‘Long march’ for the missing

by Amanullah Kasi

QUETTA, Oct 27: About 20 people, including women and children, set off for Karachi on Sunday under the banner of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) to highlight the issue of missing persons.

Participants of the ‘long march’ — led by VBMP Vice-Chairman Qadeer Baloch and carrying placards and photographs of missing persons — began their journey at the local press club. The march will culminate in a sit-in outside the Karachi Press Club.

The participants of the march said they were undertaking the long and arduous journey to highlight the plight of missing persons who were languishing in secret detention cells.

“We want to draw the attention of the international community to the issue of missing persons because all institutions in the country, including the higher judiciary, have failed to ensure their recovery or stop the practice of dumping of mutilated bodies,” VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Bungulzai said.

Formed in September of 2009, the VBMP set up its first protest camp in Quetta on Oct 18, 2009, and had managed to continue its struggle despite hardship, he said.

He said the group had also set up protest camps in Islamabad and Karachi but the issues of missing persons and dumping of mutilated bodies had remained unresolved despite directives issued by the Supreme Court to trace the missing persons.

Meanwhile, the Baloch Human Rights Organisation has announced that its members would join the ‘long march’ to raise voice against what the group called atrocities being faced by Baloch political activists.

Speaking at press conference, Bibi Gul Baloch, the group’s chairperson, said that over the years a large number of activists had died after being secretly arrested, which amounted to kidnapping and extra-judicial killing.

She said the reports of international rights organisations and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had exposed the excesses and violations of human rights in the province.

Ms Baloch claimed that 15,000 dead bodies had been dumped in different areas of Balochistan since 2009, some of them mutilated beyond recognition. Different nationalist organisations —- including the Baloch National Front, Baloch National Voice, Baloch National Movement and Baloch Students Organisation-Azad —- and self-exiled leader Nawabzada Hyarbyar Marri, in separate statements, had supported the ‘long march’ and praised the determination of the participants to raise a strong voice against oppression.


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