Masses must push government to stem the rot in Balochistan:

Lahore, December 9: On International Human Rights Day, December 10, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon every citizen to join the people of Balochistan in their struggle for the realisation of their rights and to urge the government to make vigorous efforts to ensure respect for the rights of the people in the long suffering province.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Commission said, “This year HRCP is commemorating December 10, the International Human Rights Day, in solidarity with the people of Balochistan in support of their aspirations to realize their rights. This is because we believe that the human rights situation facing the people in Balochistan, irrespective of their ethnic, religious or sectarian identity, is an issue of foremost concern in the country today. HRCP reiterates its grave distress at the absence of adequate measures to resolve lingering issues of human rights violations. It is a matter of grave alarm that 107 new cases of enforced disappearance have been reported in Balochistan in 2011, and the ‘missing persons’ are increasingly turning up dead. Bodies at least 225 ‘missing persons’ have been recovered from various parts of the province since July 2010. It is scandalous that not a signle person has been held accountable for these disappearances and killings.

The situation is particularly grave for non-Muslims and minority Muslim sects. As many as 80 members of the Shia Hazara community have been killed in the province this year alone, for no reason other than their religious belief.

HRCP also has serious concern at targeted killing of teachers, intellectuals and non-Baloch ‘settlers’ in Balochistan and calls upon all political elements in the province and beyond to unequivocally condemn these killings and play their role in ending such callous acts of violence.The precarious situation in Balochistan has been further compounded by targeting of human rights defenders in the province by the various parties to the simmering conflict, making access to reliable information on the human rights situation all the more difficult. The murder of two HRCP activists and three journalists in the province in 2011 signifies the dangers that those highlighting human rights violations face on a daily basis.

HRCP calls upon the government to deal with threats to human rights defenders and facilitate their safe access to all parts of the province. It also expects the civil society and the media to engage more diligently with the issue and play their role in ending the silence on violations of human rights and demand justice for violations.The primary responsibility for ensuring rights and tackling this unfortunate state of affairs lies with the government, but that does not mean that the people have to remain passive spectators until the state is woken from its slumber. The people must realize that these problems are not Balochistan’s problems alone and that their resolution is a vital prerequisite to the progress and prosperity of the country. It is time for every citizen to join the people of Balochistan in their struggle and reassure them that they do not stand alone in their struggle for the realisation of their rights. HRCP urges the government to take immediate and meaningful measures to ensure all human rights for all people in Balochistan, including their right to life, justice, peace, progress, control over their resources and democratic management of their affairs.”

Zohra Yusuf


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