereabouts are still unknown.

On Mar 21 forces disappeared three residents of Panjgur from different areas of the city in several separate raids. The victims identified as Hasam Fazal Kareem and Qasum Sayed Muhammad were abducted from Chitkan area of Panjgur while Zahir Abdul Samad was abducted from Washbod area of Panjgur.

On Mar 22, Fida Muhammad Ali was forcibly disappeared by military personnel from a garage in Tump area of district Kech where he had gone to repair his car.

On Mar 23, forces forcibly whisked away two brothers Shoaib and Obaid sons of Yousuf Baloch who were residents of Sechi, Dasht, district Kech. Shoaib had traveled to Gwadar in search of a job and Obaid was on his way to Turbat from Dasht. Their whereabouts are not known since then.

On Mar 24, security forces carried out a raid in Menaz, Buleda, district Kech and forcefully disappeared three residents whose only first names could be confirmed as Hayat, Abid and Jahanzaib.

On the same day, forces raided a house in Turbat and abducted Dilpul Yaar Muhammad.

On Mar 25, the army unlawfully detained three persons belonging to Dera Bugti district who were on their way to Rajanpur. The military later alleged that they were terrorists and had been captured with weapons. However, their names were not revealed to the public. The residents of Dera Bugti claim that this ambiguous operation carries all the hallmarks of previous such “Extortion operations” where the army usually abducts civilians and blames them of terrorist activities without revealing their identities. In most of such cases the family members of the abductees are forced to secure their release by paying huge ransoms.

On the same day, members of military-sponsored local death squads abducted Nasir Essa, a resident of Diz, Parom, district Panjgur.

On Mar 27, Malik Jan Naseer was abducted in a military raid on the houses of Mr. Lashkaran and Mr. Naseer in Gomazi, Tump, district Kech.

On Mar 28, Naeem Pindok, a resident of Malar Kahn, district Awaran was forcibly disappeared in a military raid on his house.

On the same day, forces abducted Sagheer Abdul Samad and his younger brother (whose name could not be confirmed) from Gomazi, Tump, district Kech. Eyewitnesses recounted that they were kicked around, hit with gun buts and sticks before being taken away.

March 2020: 15 people killed across Balochistan.

On Mar 1, Aqeel Jan Muhammad was shot dead in an honor killing case in the Malant village of Tump. The levies received the body from the killers and later handed over it to the family.

On Mar 2, unknown militants shot down Taufeeq Rafeeq, a resident of Asiabad, Tump, district Kech, and injured Rashid Hashim who was accompanying him. Baloch Republican Army (BRA), a militant organization claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued to the media. Taufeeq had previously been affiliated with the militant group but had surrendered recently.

On Mar 6, unidentified gunmen opened fire on Taufeeq Aslam—a resident of Malant Tump, district Kech and killed him. He was a laborer in Iran and had returned to his hometown, Tump, 2 months ago. There is no further information available mainly due to the local police force´s reluctance to carry out a productive investigation process.

On Mar 10, the militants of Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS), a pro-independence Baloch militant group, killed 3 civilians named as Khalil Ahmad Yar Muhammad, Muhammad Sadiq Adam and Naseem Faqeer and apprehended 1 person alive in an attack carried on Naguman’s house in Gawargo area of Panjgur. The militant organization, in a news statement issued to the media after the attack, accused them of working for the military.

On Mar 25, a decomposed body was recovered from Naganag village of Lorlai, district Lorlai . The initial investigations by the local administration identified him as Asadullah Pahlawan, from Afghanistan, who being holder of a refugee card had lived in Pakistan as a refugee. His killing also remained a mystery as the local administration did not show any interest in investigating the case.

On Mar 26, the dead body of Khuda Dad Noora was found in Doki Kaor. He had been abducted by militants of Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) six days earlier. He is presumed to be killed by the militant group.

On Mar 28, two dead bodies of a girl and a boy were recovered from Dahl, near district Chagai. The bodies were handed over to families by the local administration. The police and local administration are reluctant to investigate the case and had tried to suppress information about the killings. The case carries all the traits of honor killing.

On Mar 29, Abdul Basit, resident of Chitkan in Panjgur city was killed when he resisted being robbed by a gang of thieves. His friend was also got injured in the incident. The police had failed to carry out further investigations or apprehend the culprits.

On the same day, Allah Bakhsh, a resident of Barkhan was killed and three other people were injured in an encounter by the police. The police blamed him of being a professional criminal. However, all due process to arrest him or present him in the courts were flouted by the police.

On Mar 31, unknown armed men shot down two residents of Awaran namely Sana Ullah and Ganj Bakhsh. They were said to be former members of Baloch militant groups. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, report read.

Human Rights Council of Balochistan (Hakkpaan) is a non-profit and non-partisan human rights group based in Balochistan, France, Sweden and the UK. It collects reports from Balochistan, a region Pakistan government does not allow any media and HR group to visit and report.

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