Karachi: For Amna Baloch, yet another Eid is spent in front of the Karachi Press Club protesting the state’s inaction against the enforced disappearances of Baloch men. Amna, the organizer of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, is among the many Baloch women who have spent over a decade trying to know the whereabouts of Baloch men who have disappeared.
“This is the second Eid-ul-Adha where we are out protesting instead of celebrating,” she said questioning the provincial Sindh government’s inaction in the matter. The protest was led by largely Baloch women, children, and young girls with senior citizens and men also lending their support.
“Every time we drink water or have a meal we worry whether he has had anything to eat or drink.”
The heavy rains in Karachi and the indifferent and often callous attitude of both the Federal and Provincial governments have not deterred the Baloch families whose loved ones have gone missing.
The protestors have been in front of the Karachi Press Club over the last two weeks pressing for their demands. The fact that the media has largely ignored the protest, which also took place on the day of Eid, has not gone unnoticed by the protestors.
“We are in front of the Karachi Press Club,” emphasized a protester.
Activists claim that over 5,000 Balochs, mostly men, have been abducted by the state yet it has ignored the matter.
Recently, a minister of the ruling party made some insensitive comments about the missing people but later clarified that the matter was beyond their purview.
Earlier Athar Minallah, Chief Justice of Pakistan Supreme Court had said the state is involved in enforced disappearances.
Seema Baloch, sister of Shabir Baloch who was abducted six years ago and never seen since then, was joined by Shabir’s wife Zareena Baloch burst into tears in the protest.
“I know you are listening to us. I know we are being watched and I know you are here as well.”
Speaking about the ordeal, Seema said, “Every time we drink water or have a meal we worry whether he has had anything to eat or drink.” she said they have been living their lives but they feel dead inside. She, however, seemed determined to fight for the cause. “We Balochs will carry it through,” said Seema.
Saeeda Baloch, a young girl has been at the protest for a long after her father Abdul Hameed Zehri was abducted 15 months ago. Saeeda said they are done with living in fear and are no longer afraid of Pakistani agencies.
“I know you are listening to us. I know we are being watched and I know you are here as well,” she said about the Pakistani agencies.
She said the state stole their lives when it abducted their father.
She rued the fact the state did not understand peaceful protest.
“Don’t forget, Saeeda spoke while wiping her tears: when we stop coming to peaceful protest because this is what you want us to not hold a peaceful protest.”
She said once her father returns home they are willing to leave the state since Balochs are not considered citizens.
Sheema Kermani, classical dancer, activist, and founder of Tehrik-e-Niswan quoted and slightly rephrased Habib Jalib to describe the Baloch women’s protest: “Darte Hain Bandooqoon Wale En Baloch Nahti Larkiyoun Se” (People with guns are afraid of an unarmed Baloch woman)
She said the state needed to show the same concern towards the kidnapped Baloch as it showed for others.
Committees on Baloch issues
The protestors said the Sindh government was quick to form a committee to look into the matter but unfortunately, that was the end of it. A committee was formed when Baloch women and men were brutally beaten by Sindh police, another committee was formed to look into missing Baloch people. “Since we Baloch refuse to be silenced about the issue, the government has taken to forming committees either to divert attention from the protest or to give an impression that law is taking its course,” said Wahab Baloch, Deputy Organizer, Baloch Yakjehti Committee.
Amna said the protestors could not be cowed down as they were fighting for their fundamental rights. She said she could count and name several committees formed to look into the matter and their broken promises.
The committee formed by the Sindh government, she said, is no different.
“We know the conclusion the committee will arrive at,” she said.
She said for every Baloch who is released from the state’s custody, ten others are abducted. Recently, in Mastung, Balochistan, ten Balochs were picked up by Pakistani agencies. “We are demanding an end to enforced disappearance but the state is only adding to the problem,” she said.
A Baloch family at the protest had all their family members kidnapped.
Mahleb Baloch, whose father Dr. Deen Mohammed Baloch was abducted in 2009, has been at various such protests since then. She carried a book on missing persons with her to the protest. Mahleb said she does not know what to say at the protest as she has been repeating the same thing for over a decade now.
“I sometimes feel that joyous days like Eid are not for us anymore. We are shattered, and the state knows what we want – bring all missing people back,” she said.
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