Enforced disappearances: Sisters call for the recovery of missing brothers

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Asif and Rashid Baloch, residents of Khuzdar, had travelled to Noshki with several friends for a picnic in 2018. On August 31, they were allegedly “forcefully abducted” by the Pakistani security forces from Noshki. Their friends returned home a few days ago, but after almost three years of their “abduction”, Rashid and Asif are nowhere to be seen. 

The sisters of the missing Asif and Rashid Baloch have now appealed for the safe recovery of their brothers. In a video message, the sister of the missing Asif says that her brother was “abducted” along with ten friends three years ago from Noshki. She said that the authorities had confirmed their arrest and also issued their photos from the confinement. The photos showed him blindfolded and terribly beaten. But after three years of their disappearances, we have not been told what their crimes were, she said. 

She said that her brother was a government servant and the sole breadwinner of the family. His sudden disappearance has left the family stranded and helpless. 

It should be noted that enforced disappearances are on the rise in Balochistan. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons – a human rights group advocating for the recovery of Baloch missing persons – argues that thousands of persons are missing from different areas of Balochistan. Several other independent investigations have given a similar figure. 

The VBMP, Baloch political and social activists, student leaders and the families of Baloch missing persons commemorated 8 June as the “Baloch Missing Persons Day” in Quetta and various other parts of Balochistan. They organized massive rallies and demonstrations to highlight their plight. 

Scores of people, mostly women and children, marched on the roads of Quetta on Tuesday, carrying informative placards and portraits of their missing loved ones. 8 June marked the 12th anniversary of the disappearance of BSO-Azad Vice-Chairman and student leader Zakir Majeed, who had been allegedly abducted from Mastung in 2009 by the Pakistani forces. His family have been religiously campaigning for his safe return but to no avail. His elderly mother has spent much of the past 12 years in protest camps in Quetta and Karachi and his sister Farzana Majeed was among the families of Baloch missing persons who marched 3000 kilometres to Islamabad in 2013 for the safe return of their loved ones. Despite all the efforts, Zakir Majeed remains a missing person.

The families of the Baloch missing persons were the prominent faces in the rallies and demonstrations in Quetta on “Baloch Missing Persons Day.” Sammi and Mehlab Deen Baloch, daughters of the missing Dr Deen Muhammad Baloch, Seema Baloch, sister of missing Shabeer Baloch, and the elderly mother of missing Rashid Hussain Baloch were present in the demonstrations. 

In the sweltering summer sun, the demonstrators started the demonstration from the Quetta Press Club and marched on the streets of Quetta, ultimately stopping in front of the governor house to protest. A large number of security forces had been stationed in the area. The forces tried to violently disperse the protests. Videos posted on social media show the security forces manhandling and beating the peaceful protestors in an attempt to end the protest. 

Addressing the gathering, the mother of the missing Zakir Majeed said that I live in the hope that I will one day see the face of my son. She said that the authorities must ensure the return of Zakir Majeed and other Baloch missing persons, or we will take the protests to Karachi and Islamabad. 

VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch, Vice-Chairman Mama Qadeer Baloch, BNP-Mengal leader Lashkari Raisani, former Senator Muhim Khan and other prominent leaders were also present at the demonstrations. They all unanimously said that the issue of “enforced disappearances” is a grim one and requires immediate attention.

They said that helpless families of the Baloch missing persons march on the roads, crying for the return of their loved ones. The government must fulfil their demands.


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