Candle Light Vigil in the Memory of Prof. Saba Dashtyari and Saleem Shehzad in Canada

Vancouver, June 12, 2011 – Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada) and the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (Canada) joined hands with the secular and democratic representatives of the local communities and the provincial parliament to pay tributes to the martyred professor of Balochistan University, Prof. Saba Dashtyari and investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad at Holland Park, Surrey, British Columbia.

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In a statement released by BHRC (Canada), the organization’s Vice President and Co-ordinator for IVBMP (Canada), Aziz Baloch informed that a significant number of Canadian Baloch took part in a Candle Light Vigil to protest the extrajudicial killing of Prof. Saba Dashtyari and Saleem Shahzad by the Pakistani I.S.I death squads in Quetta and Islamabad respectively, earlier this month. The participants in the rally came from all walks of life including the South Asian community in Vancouver and Honourable Sue Hammell, MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) elect from Green Timber, Surrey, BC.

The participants in the Sunday rally held portraits of Prof. Saba Dashtyari and Saleem Shahzad and lit candles to honour the memory of the departed souls. Representatives of communities, organizations, and the Provincial Assembly of British Columbia delivered speeches, highlighting the life, struggle, and the gruesome murders of Prof. Saba Dashtyari and Saleem Shahzad.

Addressing the peaceful gathering at the Holland Park, Aziz Baloch informed the participants and the local media on the life and struggle of Prof. Saba Dashtyari. He stated that Prof. Saba Dashtyari is a household name in Balochistan because of his unwavering commitment in promoting knowledge and awareness about Baloch history, culture, literature, and language. Prof. Dashtyari also authored 35 books on the subject of Balochistan and founded the first ever research centre and library dedicated to educating the youth about their heritage and language. Furthermore, elaborating on the inhuman murder of Prof. Dashtyari, Mr. Baloch stated that professor’s extensive knowledge on Baloch nation’s history, struggles founded the basis for his activism, and he became an outspoken representative of the cause for nation’s liberation from the occupation of Iran and Pakistan. Mr. Baloch indicated that the only weapons that Prof. Dashtyari ever possesed were his books and his pen, which became a threat to the state machinery of Pakistan and the cause for his assassination by the infamous I.S.I.

Aziz Baloch also condemned the abduction and murder of the investigative journalist Saleem Shahzad by the Pakistani I.S.I. and paid rich tributes to the slain reporter for Asia Times. He added that similarly, Balochistan has lost courageous journalists such as Lala Hameed Baloch, Ilyas Nazar, Mohammad Khan Sasoli, and Siddiq Eido who were abducted, tortured, and target-killed by the same I.S.I. death squads.

Honourable MLA Sue Hammell from Green Timber, Surrey and Prof. Charanji of South Asia Network for Secularism & Democracy (SANSAD) also addressed the gathering and expressed their concerns over the human rights situation in Balochistan and the rest of Pakistan. They supported the right to freedom of speech and the protection of journalists working in dangerous conditions. Hon. MLA Hammell said, “It is important for us in Canada to be well informed on what was going on in other parts of the world, especially in the regions and zones of conflict.”

Mr. Shehzad Nazir Khan was the moderator for the event and paid rich tributes to Prof. Saba Dashtyari and Saleem Shahzad. Mr. Khan concluded that the killers of Prof. Dashtyari and Saleem Shahzad are still at large while more deaths and brutal killings have surfaced in the Pakistani media related to security forces of the country.

Aziz Baloch,
Vice President, BHRC (Canada)
Coordinator, IVBMP (Canada)

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