Activists of UK-based Baloch and Sindhi groups staged a demonstration in front of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of British Prime Minister Theresa May, over extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances being carried out in Pakistan.
Sayed Alam Shah Sindhi, a human rights activist, said, “Pakistan is a country where there is no rule of law or justice. Pakistan is definitely in a state of war and it always initiates it, especially against the Baloch and Sindhis under different operations. This war is only to show their significance in society. Today, we are here to raise the slogan against illegal arrests, abductions and extra judicial killings of the people of Sindh and Balochistan.”
Mansoor Baloch, an activist of the Baloch Republican Party in London, said, “We are here in front of the Prime Minister’s house to let the international community know that Pakistan is a terrorist state which should stop abducting Sindhi people and let them live in peace.”
In a petition submitted to the office of the British Prime Minister, the members of the World Sindhi Congress and other concerned residents of UK stated that British aid to Pakistan should come with strings attached to force Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and observation of international law according to the UN charter.
This, they said, would be an additional step toward supporting international human rights law and the support of the Sindhi people.
World Sindhi Congress leader Hidayat Bhutto said, “We are here to protest against the kidnapping and enforced disappearances of Sindhi political and human rights activists in Sindh. We are here to ask the UK government to press upon Pakistan to stop the heinous crimes against humanity. These crimes are being conducted against peaceful and peace loving people also, especially, who are struggling against their national rights. More than 300 people have been kidnapped by Pakistan.”
The petition stated that they have gathered to draw the attention of the British government to the ongoing enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings of Sindhi political and human rights activists by Pakistani intelligence agencies.
The petition also pointed out that the extrajudicial killing of political and human rights defenders have become a norm in Pakistan, where the security agencies are operating with impunity. “The security agencies’ modus-operandi is to abduct, torture and hold the activists incommunicado for as long as they see fit. Later, the activists’ are either killed and dumped on the roadsides, or released, but only after they have been brutally tortured and physically and psychologically traumatised.”
Mehnaz Baloch, Baloch political activist, said: “In the name of the nation of Balochistan; all those that sacrificed their lives for the country, we have gathered here for them. I would like to say that Pakistan is the father of terrorism and we need to raise our voice against them to put an end to it. Our aim is to bring peace in the country and stop all possible ugly happening in the world. And Because of this Pakistan is bringing shame to all Muslim countries and brothers around the world. We only demand a free Balochistan!”
The speakers noted that the disappearances of Sindhi people indicated that the perpetrators seem to be official security personnel – rangers, police, and intelligence agencies. It is believed that more than 52 political activists are still missing in Sindh.
Lakhu Luhana, Chairman World Sindhi Congress, said, “You want me not to raise my voice….you want me not to revolt, but how many of you will keep mum? There are thousands who are revolting and objecting over the issue. Pakistan has created an atmosphere of terror, horror and suffocation on the Sindhi people who want to live in peace in their motherland. If you go to see, then Pakistan is number one in enforced disappearances, which are being carried out since ages. Sindhi people have got their right and this kind of violence should be stopped. People like us should raise their voice to fight for them and support them in all possible ways.”
Listing out the atrocities done by the Pakistan military, the petition stated that from 2012-2014, a similar wave of disappearances targeted numerous Sindhi young men. Mutilated dead bodies of many of those victims were found in later months. Families and friends are genuinely concerned about their lives and welfare of the recently disappeared activists.
There has been a resurgence in violence against Sindhi political and human rights activists, while the official security personnel continue to act with impunity.
The speakers, through their petition, apprised the British Prime Minister about the worst onslaughts of violence being faced by Sindhis in their national history from Pakistani establishment agencies. This included disappearances and extrajudicial killings of Sindhi political workers, the state-sponsored rise in religious extremism, persecution of religious minorities, and the complete denial of rights and opportunities for social, economic, cultural and political development.
The Pakistani intelligence agencies encourage and provide resettlement opportunities for the Taliban in Sindh and promote the establishment of religious seminaries, which result in systematic discrimination, hostility and the persecution of indigenous Sindhi people.
The speakers requested the British government to exert pressure on Pakistan to guarantee the protection and safety of Sindh.
“We respectfully request your acknowledgement and condemnation of the continuing human rights violations being carried out against Sindhis by the Pakistani government and its proxies. In June of this year, the United Kingdom’s statement at the Human Rights Council session evidenced your concern over enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh,” the petition states.
“We appreciate your support for the international rule of law as well as international human rights standards, and we ask that you also stand with the Sindhi people to condemn the enforced disappearances currently being undertaken in Sindh. Further, we request that you pursue an international enquiry into the human rights violations against Sindhi people,” it concluded. (ANI)
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