Two years after international activist Karima Baloch’s death, questions surrounding what happened to her remain.
by Diary Marif
Two years after Karima Mehrab’s body was pulled from Lake Ontario, her friends and fellow human rights activists are still looking for answers about how she died.
Karima, 37, (known here as Karima Baloch as many immigrants from Balochistan use the last name Baloch) was a prominent student organizer who campaigned for Balochistan’s rights and called for justice for the hundreds of students and activists who go missing every year in Pakistan.
Balochis are an ethnic group native to Balochistan, in Southwest Asia. In the last century, with the foundation of modern nation-states, their homeland was occupied and divided between Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. There are no reliable statistics regarding the total number of Baloch people, though in 2013 their population was estimated at around 10 million. Approximately, around 70 percent of the total Baloch population lives in Pakistan-controlled Balochistan, whereas 20 percent inhabits the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and around 10 percent resides in the southern areas of Afghanistan.
Throughout the 20th century and up to today, Balochis have faced systematic discrimination, massacres, and forced resettlement. They have been deprived of their cultural, social, economic, and political rights in their own homeland. After the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, due to their adherence to Sunni Islam, the Balochis in Iran have become subjected to religious discrimination in addition to the existing ethnic discrimination.
The Bangladeshi Diaspora in North America has a newfound reason to acclaim October 14, 2022. On this day, two prominent Congress-members Steve Chabot and Ro Khanna introduced a bipartisan resolution in the 117th US Congress for formal recognition of Bangladeshi genocide of 1971. Although Congressman Chabot lost his re-election campaign during the recent midterm polls; the Bangladeshi-Americans hope, his colleagues will honor Chabot’s efforts and provide closure and solace to the genocide victims by censuring Pakistani military and its Islamist collaborators.
The birth of Bangladesh reminds us of one of the most ruinous genocides of the modern world. It started in the spring of 1971 when the Pakistani government launched the notorious Operation Searchlight to maintain order in its eastern Bengal province. Over the next nine months, Pakistani soldiers massacred approximately three million ethnic Bengalis and raped close to half a million Bengali women. The material destruction and ethnic cleansing was intentional and methodical as the Pakistan army mostly targeted Hindu Bengalis for extermination for their religious beliefs. In addition, a large number of nationalist Bengali Muslims seeking freedom from Pakistan were also slaughtered and raped.
Unprecedented protests have been taking place in Iran over the last two months, with thousands taking to the streets to protest the Islamic Republic. The uprising that began in response to the death of Mahsa (Zhina) Amini has been called a revolution by many, and has provided iconic images of resistance and symbols of hope.
One of the most enduring images from this uprising is a haunting photograph of Khodanoor Lajaei, a young Baloch–Iranian man, taken during his arrest and torture by Iranian authorities. The photo, which has gone viral, shows Lajaei inside a prison, slumped over and exhausted, with his arms and legs bound to a pole
Fridays in southeastern Iran have become days of rage and resistance. As they have for weeks, protesters marched through the streets after Friday prayers in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province, which has become a pivotal front in the anti-government uprising sweeping Iran.
In one video posted on social media, hundreds of men walk together through the dusty streets chanting “Death to Khamenei,” a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A video from a different part of the city shows a smaller group of women demonstrating: “Whether with hijab or without hijab, we’re going toward revolution,” they chant in unison. In another clip, shots can be heard in the background.
International media and most analysts observing Iran’s protests have so far focused on the anti-theocratic sentiments and economic factors that drive mass grievances, leaving out the ethnic dimension. However, understanding Iran’s periphery and the grievances of its ethnic minorities is essential in explaining the recent revolution in Iran and the government’s disproportionate use of force against ethnic minorities.
Iran’s population is estimated at around 87,000,000, roughly half of whom are ethnic Persians that predominantly live in central Iran, the rest being Kurds, Baluchis, Azeris, Arabs, Turkmen, Lurs, and Caspian ethnic groups. Although the successive regimes in Iran have succeeded in tackling ethnic uprisings, they lost the ideological and political war against minority ethno-nationalisms.
On October 2, 2022, a young Baloch named Khudanoor Lajai was seriously injured during anti-regime protests in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Balochistan. He later died because the Iranian regime’s hospital refused him treatment. Sometime before, he had been arrested and tortured and tied to an Iranian flag pole overnight by the Iranian police for an argument with the son of a member of the Basiji paramilitaries. His story deserves to be told.
What happened to Khudanoor? What is the story of this photo? How was he killed?
“There are non-citizens who have neither identity papers nor property, but who are ready to work to build a better world. »
The Diplomat’s Kiran Nazish spoke with Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur, who has been one of the very few to have written on the issue in Pakistan. For speaking out on Baloch rights in Pakistan, Talpur has been challenged and attacked repeatedly.
Balochistan, the largest province in Pakistan, has been marred by multiple conflicts that have left the province in a state of terminal chaos. While the state of Pakistan, the parliament and the provincial government are accused of neglecting the province, the military and intelligence agencies have been continuously blamed for brutalities, especially the abduction and extrajudicial killing of Baloch. According to Voice for Missing Baloch Persons, about 18,000 Baloch have been abducted from Balochistan since the 1970s. Government and NGO figures vary dramatically.
Excerpts from an article by Michael Georgy and Tom Perry for Reuters
A prominent Sunni cleric who directed unprecedented criticism at Iran’s supreme leader over a bloody crackdown in his hometown appeared unbowed this week by warnings from security forces, pressing his demands for more rights for his minority and voicing support for other groups in country-wide unrest.
Molavi Abdolhamid has long been a dissenting voice seeking better living standards and more political representation for the Sunni minority in the mostly Shi’ite Islamic Republic, including the Baluchi ethnic group to which he belongs and the Kurdish population. Iran’s government denies discrimination against Sunnis.