Open Letter to UN Secretary General by BSO-Azad

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UN Secretary General António Guterres. (Photo: UN.Org)
UN Secretary General António Guterres. (Photo: UN.Org)

Mr. António Guterres
United Nations Secretary-General
U.N. Headquarters
New York, NY 10017

Dear Sir,

The news of your upcoming visit to Pakistan has come with great hope for the victims of state brutalities, ill treatment and suppression in the country. Most importantly for the people of Balochistan whose grievances have not only being ignored but the silence surrounding the grave human rights violations have encouraged the perpetrators to commit more crimes against humanity with absolute impunity and has sent a distressing message of abandonment to the millions of Baloch people who live in constant fear for themselves and their families.

The humanitarian situation in Balochistan is commonly unknown to the world due to the blockade of communication means and unannounced imposition of censorship on national media. The Baloch people have been systematically marginalized and deprived of their basic human rights. Moreover, those who stand against state’s discriminate and brutal policies towards Baloch people are subjected to enforced disappearance and most of the time executed extra-judicially. Over the years, Baloch human rights groups and international human rights institutions on the situation of Balochistan have reported serious human rights violations against Baloch people, which is increasing with every passing day.

For the last one decade, we are witnessing a barrage of indiscriminate attacks by the Pakistani state targeting civilians and crackdown against political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and intellectuals including member and leadership of Baloch Students Organization-Azad.

On June 9th 2009, Zakir Majeeb, Ex-Vice Chairman of Baloch Students Organization-Azad (BSO-A) was forcibly disappeared by Pakistani security forces and is still missing. On August 14th 2013, Ex-General Secretary of BSO-A, Raza Jahangir was extra judicially executed by forces in Turbat. On March 18th 2014, Ex-Chairman of BSO-A, Zahid Baloch was forcibly disappeared in daylight in front of several eyewitnesses from Quetta, the capital of Balochistan. His whereabouts are unknown till this date. Similarly, the Ex-Information Secretary, Shabir Baloch was abducted by forces on October 4th 2016.

The human rights institutions in Balochistan have reported more than 20,000 “enforced disappeared” persons in Balochistan. On the contrary, the Pakistan government and security establishment’s response to these documented reports have ranged from blanket of denials of any wrongdoing by security forces to numerous attempts to discredit reports of abuses by human rights organizations, eyewitnesses and survivors. Pakistan’s security forces have direct control over operations in Balochistan and are granted authority from the civilian government and immunity from justice. Till date, no one has been investigated, charged or tried for these offenses.

Students have always remained the most vital organ of any nation and considered future pillars of the society. For the last few years, with increase in deployment of Pakistani soldiers in Balochistan, forces have occupied the majority of school buildings in Makran region and running them for military purposes. Forces are present in almost all major educational institutions including the University of Balochistan which resembles a military camp more than an educational institution. The students are forced to continue their studies in deep distress.

Sir, your participation in the conference to mark four decades of presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan will add the weight of your office on stake holders for Afghanistan conflict to come to an agreed resolution. However, the similar situation in Balochistan also requires your attention and commitment. The indiscriminate decades long military operations in Balochistan have compelled the people to abandon their settlements and ancestors land and migrate to other areas of Balochistan. Several hundreds have fled to neighboring countries where they are leading their lives in miserable conditions without recognition and legal status.

I urge you to unequivocally denounce the repressive practices of Pakistan military in Balochistan and proactively engage with the government of Pakistan through a visit to Balochistan. Please also convey your concerns about the gravity of the situation in Balochistan and strongly urge Pakistan to allow an international independent investigation into allegations of human rights abuses and enforced disappearances of thousands of activists by Pakistani security forces in Balochistan and effectively address the systematic genocide of Baloch people. I believe that your leadership on this matter would send a powerful message to the government and military and could prevent further atrocities and violations in Balochistan.

Sincerely,

Sohrab Baloch
Chairman
Baloch Students Organization–Azad

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