Yesterday, at 10am, #LiberateBalochistan started trending worldwide.
#LiberateBalochistan was trend at number 7 in Worldwide, number 2 in India, Bahrain and Oman, and number 4 in United Arab Emirates.
It was an effort to highlight the current struggle for freedom in what the internet and social media is calling “Occupied Balochistan”.
The conflict in Balochistan began after Pakistan’s independence in 1948 due to its demands for greater autonomy. In recent years, the tension between Baloch opposition activists and the Pakistan government has worsened, reportedly resulting in forced disappearances and military brutalities in the region.
The Twitter movement seems to have been begun by Indian tweeps, who encouraged people on social media to start the movement on Saturday night.
In a post, Mumbai-based Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) posts: “Dear Balochs after ‘India With Balochistan’, we are going to trend #LiberateBalochistan tomorrow, Sunday at 10am (India Time Zone) ~ India.” Since then, there has been a significant participation from the Baloch people and Indian tweeps.
In the initial wave of tweets with the hashtag #LiberateBalochistan, numerous posts called for the unity of the Baloch people in their fight for freedom. Gidaan Baloch @BrahoBaloch, a social media activist wrote: Baloch liberation movement isn’t a fight only, but an ideology, a war against colonial mindset and a revolution #LiberateBalochistan.”
Another Baloch human rights activist, Jan Baaz Bugti @JB_Bugti, affirms the unity of this movement. He tweeted: “We are One Voice.”
Some tweets focused on the people who sacrificed their lives to further this cause. Gull Nawaz Bukti @GN_Bugti, an activist of the Baloch Republican Party, tweeted: “Two great icons of Balochistan’s freedom movement who sacrificed their lives to #LiberateBalochistan.” Shahsawa Baloch @S_BALOCH, a Baloch twitter user, said: “We #Baloch don’t mourn our martyrs, we wed them & sing songs of liberation on their martyrdom. #LiberateBalochistan.”
In response to the lack of intervention of the international community in Balochistan, many tweets tagged the United Nations in order to frame their struggle as an international issue that requires its reaction and involvement. Faiz M. Baluch @FaizMBaluch, a Baloch journalist, posted: “The Balochistan Liberation Charter is the guideline to #LiberateBalochistan. Support BLC: balochistanliberationcharter.com/modules/xcente … @UN.”
As this twitter movement gained momentum, it re-emphasised the impact of social media on the political sphere and its ability to mobilise individuals.