Pakistan: Investigate Murder and Torture of Baloch Activists

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Pakistan: Investigate Murder and Torture of Baloch Activists

WASHINGTON - The Pakistani government must investigate the
torture and killings of more than 40 Baloch leaders and political
activists over the past four months, Amnesty International said today.

Activists,
politicians and student leaders are among those who have been targeted
in enforced disappearances, abductions, arbitrary arrests and cases of
torture and other ill-treatment. The violence takes place against a
backdrop of increasing political unrest and Pakistan army operations in
Balochistan, south western Pakistan.

"The
Pakistani government must act immediately to provide justice for the
growing list of atrocities in Balochistan," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty
International's Asia-Pacific Director. "Baloch political leaders and
activists are clearly being targeted and the government must do much
more to end this alarming trend."

Among the
latest victims of the ongoing violence are Faqir Mohammad Baloch and
Zahoor Baloch, whose bodies were discovered in the district of Mastung
on 21 October 2010. Faqir Mohammad Baloch, a poet and member of the
Voice of Missing Baloch Missing Persons, was abducted on 23 September.
Zahoor Baloch, a member of the Baloch Student Organization-Azad was
abducted on 23 August. According to media reports, both received a
single bullet wound to the head at point blank range and showed signs of
being tortured.

The discovery of the two men's
bodies is part of a growing trend of "kill and dump" operations.
Bullet-ridden bodies of those who have been abducted, many showing signs
of torture, are increasingly being found across Balochistan.
Previously, the bodies of missing persons were rarely recovered.

Other
recent victims of the violence include Mir Nooruddin Mengal, a member
of the Balochistan National Party's (BNP-M) Central Executive Committee
was shot dead by unidentified men near his home in Gharebabad, near
Kalat Bazar on 13 October. Yasin Baloch, a member of Voice for Baloch
Missing Persons and brother of Mujeeb Baloch, senior member of BSO-Azad,
who had also been abducted, was shot by unidentified gunmen near
Roshare Kalat on 10 October.

The victims'
relatives and activists often accuse the Pakistani security forces and
intelligence agencies of carrying out these violations. A previously
unknown organization, Sipah-e Shuhada-e Balochistan, has also claimed
responsibility for some of the killings.

"The
Pakistan government's ongoing failure to prevent abuses has emboldened
the perpetrators behind these atrocities," said Sam Zarifi. "The
Pakistani government must show that it can and will investigate the
Pakistani military and Frontier Corps, as well as intelligence agencies,
who are widely accused of playing a role in these incidents."

Amnesty
International warned that the rise in enforced disappearances and kill
and dump incidents has aggravated political tensions in Baluchistan and
led to reprisal killings by Baloch armed groups.  On 14 August 2010, 17
people from Punjab province were killed in Quetta.  The Balochistan
Liberation Army claimed responsibility, saying that the killings were in
response to the killings of Baloch missing persons.

Amnesty
International urges all sides in the conflict to respect human rights
and stop all torture, enforced disappearances, abductions, targeted
killings and indiscriminate attacks.

In November
2009, the Pakistani government announced a package of proposed policy
and legislation reforms for Balochistan, and promised to resolve the
cases of enforced disappearances, but it has so far failed to do so.

Other prominent killings of Baloch activists since July include: • On
11 July, Maula Baksh Dashti, a key figure in the Balochistan National
Party and a former district Nazim (Chief Official) of Kech (Turbat)
District was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in his native district.

  • On
    14 July, former Senator Habib Jalib Baloch, Secretary General of the
    Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) was assassinated in the
    Parkaniabad area of Quetta, by three gunmen on a motorbike. He received
    seven bullets in the neck and chest and had been receiving threats.
  • On
    20 July, a leading member of the BNP-M, Liaqat Mengal, was shot dead on
    by three gunmen on a motorbike near his house in the Kalat district of
    Balochistan.
  • On 26 July, the bullet riddled
    bodies of two cousins, student Ashfaq Ahmed Mullahzai and Muhmmad Farooq
    Mengal, were recovered in Quetta, in the Kili Qambrani area. Their
    relatives claim they had been abducted in May 2010.
  • On
    6 September, the body of Baloch lawyer Zaman Marri was found in
    Mastung. He had received a single bullet to his forehead and his body
    showed torture marks. The lawyer was reportedly abducted by intelligence
    agents near his place of work in Quetta on 18 August.
  • On
    23 September, the bullet riddled body of missing Baloch lawyer Ali Sher
    Kurd was found in Khuzdar district. Kurd was reportedly abducted by
    Pakistani intelligent agents three days before. His neck was broken and
    he showed marks of torture.

Background Balochistan
has a history of insurgency with local groups advocating greater
autonomy. Four waves of violent unrest took place in 1948, 1958-59,
1962-63 and 1973-77.

Local people in Balochistan
are demanding a bigger share of the revenue generated by the province's
natural resources, principally natural gas, which they believe now
disproportionately benefit other provinces.

Some
Baloch groups have resorted to violence, while others are campaigning
peacefully. The Pakistani national government has attempted to suppress
this opposition by increasing the military presence in the region.

Many
people have died at the hands of the security forces in extrajudicial
executions and deaths in custody, and thousands of people are reported
to have been subjected to enforced disappearance. The confrontation
between Baloch nationalists and the state is characterised by human
rights abuses committed by all sides.

For further information, see:

1. AI Urgent Action - Pakistani activist abducted, risks torture: Shams-ul-din Baloch http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA33/009/2010/en/a1ec1935-34ed-48cd-91d1-210aece9f796/asa330092010en.html

2. AI Public Statement - Pakistan, Resolve hundreds of Baluch ‘disappearances', 25 February 2009: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/001/2009/en

3.
AI Public Statement - Pakistan: Allegations of serious human rights
violations in Balochistan must be investigated, 10 February 2006 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/004/2006

 

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Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.

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