Norwegian national returns from Pakistani “torture cells” after 12 years

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A Norwegian national, who was forcibly disappeared from Balochistan, has returned home 12 years after his disappearance. Ehsan Arjemandi was taken away by personnel of Pakistani forces in August 2009 from zero-point in Lasbela and was kept in incommunicado detention ever since.

Mr Arjemandi, a Norwegian national of Baloch origin, was in Balochistan to visit family when, according to family members, he was taken away by personnel of Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Mr Arjemandi was abducted after visiting family and friends in a village in Mand. The bus he was travelling into Karachi was stopped at Zero point on the coastal highway, about 12 kilometres from Uthal city. According to eyewitnesses, his abductors were in police and military uniforms, while plain clothed intelligence officials were also present at the scene.

For more than a year Pakistani authorities denied that Mr Arjemandi was in their detention, however, in July 2010 Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister at the time, admitted to a Norwegian journalist that Arjemandi was in their detention.

Rehman Malik claimed that Arjemandi was travelling around Pakistan with fake ID papers and was arrested. He said that the arrest of Arjemandi was to stop foreigners from committing “terrorist acts” in Pakistan. However, Arjemandi was never produced before a court.

On the other hand, Mr Arjemandi’s family maintains that he was politically active and was targeted for his political views and activism for Baloch rights. The family claims that Mr Arjemandi, despite suffering from high blood pressure, Type 2 Diabetes and Hepatitis C, was kept in torture cells in Malir and Quetta.

It is not clear why Mr Arjemandi has been released now, however; sources close to the family have confirmed to the media that he has now returned to Norway.

Ehsan Arjemandi’s disappearance is not a unique case as according to human rights groups tens of thousands of Baloch activists and others have been forcibly disappeared allegedly by Pakistani security forces from Balochistan.

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