Families of Baloch Missing Persons set up protest camp in Islamabad

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Victim families of Baloch missing persons have taken their protest camp to Pakistan’s capital Islamabad in a fresh bid to attract attention towards their plight. The family members, including young children, are sitting in the protest camp set up in front of Islamabad press club. The organisers of the protest have stated the latest step is to expose the “non-serious” behaviour of Pakistani government’s commission formed to trace missing persons.

Missing Dr Deen Mohammad Baloch’s daughter Sammi Baloch, Missing Shabbir Baloch’s sister Seema, family members of missing Hassan and Hizbullah Qambrani, mother of missing Jahanzeb Baloch, fiancee of missing Naseem Baloch, family members of missing Saeed Baloch, mother of Rashid Hussain and other families are taking part in the protest.

A large number of Baloch students and other activists from Islamabad rushed to the camp to express solidarity as soon as the news of protest camp was made public.

In a video statement on Twitter, missing Deen Mohammad Baloch’s daughter, Sammi Baloch, said the protest was against the behaviour of government’s commission formed to trace missing persons.

“We attended a hearing of the commission on 8th February, where we had to face despotic behaviour and we were clearly told not to bother them in future,” Sammi said.

She questioned the claims of government and said: “if the government is not capable of tracing the missing persons then why do they make tall claims before the international community that they have created commissions for this purpose?”

She added: “on one hand the prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan claims that he does not want anyone to be missing but on other hand our loved ones are nowhere to be found for nearly 12 years. It is the government’s responsibility to trace all missing persons.”

She added that the protest camp will remain here everyday from 9am to 6pm. “I request people from all walks of life to come and attend the protest camp to express solidarity,” she said.

“Enforced disappearances” are a major human rights issue in Balochistan. Various independent sources have placed the figure of the missing persons in Balochistan in thousands. Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a rights group advocating for the safe recovery of Baloch missing persons, has been campaigning against enforced disappearances for more than a decade. In 2008, the VBMP activists made history by carrying out a 3000 km long march from Quetta to Islamabad.  

VBMP activists have also attended conferences in Geneva, the United States and various other international forums in the pursuit of their cause. They have also met with representatives of the US, the European Union and numerous international rights groups in this regard.  

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