Mary Lawlor, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, recently held an online meeting with HRDs from Balochistan. The session focused on the severe challenges Baloch HRDs face in their advocacy for the rights of the Baloch people in Pakistan, including threats and attacks by the Pakistani government and its security apparatus.
Participants from Balochistan included Dr. Sahiba Baloch and Sadia Baloch of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), human rights lawyer Imaan Hazir Mazari, Abdullah Abbas from the Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB), Gulzar Dost of Civil Society Kech, and Latif Johar, a human rights activist.
Following the meeting, Special Rapporteur Lawlor expressed her concerns via the social media platform ‘X’. She highlighted the disturbing testimonies received from Baloch human rights defenders (HRDs), saying, “I heard further disturbing testimonies this morning from Baloch HRDs on the severe risks they face for advocating for the rights of Baloch people in Pakistan. I was struck by their courage in continuing to seek justice for their disappeared relatives amid such grave threats.”
The Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) took to ‘X’ to highlight the meeting’s significance, noting that attendees discussed the obstacles and threats encountered due to their advocacy work. The Committee praised Lawlor for her focus on the need for heightened international awareness of the human rights situation in Balochistan and her recognition of the critical role of Baloch women in the resistance efforts.
The Human Rights Council of Balochistan (HRCB) also expressed their gratitude on ‘X’: “We thank Mary Lawlor for meeting us, and other HRDs, and listening to the challenges, concerns, and security risks they face at the hands of the Pakistani government and its military forces.”
This recent meeting follows an earlier discussion Lawlor had with Baloch activists Sammi Deen Baloch and Dr. MahRang Baloch. In that meeting, issues such as enforced disappearances and police harassment were highlighted. Lawlor expressed serious concerns over the harassment faced by Baloch protestors and assured the activists of her ongoing commitment to monitoring their situation and the risks faced by Baloch activists.