Masked men target Baloch protesters, steal communication speakers

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Baloch Protest Against Genocide and Disappearances Enters Day 33 Amid Harassment and Midnight Raid
Midnight raid at Baloch protest site (Photo - Social Media)

Despite facing continuous harassment, profiling, and bullying by the Islamabad Police and Pak Army, the Baloch protest against the alleged genocide and enforced disappearances in the region has entered its 33rd day with a steadfast sit-in outside the National Press Club.

However, the peaceful protest witnessed a worrying turn of events on the night of December 25th, as masked men armed with guns arrived at the sit-in camp in a Vigo car. At approximately 3:15 am, unidentified individuals dressed in civilian clothes stole the protest’s sound system. This occurred despite the presence of multiple police officers and surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the National Press Club, where the sit-in protest is taking place.

The incident took place in the middle of the night, when most families were asleep. Reportedly, the masked individuals harassed the protesters, stole the speaker system used for communication, and fled the scene. Disturbingly, Islamabad Police were present during the entire incident, raising questions about their role and inaction.

This incident comes immediately after the police installing a surveillance camera in front of the protest camp just a day prior. These actions by Islamabad police are fueling concerns about intimidation and suppression of the peaceful protest. Baloch activists and human rights groups have strongly condemned the midnight raid and the continuous harassment of the protesters.

The incident has raised serious questions about the effectiveness of security measures at the protest and the role of the police in ensuring the safety of demonstrators. The ease with which the individuals departed the scene, despite being within camera range and with police officers present, has fueled doubts and concerns about the authorities’ commitment to protecting the protesters.

Adding to the frustration, the police responded to inquiries about the theft by claiming they were “unaware of the issue.” This response further angered and dismayed the protesters, who believe the police must have witnessed the incident or could have easily apprehended the perpetrators if they had been truly vigilant.

The ongoing protest highlights the plight of the Baloch people and the long-standing issue of enforced disappearances in the region. While the exact number remains unknown, human rights groups estimate that thousands of Baloch activists and civilians have disappeared over the years by the Army. Some victims have resurfaced but are too traumatized to even talk, and the bodies of others have been found lying across different parts of Pakistan-occupied Balochistan. The rest of the victims are still missing, reliving their worst nightmares over and over again.

The international community has also expressed concern about the situation in Balochistan and called for a transparent investigation into the enforced disappearances. However, the Pakistan Army has consistently denied any wrongdoing and accused the protesters of being involved in terrorist activities. As the protest enters its 34th day, the eyes of the world remain on Islamabad. The peaceful demonstration for justice and accountability stands as a stark reminder of the need for transparency and human rights in the region.

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