WASHINGTON DC: In response to the requests of families of victims of enforced disappearances, work has begun in real earnest for the launch of an international committee to seek justice for the missing persons in Balochistan at international fora.
The first meeting of the committee connected pro-independence activists from four nations, Canada, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States and was held through a teleconference last weekend.
The main objective of the new committee is to help connect the families of the “missing persons”, known in U.N. terms as victims of involuntary and enforced disappearances, with the relevant U.N. organizations.
The committee will be duly registered and based in Sweden. However, the board members will be from different countries – Balochistan, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, and United States.
Baloch victim families have long complained that international agencies are doing precious little to help them. However, there are certain procedures and mechanisms involved in bringing cases to the attention of the premier U.N. Working Group on Involuntary and Enforced Disappearances, or WGEID, Geneva, which were not being followed.
The committee is being launched in Sweden on a request of Banuk Farzana Majeed, sister of Zakir Majeed, vice chairman of the Baloch Students Organization Azad, who was abducted on June 8 last year and nothing is known about his whereabouts.
Lately, Pakistan intelligence agencies have begun executing the victims of enforced disappearances. Ten badly mutilated bodies of these victims were recovered during the last two weeks.
The bodies of Zohaib Rodini and Khan Mohammad Baloch were found in Ferozabad area near Khuzdar on Saturday. The relative of the two said that they were abducted by the Pakistani para-military forces from Khuzdar some weeks ago. A third body, that of Shajahan Langov, resident of Qilli Ismael, was recovered from Sabzal Road in Quetta on Sunday. He was abducted by Pakistan secret services from his house about a month ago.
Identity of the other victims are Majeed Langov, 19, Ashfaq Ahmed, 23, Farooq Mengal, 24, Nazeer Ahmed, 25, Faiz Mohammad Bangulzai, 26, and Bahar Khan Bangulzai, 32, and Azizullah Baloch.
According to Naser Ullah Baloch, chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, this year there have been at least 50 cases of enforced disappearances. Only a couple of cases were reported to the WGIED so far.
In 2009, only three cases from Balochistan were reported to the WGIED.
The latest killings in Balochistan have been duly reported to Jeremy Sarkin, who heads the WGIED; Manfred Nowak, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture; Felice D. Gaer, member, UN Committee on Torture; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and T. Kumar, Asia director of the Amnesty International in Washington DC
As many as 300 Baloch activists have become victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan since the civilian government of former Karachi playboy Asif Ali Zardari took power in 2008, but barely half dozen cases were reported to the WGIED.
The founding committee members have appealed to the victim families not to be misled that the launch of the committee would automatically secure the release of their loved ones as they emphasized the success rate is barely 20 percent. According to the WGIED, over the years as many as 50,000 cases of enforced disappearances were brought to the notice of the UN body, but barely 20 percent of these cases were actually resolved.
The committee will include highly respected Baloch activists, writers, poets, radio producers and leaders from many countries.
Members on the committee will include Mehran Baluch, youngest son of legendary Baloch leader Nawab Khair Bakhsh Marri; Kachkol Ali Avocate, former Balochistan fisheries minister who says he has spiritually resigned from the National Party, and Noordin Mengal, member of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (U.N.P.O.).
The lone American woman on the committee is Laurie Deamer, who has been advocating the independence of Balochistan for two years now.
Prominent Baluch columnist, novelist and playwright Hafeez Hassanabadi will also be on the committee, while his estranged nephew and former senator, Sanaullah Baloch, has offered full support to the work of the committee in an informal capacity.
The committee will have a limited mandate of contacting international organizations, specifically the WGEID, and International Criminal Court, and U.N. special rapporteurs about each and every case of enforced disappearances in Balochistan. It will also be in liaison with international NGOs such as International Committee Against Enforced Disappearances and Asian Federation Against Enforced Disappearances, among others.
The web site for the panel will be based in London and managed by Faiz Baluch, who was arrested along with Balochistan national hero Hyrbyair Marri, under pressure of military regime of former dictator General Pervez Musharraf, on charges of terrorism two years ago. Faiz Baluch and Hyrbyair Marri were later exonerated.
Nearly half a dozen members, including Nasrullah Baloch, chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, will also serve on the committee from Balochistan.
Other details are being hammered out among the committee members.