Bi-Annual Report 2018: The State of Balochistan’s Human Rights.

Balochistan: January to June 2018

 

Human rights situation in Balochistan has set alarm bells ringing for human rights activists as enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings continue for the last many years. International media and human rights bodies have been denied access to the affected areas while increasing number of former victims are coming out to blame Pakistan’s military for human rights violations.

 

In the southwestern part, Pakistan is facing an insurgency. There are many armed nationalist groups who believe the Islamabad government is exploiting the natural resources of their land and ignoring the indigenous people in any kind of development process.

 

The conflict turned violent in the early 2000’s when the military adopted a policy of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to stifle the separatist movement.

 

 

Enforced Disappearances:

 

Most of the cases of enforced disappearances go unnoticed, as family members of the victims are threatened to keep quiet if they wanted their loved ones back. Families have previously tried local remedies such as police or judiciary but to no avail, as the powerful military is not accountable to any institution in Pakistan.

 

 

We have received partial details of 485 cases of enforced disappearances during the first half of the year. Most of the reported cases belong to four out of 32 districts of Balochistan. In the majority of cases, the persons were picked up by security forces from their homes, in front of the entire families and villagers. Normally, the security forces come and siege the villages for hours, search the houses, take all men along with the valuables and leave. In some cases, the military has burnt the houses and entire villages, especially in Awaran district of Balochistan.

 

Some of the recent cases are:

 

  1. Asim Amin:

Mr. Asim Amin, a sixteen years old boy who was picked up by Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force of Pakistan, on 4th March

2018 in Turbat town of Balochistan. Asim was picked up in front of the public during a festival, Makkurán Mela, which was organized by the military in full security.

 

  1. Imdad:

 

In April, 22 years old Imdad Ghaus Baksh was abducted from Gramkan, district Panjgur. A group of armed men affiliated with a local “death squad” allegedly sponsored by the military is said to be behind Imdad’s abduction.

 

Imdad is the nephew of advocate Kachkol Ali, an ex-minister, former opposition leader of Balochistan Assembly and a senior member of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), a nationalist party which campaigns for the right to self-determination for the people of Balochistan.

 

 

  1. Abdul Hai Kurd:

 

Mr. Abdul Hai son of Jumma Kurd was abducted by security forces on 21 May 2018 and is still missing. He was sitting in KohBaash restaurant when two Vigo pick-ups with more than 20 army personnel accompanied by intelligence agencies, encircled the restaurant and took Abdul Hai with them. Abdul Hai was blindfolded and his hands tied before being escorted to one of the waiting pick-ups. Aged 35, he was a farmer and was the only supporting member of a large family already devastated by the previously enforced disappearances.

 

 

 

 

Extrajudicial killings:

 

There was hardly a week, where the security forces haven’t claimed to kill some ‘terrorist’ in Balochistan. However, the main targets remained innocent civilians. It shows that the security forces were either not able to differentiate the civilians from armed persons, or did it for any other reason.

 

144 persons were reportedly killed, mainly in four districts of Balochistan, Kech, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Awaran. In the rest of the 28 districts, we could not confirm reports due to lack of access.

 

There have been dozens of cases in which security forces killed the person who was in their custody, threw their dead bodies and claimed encounter.

 

Some are listed here, which our sources have confirmed:

 

  1. Noor Ahmed (master):

 

Noor Ahmed, a schoolteacher by profession, was extrajudicially killed and his dead body dumped in Mirabad area of Tump district Kech, Balochistan, on Tuesday.

He is a resident of Pollábád, Tump district Kech, and is the uncle of Karima Baloch, chairperson of BSO-Azad, who is in exile in Canada for last two years.

He was abducted on 28 July 2016, by personnel of Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force blamed for the enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killing of the political activists, educationists, and intellectuals in Balochistan.

There were around a dozen other passengers in the vehicle from which he was taken away. When their vehicle reached at Ghinna check post, around 40 KM away from Turbat city while going back home from Turbat, the vehicle was stopped by security forces and everyone was asked for the NIC (National Identity Cards). He was dragged out and taken away after the confirmation of his identity.

The tortured body of Mr. Noor Ahmed was found dumped in Meerabad area of Tump, district Kech on 2 January 2018.

 

  1. Maher Ali:

Sindh Rangers killed Mr, Maher Ali, an IDP of Balochistan, who was living in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh, on 13 March 2018 in a fake encounter.

 

Mr. Maher was a resident of district Awaran in Balochistan. Awaran is perhaps the area where most military operations occur with more intensity than other areas of Balochistan. In many operations, military uses gunship helicopters and fire mortars on mountainous villages in Awaran. Maher Ali and his family left their native village and lived in Karachi after his father Mayar was killed in their native village in 2006. Maher stopped his education and started working to feed his family.

 

His mother said in a video statement that Sindh Rangers picked him up from the house on 14 November 2016. “They said they will release him after some investigations. When it took longer, we filed a case in Sindh High Court. We appealed to the authorities through media, court and all means we could”, says Ms. Mah Bibi, the mother of Maher Ali.

 

 

  1. Azim Dad, the resident of Malar, district Awaran, was found dumped on a roadside in Hub Chowki, district Lasbella, on 05 May 2018. He was abducted by security forces on 25 April 2016 from Jinnah International Airport Karachi.

 

  1. Ghulam Qadir Dilshad and Akram Muhammad Issa died in the helicopter shelling during a military operation in Soler, district Washuk on March 24, while two mutilated bodies were recovered in March.

 

  1. Rafiq s/o Rozi mutilated body was recovered from Mochko, Karachi. He was abducted 2 years ago by security forces. His body bears several signs of torture on his body.
  2. The mutilated body of Sanaullah s/o Ghulam Qadir, a resident of Jhal Magsi was recovered from Mastung. The cause of his death is yet to be found.
  3. The mutilated body of Battey s/o Naik Muhammad, the resident of Jhao, Awaran was recovered on January 4, 2018. Battey was kidnapped on December 29, 2017, along with his father, Naik Muhammad. His father is still in the custody of forces.

 

  1. Nazgul:

 

A five-month pregnant woman, Ms. Nazgul is taken away by the Pakistan military from Besima, Balochistan, died in custody of security forces on 6 April 2018.

Paramilitary Frontier Corps picked up 19 locals, including women and children, in the Besima’s Raghai area in December 2017.

They had been initially taken to the military camp in Mashkay, but later handed over to the military-backed tribal chief, Ali Haider Mohammed Hasni, who kept them hostage at a property owned by him.

Ali Haider’s guards forced Nazgul and other prisoners to work as household servants. Guards refused to call medical help as her symptoms grew fatal.

Nazgul Mohammad Iqbal was pregnant when taken into custody. She died on 6 April 2018, after showing symptoms of pregnancy-related complications.

 

 

 

 Families of missing persons:

  1. Jumma Kurd:

In the month of May, amongst the forcibly disappeared persons include Mr. Jumma Khan Kurd’s son, Abdul Hai Kurd, who was whisked away by the security forces from Mach town on 21st May.

 

Mr. Jumma Khan himself is not new to the experience of waiting for a loved one who is forcibly disappeared. His another son, Ali Sher Kurd, an accomplished lawyer and a columnist were forcibly disappeared in September 2010. His bullet-riddled body was found dumped in Khuzdar on 24 September 2010. Shortly after receiving his son’s dead body, Mr. Jumma Khan’s three nephews, Ali Jan Kurd, Mumtaz Kurd and Liaquat Kurd were forcibly disappeared. Ali Jan and Mumtaz were both tortured to death and their bodies were thrown in Quetta city. Liaquat Kurd was released later after severe tortures and he is mentally unstable since then. He still suffers from long-term physical and psychological repercussions.

 

Mr. Jumma Khan never received any official news of his sons and nephews when they were disappeared in the past. And now, the whereabouts and conditions of his son, Abdul Hai are not being revealed to him despite his various pleadings with different officials.

 

Mr. Jumma neither went to the police nor using any other way to get his son, Abdul Hai, as he already exhausted all the local remedies two times before. In both cases, any remedy did not work.

 

  1. Ganjal wife of abducted Safar:

 

The case of Mr. Safar, a person forcibly disappeared by the military in 2013, came into light when his wife, Ganjal died on 2 June 2018. Mr. Safar, 24, was abducted by security forces from his house in Hub town of district Lasbela on 24 October 2013, in front of the entire family, after six months into their marriage. Miss Ganjal tried to resist the army personnel, but they were strong enough to shove her away with the butt of their gun.

 

The couple was resident of Labaach, Awaran of Balochistan. Their families left the village and shifted to Hub town, as there were continuous military operations in the area.

 

Miss Ganjal ran and knocked every door to get a news of her husband. She gradually became a patient of anxiety, hypertension after feeling helpless.

 

The doctors knew her mental condition but could not find a cure. She suffered from an illness nearly all relatives of enforced disappeared persons suffer. When the medicaments failed to cure her, they tried counselling. However, counselling helps only temporarily. So, Ganjal had her last anxiety attack on 2 June 2018 without knowing where Safar is.

 

 

 

 

 

Forced evacuation of villages:

 

The military has escalated search operations in many areas, forcing people to vacate their villages and settle around the larger military camps, in tehsils of district headquarters. The military has burnt dozens of huts (houses of the villagers) in the mountainous areas. Dozens of such settlements have been forcefully evacuated in district Awaran of Balochistan, where 118,173 people live on 12,510 sq km land with a population density of 4 persons per sq km.

  1. “Sixty years old F (name is not revealed for security reasons) along with his 15 members family is a victim of such forced IDPs in the region. He is a farmer, owning an agriculture land with more than a hundred date trees and more than two hundred trees of mangoes. He and his family worked on his land to eke a living. He is also a sheep farmer, owning dozens of goats.

He, his wife, sons and daughters, sons- and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren lived in the town near the military’s camp. They all were displaced in recent evacuations.

 

  1. 50 years old M (name held) opened his eyes with the sound of military boots at around 04:00 local time. Before he was fully awake, he felt heavy boots pressing against his body. All the men in his family were tortured till dawn when they were lined up in the center of the village along with other men of the village. All of them were once again kicked and punched and beaten with sticks, insulted and abused. Finally, the military announced its ultimatum to leave their houses at the earliest and to shift M’s village in district Awaran. More than a dozen families are living a miserable life in the new place without any help.

 

Many such families are being kept in the illegal detention of local armed tribal leaders aligned with the military. The persons are forced to do domestic chores in return for bread. They don’t have access to medical assistance if required.

 

We have received seven cases of forced evacuation in the month of June 2018 only. While the rest of the cases are to be documented. We are aware of dozens of such cases in the year 2018.

 

Persecution of women and children:

 

Miss Shazia Qadir Bakhsh, Nazia Qadir Bakhsh, Hawa Khuda Bakhsh, Shah Gul Khuda Bakhsh, Farida Hashim were abducted by security forces from their houses in Rakhshan, district Awaran on 4 June 2018. They were kept in military camps for almost a week and later released. They are still afraid to talk of it. They kept weeping days and nights when they came back. They refuse to tell the story of what had happened to them in the military camp.

 

Ms. Gul Bano and Ms. Saima Anis were picked up by security forces from their house on 27 June 2018. They are residents of Kohado village of Jhau, district Awaran. They were kept in military camp for three days and then released. One of Ms. Samia Anis’s cousins said she has marks of torture on her body but she does not want to talk what they have been through in the military camp.

 

More than a dozen ladies and children are in illegal detention of Sardar Ali Haidar Mohammad Hasni, in Mashkay area of district Awaran. They were abducted by security forces from Raghai area of Besima in December 2017. They were kept in the military camp in Mashkay for some time and were later kept in Mohammad Hasni’s house. The house is being used as the detention center. Ali Haidar is well known for its connection with military and has been involved in the killing of the political workers in the region.

 

Ms. Jamila Swali, a resident of Hoshab district Kech was shot killed by unknown gunmen in her house on 1 April 2018. Children say some masked men broke into their house, dragged their mother out and opened fire. She died on spot.

 

Another lady, Bilqis, a schoolteacher was shot killed in Dasht area of district Kech in May 2018. The reasons and the killers remained unknown in both cases, Jamila and Bilqis.

 

 

 

Remedies and Local Justice System:

 

 

  1. Miss Zahra Mehrab went to Turbat Police Station to lodge the FIR (First Information Report) against the forcible disappearance of her uncle, Noor Ahmad.

Noor Ahmed was teacher and resident of Phulabad, Tump district Kech. He was the uncle of Karima Baloch, the chairperson of Baloch Students Organization. Mr. Noor Ahmed was abducted by the Security Forces on 26 July 2016 while he was travelling back to his home from Turbat. The other passengers in the van witnessed his abduction when the van was stopped at Ginah Frontier Corps check post and all the passengers’ ID cards were checked. After confirming the identity of Noor Ahmed, he was blindfolded and offloaded from the vehicle.

Turbat police refused to lodge the FIR against the security forces, saying they only may register the case if Ms. Zahra says her uncle was abducted by unknown gunmen, not FC (Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for the enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan).

She then approached Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s coordinator for Turbat task force. Mr. Professor Ghani Parwaz, the novelist, critic of Balochi language, professor in Turbat University and the coordinator of HRCP accompanied her to the police station.

“Police further terrorized the family by saying ‘if you launch a case against FC, it would put your self and the rest of your family at risk. You know FC won’t listen to anyone. They will release him when they want’ they say’, said Mr. Parwaz when we called him for an update.

Miss Zahra, then travelled more than 700 KM to Quetta, the capital of Balochistan and submitted an application in Balochistan High Court.

The remedies and the judicial system remained quiet till the tortured body of Mr. Noor Ahmed was found dumped in Meerabad, Tump district Kech on 2 January 2018.

  1. In another case, Ms. Mah Bibi, mother of Maher Ali, approached all the police stations, Sindh High Court to get the news of her abducted son who was abducted by Sindh Rangers on 14 November 2016. Rangers picked him up from the house when Maher was sleeping. All the family witnessed the abduction.

The family is basically from Balochistan and migrated to Karachi to avoid the risks and threats of constant military operations in their village in Awaran.

Mah Bibi tried to lodge the FIR against the disappearance of her son, police in Karachi refused. She then filed a case in Sindh High Court and approached media to publish and highlight the issue.

The court remained quiet until her son was killed by Sindh Rangers in a fake encounter on 13 March 2018.

 

This happens with every family, if they wish to try the remedies, Pakistan has promised to have formed in all the state party reports submitted with Treaty Bodies of the conventions it has signed and ratified.

 

 

Released Victims:

 

187 previously abducted and disappeared persons were released in the first half of this year. They were illegally detained by security forces and remained in their custody. None of them was ever trialled nor was they presented in any court. The reappeared persons include the people who were disappeared before 3/5 years. Most of them reappeared with long bear and a shaved moustache, which shows an institutionalized Islamization of the person in the torture cell during their disappearance.

 

It is a positive step that some people are released but there are still thousands of people in the illegal custody of forces who are deprived of their constitutional right of hiring a lawyer and defending themselves. We have serious concerns about their lives and well being.

 

This report is researched and issued by Baloch Human Rights Organization and Human Rights Council of Balochistan.

 

 

Appendices:

 

Victims of enforced disappearance

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Extrajudicial Killings:

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