A protest was organized in front of the Quetta press club to commemorate the ‘Baloch missing persons day’ and to mark the 11th year of the Zakir Majeed’s disappearance on Monday. Scores of protestors took to the streets to remember their missing family members and acquaintances and to appeal the authorities to take action against enforced disappearances and, above all, recover the missing persons.
According to The Balochistan Post news desk, 8th June was commemorated as ‘Baloch Missing Persons day’ in Balochistan. In Quetta, a protest was organized by the families, friends and acquaintances of the missing persons in front of the Quetta press club. The protestors carried life-size portraits of the missing persons and placed placards and their photos on pre-drawn question marks on the road. The protest also marked the 11th year of Zakir Majeed’s unaccounted for disappearance.
An online campaign was also initiated on various social media platforms. Under the hashtag #BalochMissingPersonsDay, the campaigners recounted many incidents of enforced disappearances in Balochistan and requested various human rights organizations – including UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) and Amnesty International – to vocalize for the Baloch missing persons and to compel the associated authorities to take notice.
Zakir Majeed was a student leader, a human rights activist and the Vice Chairman of Baloch Students Organization Azad (BSO-Azad), at the time of his abduction. He was allegedly abducted along with two of his friends, Waheed and Basit, by the Pakistani intelligence agencies on 8 March 2009, in Mastung area of Balochistan. The other two abductees were released later on but Zakir Majeed was kept in confinement. He has not been heard from since then. Since his disappearance, he has been remembered every year on the 8th of June. In the consecutive 11 years since his abduction, his affiliated organization (BSO-Azad), human rights activists including Voice for Baloch Missing Persons and his family have been campaigning for his recovery, but to no avail. In countless video messages, his mother has appealed to the authorities to either release her son or to produce her before the court for a legal hearing. Her pleas are unheard yet.
Apart from Zakir Majeed, innumerable other persons are missing from Balochistan. According to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), approximately 45,000 persons are missing from Balochistan. Despite its ten-year-long protest in Quetta, the VBMP’s voice has not been heard. Instead of recovering the already missing persons, the security forces are carrying out new enforced disappearances unabated, VBMP claims.
In a heart-wrenching video message, Haseeba Qambrani, the sister of the missing Hizbullah and Hassan Qambrani, said that she has filed an FIR for her brothers, but to no avail. “When I get out of home, peoples’ gazes pierce me. We do not go out unpurposely; we are in so much pain”, she sobbed. She said that every second house in Balochistan is in similar anguish. “Our happiness has been obliterated. We do not celebrate [festivals]; we mourn our brothers”, she said. Miss Qambrani added that the state is distilling and then carefully detaining the Baloch people. Among other things, she appealed that her brothers be recovered, along with Zakir Majeed.
It is to be noted that Haseeba’s another brother was allegedly murdered by Pakistani secret services.
In a tweet, Balochistan National Party (BNP) said that enforced disappearances are of “unbearable pain.” “If they are involved in any crime, bring them for an open trial and convince the court as well their relatives”, the tweet read.
Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist, addressed the disappearance of Zakir Majeed in a tweet and said that the anguish of missing Mr Majeed’s mother is evident in her face. He said that Mr Majeed must be produced before a court if he is a terrorist. “If the state becomes a terrorist then who will respect the law?” the tweet read.
BSO-Azad, Zakir Majeed’s affiliated organization, said in a statement that “extrajudicial kidnappings” continue unabated in Balochistan. Sohrab Baloch, the leader of BSO-Azad, said that the enforced disappearance of political activists is a “state design” to politically “emasculate” Balochistan. He said that his organization has appealed many times to produce the missing persons before the court, but their pleas have been unheard. In the end, Sohrab Baloch requested the public to participate in the protests and the campaigns against enforced disappearance in Balochistan.