Shaal: The human rights organization Paank, associated with the Baloch National Movement, has published its report for August 2023.
The report covers several cases of human rights violations that occurred in Balochistan. These include the wrongful murder of Abdul Rauf Barkat in Turbat on charges of blasphemy, the brutal killings of Hani Gul and her husband Sameer in West Balochistan, the murder of farmer Imdad Joyo in Jhal Magsi, the concerning disappearance of Noor Khatun and her kids, detailed reports on the custodial killing of forcibly missing Ghulam Farooq Zehri and the arrest of human rights activist Iman Mazari.
Paank has released data showing that in August 2023, the Pakistani military forcibly disappeared 64 individuals after extrajudicial arrest. This figure is higher than the number of individuals who were forcibly disappeared in the previous month, which was 57.
Paank had previously stated that July 2023 had been the worst month of the year for enforced disappearances, but the new data for August 2023 reveals that this month has now become the worst month of the year for enforced disappearances thus far.
According to the report, the statistics indicate that enforced disappearances are worsening in Balochistan. Despite this, the military authorities and state policies are not taking steps to end this practice, causing concern that the number of crimes against humanity could rise even further in the coming days.
The report states that in August 2023, 24 individuals subjected to extrajudicial arrests and forced disappearances were eventually released without any explanation for their alleged crimes. It is important to note that these individuals had undergone torture during their time in the report, expressing concern that Pakistan, under considerable economic pressure and the attention of foreign investors – particularly China – is seeking new partners to exploit Balochistan’s resources. This has led to efforts to weaken potential opposition or resistance forces in Balochistan politics in order to facilitate unencumbered exploitation of the region’s resources by multinational corporations and in partnership with China. The report also reveals that China is actively seeking to suppress the Baloch national movement and exert control over political forces, which may have grave consequences for human rights.
According to Paank’s report, the Makuran Division – the most critical for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project (CPEC) – has been the primary focus of Pakistan Army operations. The report highlights that 22 cases of enforced disappearance have been reported in this region.
In August 2023, military operations were ongoing in Balochistan, as per Paank’s report. The Pakistan army conducted multiple operations in the areas of Hairabad, Hotabad, Balicha, and Nasirabad in Tump Tehsil of Kech District. The army also detained several people who were later released after being subjected to torture. The report notes that the number of these detained individuals is not included in Paank’s monthly report.
On 31 August 2023, the body of Gham Farooq, son of Muhammad Waris, who had forcibly disappeared from Mastung on 27 October 2022, was discovered in a vineyard along the Killi Qambrani Road.
Paank’s report included a comprehensive account of Ghulam Farooq’s custodial killing, highlighting that this practice cannot be labeled anything other than genocide, as it specifically targets individuals striving to preserve their national identity. The report emphasizes the need for international organizations to exert consistent pressure on Pakistan, adopting an unequivocal stance, to end this genocidal policy of enforced disappearances and custodial killings. Furthermore, the possibility of prosecuting the Pakistani army for crimes against humanity in the International Court of Justice should be explored, as the domestic courts in Pakistan are deemed inadequate in delivering justice in cases involving the Pakistan Army.
According to Paank, Tragic incidents from last month include the wrongful murder of language teacher Abdul Rauf Barkat on false blasphemy charges in Turbat, the killing of farmer Imdad Joyo by influential people, and the abduction and burning of migrant couple Sameer and Rukhsana (Hani Baloch) in Phara (Iran Shaar), West Balochistan, which have heightened insecurity within the Baloch society.
Moreover, the arbitrary arrest and targeting of human rights activist and Baloch lawyer Iman Mazari, who raises a strong voice against enforced disappearances, represent an oppressive attempt to silence Baloch rights advocates – an action that Paank vehemently condemned.