Week-Long Campaign Aims to Shed Light on Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan

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A concerted social media campaign spanning a week has been launched by human rights activists and organizations to bring attention to the pressing issue of enforced disappearances. The campaign aims to spotlight the plight of missing individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Baloch, Pashtun, Sindhi, Shia, Gilgati, Muhajir, Kashmiri, and Punjabi communities.

Commencing on August 8 and continuing through to August 14, this campaign underscores the urgency of addressing enforced disappearances. Each day of the campaign centers on a specific group, underlined by hashtags denoting their respective struggles. August 8 marked the initiation of the “Recover Baloch Missing Persons” campaign, followed by “Recover Pashtun Missing Persons” on August 9, and “Recover Sindhi Missing Persons” on August 10.

Shia Missing Persons will be the spotlight on August 11, followed by Muhajir Missing Persons on August 12, Gilgit Missing Persons and Kashmiri Missing Persons on August 13. The campaign will culminate with the Punjabi Missing Persons Campaign on August 14. Notably, the Pashtun Protection Movement is set to stage a rally in Islamabad on August 18.

Throughout this social media campaign, influential human rights leaders, along with individuals representing diverse ideologies, are actively participating. Alam Zeib Mehsud, a key figure in the Pashtun Protection Movement, emphasized that the issue of enforced disappearances in Pakistan is an egregious violation of human rights. He stressed that the silence surrounding such disappearances is tantamount to complicity, making the campaign an essential means of raising awareness and fostering participation.

Ayesha Masood Janjua, a prominent human rights leader, expressed solidarity with all victims of enforced disappearances during the campaign. She underscored the need for transparent investigations, legal reforms, and political pressure to hold perpetrators accountable and put an end to this harrowing practice.

While talking to The Balochistan Post, Iman Zainab Mazari, a human rights activist and lawyer, lauded the collective effort of various ethnic groups and movements. She highlighted the strength that emerges from unity and stressed that this campaign could provide the impetus required to galvanize street-level protests aimed at securing the release of missing individuals.

Hasan Butt, a leader of the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), asserted to The Balochistan Post that MQM remains steadfast in opposing oppression, extending support to all victims irrespective of background. He underlined the significance of a joint effort, emphasizing the establishment of a robust alliance among oppressed groups seeking justice.

Latif Baloch, a leader of the Baloch Voice for Justice, expressed that the campaign’s purpose is to transcend ethnic, religious, and political divides, uniting against the inhumane practice of enforced disappearances. He hailed the campaign’s success in uniting voices against this social tragedy.

It is important to acknowledge that the issue of enforced disappearances has escalated into a dire situation within Pakistan. Countless political activists, scholars, writers, and individuals from various walks of life have been subjected to forced disappearances. Human rights organizations attribute these incidents to Pakistani forces and intelligence agencies.

Baloch nationalists and nationalist groups underscore a long-standing history of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, linking it back to the 1970s. They maintain that this practice intensified over the past two decades, resulting in thousands of individuals vanishing without a trace.

Pashtun communities allege that the pretext of countering terrorism has led to the forced disappearance of many ordinary citizens, while Sindhi nationalists claim that their activists are being targeted in Sindh. Similar allegations are made in Punjab, Kashmir, and Gilgit, where freedom of expression is stifled.

Noteworthy examples of enforced disappearances include the cases of Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz, both of whom were abducted in 2005. Their stories highlight the far-reaching impact of this distressing issue.

Now the MQM, Defense of Human Rights, Baloch Voice for Justice, and Pashtun Tahafuz Movement have collaboratively launched a Twitter campaign from August 8, 2023, to August 14, 2023. This campaign aims to draw attention to the profound human rights violations of enforced disappearances and shed light on the need for urgent action.

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