The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) completed its 4281st day of protest in the provisional capital Quetta on Monday. Several of the families of the Baloch missing persons visited the camp, demanding the safe release of their loved ones.
Addressing the gathering, VBMP Vice-Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch said that the Baloch have been deprived of the right to life. Thousands of Baloch have been “forcibly disappeared” over the course of several years, and their bereaved families are left in a “perpetual agony.”
Mama Qadeer said that he was saddened to hear of the death of I. A Rehman, a veteran columnist, poet and human rights advocate who passed away in Lahore on Monday. He said that Rehman had always stood beside the Baloch nation in the hard times – he always raised his voice for the Baloch missing persons.
To mark the 12th year of the disappearance of student leader Zakir Majeed, his family members have announced that they will hold a protest in Quetta on April 13. Majeed was a prominent student leader who was “forcibly disappeared” from Mastung, Balochistan, in June 2009. He has been missing since, despite his families rigorous campaigning for his safe arrival. His elderly mother has travelled to Quetta, Karachi and even Islamabad in search of his missing son, but no avail. His sister Farzana Majeed broke a world record by marching 3000 km from Quetta to Islamabad in 2013 to raise his voice for his recovery.
Majeed’s family members have said that they knocked on every door in the pursuit of justice, but no one paid heed to their cries. They organized numerous protests and demonstrations and appealed to the human rights groups to take notice of Majeed’s disappearance, but their pleas went unheard.
Majeed’s elderly mother has been visiting the VBMP protest camp for the past several years, campaigning for the recovery of his son. She said that the past 12 years have been agonizing for her family. Zakir Majeed’s “abduction” and subsequent “confinement” is a grave human rights violation. She said that her family will organize a protest in front of the Quetta Press Club on April 13 for his recovery. She appealed to people from different walks of life to participate in the demonstration.
The families of other missing persons have also called on the authorities to ensure the recovery of their loved ones before the holy month of Ramadan. The families of the missing Mushtaq Baloch, Attaullah Baloch, Saadullah Baloch and Munir Mirwani have said that Ramadan is a month of justice and forgiveness – the authorities must demonstrate their humanity and release the said missing persons.
The families said that their loved ones have been missing for years without a clue. They said that if the missing persons are culpable, then they must be presented before a court and prosecuted in the light of substantial evidence. But they are not guilty, and all of our sufferings must be compensated for.
They added that in civilized societies, the notion of “forcibly disappearing” and subsequently “torturing” innocent people does not exist. The disappearance of one person plunges the entire family in anguish – this is collective punishment.
They appealed to the human rights groups to take notice of the disappearance of their loved ones and raise voice for their safe recovery.