Voice For Baloch Missing Persons
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Voice For Baloch Missing Persons

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) is an association representing family members of people who have been subject to enforced disappearance in Pakistan's southern province of Balochistan. According to VBMP Chairperson, Nasrullah Baloch, it consists entirely of "the family members of the people who have gone missing after having been whisked by the state intelligence agencies."[1] The VBMP helps families register cases of missing persons and lodge petitions in courts.[1] VBMP records data on enforced disappearances;[2] releases press statements;[3] organises protests, rallies, and hunger strike camps;[4][5] and facilitates the submission of first information reports and cases to Pakistani police stations and courts.[6][7] Its Chairperson is Nasrullah Baloch and its Vice Chairperson is Mama Qadeer.[7] It claims that people are disappeared by Pakistan's security agencies, including the Pakistan Army, the Frontier Corps, and its various intelligence agencies including Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence (Pakistan).[7] The VBMP calls for a political rather than military or violent solution to the battles between Baloch separatists and the sitting government.[8] VBMP Chairman and spokesperson, Nasrullah Baloch, has said that the VBMP is a "non-political organization struggling for human rights" in an interview to a local channel, Balochi TV.[6]

The VBMP has criticised international human rights organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch of paying insufficient attention to human rights atrocities in Balochistan.[6] The VBMP has also called on the European Union and the United Nations to take note of the situation.[1]

According to a 2019 report issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan entitled "Balochistan: Neglected Still", Mama Qadeer claimed that "47,000 Baloch and around 35,000 Pashtuns are 'missing'".[9] However, the numbers are contested. The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIOED) was set up by the Government of Pakistan to investigate, trace, and prosecute on behalf of "such persons as has been picked up/taken into custody by any Law Enforcing/Intelligence Agency, working under the civilian or military control, in a manner which is contrary to the provisions of the law".[10] In January 2018, it said that only 1,532 cases of enforced disappearances were pending, of which only 125 cases were from Balochistan.[11] VBMP says that women and children are also abducted.[1] This has been confirmed in an independent investigation by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, published in 2019.[9]

Organisation of the VBMP

The VBMP Chairperson is Nasrullah Baloch. The Vice Chairperson is Mama Qadeer. The VBMP operates through district coordinators across the province of Balochistan. All members of the VBMP are families of people who have been enforcibly disappeared.[1]

District coordinators are regularly harassed and the VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch says that two have been abducted and killed.[6]

In June 2019, Ali Haider Baloch, a VBMP district coordinator who as a child took part in a "long march" arranged by the organisation, was abducted.[12] He was released a few days later.[13]

History of the VBMP

Though the VBMP was formally founded on 27 October 2009, but its members have been active since the first known enforced disappearance, that of Ali Asghar Bangulzai in Balochistan in 2000.[14] Ali Asghar Bangulzai was abducted in 2000 for 14 days and then released; he was abducted against in 2001 and remains missing to this day.[1][6] Nasrullah Baloch supports the efforts of his family to find his uncle, Ali Asghar Bangulzai.[15][16]

The VBMP takes responsibility for pushing the Supreme Court of Pakistan to order that police stations issue First Information Reports demanded by families of the missing in 2010.[6] In the same period, the VBMP was pushing the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take "suo motu" notice of missing persons in Balochistan.[17]

In June 2010, the government established a commission consisting of two members and other institutional representatives to look into the missing persons issue, according to the VBMP in a report presented to the National Commission for Human Rights, a state arm.[18]

In 2011, the mutilated body of Jalil Rekhi, the son of VBMP Vice Chairperson Mama Qadeer was found, "with bullet wounds and cigarette burns." Rekhi was abducted in 2009.[19]

On 1 April 2011, VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch said that 121 bodies had been recovered in just eight months. At the same press conference, he announced hunger strike camps; he also said that he had a list of 1,300 Baloch missing persons.[5]

In 2012, the VBMP submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of Pakistan.[6]

In 2012, the current head of the Government Commission Retired Justice Javed Iqbal conducted three days of hearings on Balochistan's missing persons but declared that the government agencies were not involved in abduction and enforced disappearances.[18]

On 18 September 2012, VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch said that he was receiving threats.[20]

In August 2013, VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch said that 70 bodies had been found during the tenure of the incumbent government.[21]

On 12 September 2013, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that they had received documentation from the home and tribal affairs department of the province of Balochistan that 592 mutilated bodies had been found around the province. The VBMP said that the numbers were under-reported. Dawn also reported that another 132 cases were pending before the Supreme Court and the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.[22]

On 31 December 2013, the VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch said that 161 Baloch workers were subjected to extrajudicial killings across the province. He also said that 510 "Baloch political workers" were picked up by the "secret services". The provincial home and tribal affairs denied the accusation, saying that the numbers were lower than those claimed by the VBMP. The VBMP Chairperson also said that Balochistan's Frontier Corps chief was issued a contempt notice by the Supreme Court over the issue of missing persons.[23]

At the end of 2013, Justice Hani Irfan Muslim, a member of a two-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan hearing cases of Baloch missing persons, called for security to be given to the VBMP chairperson, Nasrullah Baloch.[24] The march began late October, 2013.[25]

In June 2014, mass graves were discovered in Tootak, Khuzdar.[26] Two of the bodies recovered were part of VBMP's list. The VBMP was not allowed to visit the mass graves.[18] Chief Justice Tassadug Hussain Jilani eventually took sou motu notice, directing the Inspector General of Balochistan to look into the discovery of mutilated bodies.[27][28]

On 1 April 2014, the Asian Human Rights Commission put out an Urgent Appeal Case warning of threats against VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch. According to the appeal, Nasrullah Baloch had been receiving threats for over a year from unknown persons claiming to be from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.[29]

In 2014, the VBMP led a historic "long march" from its capital of Quetta down through Karachi, up through Punjab and Lahore and ending up in Pakistan's capital of Islamabad.[7]

On 9 December 2015, VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch announced that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had discharged 127 cases, and claimed that the actual number of missing people was more than 27,000. During a press conference in Quetta, he said, "We had pinned our hopes and had lots of expectation from Supreme Court that it will play its due role to discover the disappeared person from Balochistan and Pakistan. But with a single stroke of pen the SC has vanished turned our hopes to nightmares. We will continue and intensify its protest and meetings against enforced-disappearances until all our disappeared people a[re] safely discovered."[30]

In January 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the federal government to come up with a list of missing persons after an application from VBMP.[31]

In 2016, the BBC reported that over 1000 mutilated bodies had been found in Balochistan. The VBMP Chairperson, Nasrullah Baloch, said that most of those disappeared were activists.[32]

On 3 January 2016, the Chairperson for the VBMP, Nasrullah Baloch, said that 463 people were enforcibly disappeared in Balochistan in 2015; he also said that the number could be hired because the federal government admitted to arresting 9000 people under the National Action Plan. According to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, 157 mutilted bodies were found in 2015 alone.[33]

On April 7, 2016, the VBMP appealed in court for review of the decision about the disposal of missing person's case that was accepted for hearing. The VBMP said that the practice of abduction and the dumping of mutilated bodies was continuing at the same pace.[30]

In May 2016, VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch presented a report to the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (NCHR). In the report, the VBMP said that law enforcement agencies had admitted to arresting 12,000 people across the province. The VBMP also described how entire communities are under siege by the military, about extrajudicial detainment, that people have been taken under the pretence of being militants, and that women and children have also been affected. The VBMP also cites one operation: "On November 8th 2015, in Bolan area the government forces arrested around 28 women and children who were shifted to Quetta the capital of the Balochistan." During this operation, crops were also burnt, says the VBMP. They also reported receiving threats and harassment, with message that VBMP should cease its public work.[18]

In June 2017, VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch was abducted from a tailoring shop in Quetta. He was released after an interrogation.[34]

On 11 September 2017, the VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch and the Vice Chairman Mama Abdul Qadeer Baloch urged human rights organisations to establish a joint force on the issue of missing persons.[35] VBMP Chairperson Nasrullah Baloch also said that 41 cases had been sent to the Supreme Court of Pakistan with the consent of families of the missing.[36]

On 16 January 2019, Dawn reported that the VBMP suspended its hunger strike camp for the first time in 10 years, for a period of 2 months, after assurances from the provincial government that steps would be taken to return those who have been enforcibly disappeared.[4]

On 24 June 2019, retired Justice Fazlur Rehman Bazai started hearing cases in Balochistan of missing persons over the course of "nine consecutive hearings" that took up 122 cases.[37]

On 29 June 2019, Balochistan's Home Minister Mir Ziaullah Langove revealed that 200 Baloch missing persons returned home after 1 January 2019, though the Chairperson of the VBMP Nasrullah Baloch put the number far lower, at 103 missing persons.[38] In a news report on 31 December 2018, VBMP Chairperson said he provided a list of 110 missing persons to the provincial government.[39] Six months later, it was reported that the VBMP provided Langove and the provincial government a list of 250 missing persons alongside the 40 cases that were already being heard in a commission set up in Quetta.[38]

According to the Chairperson of the VBMP, Nasrullah Baloch, groups of missing persons started returning home in the summer of 2019. On 3 July 2019, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported that 12 people had returned over the preceding 9 days to various homes around Balochistan. This took place during hearings in Balochistan's capital of Quetta, by retired Justice Fazlur Rehman Bazai.[37]

The United Nations,[40] the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan,[9]Human Rights Watch,[41] and Amnesty International[42] have condemned enforced disappearances in Balochistan.

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Akbar, Malik Siraj. "Ali Asghar Bangulzai". Malik Siraj Akbar.
  2. ^ Nazish, Kiran (6 January 2014). "Balochistan's Missing Persons". The Diplomat. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. "Today press conference in Voice for Baloch Missing Person Hunger Strike Camp in front of Quetta Press Club". Daily Motion. Retrieved 2019.
  4. ^ a b Shah, Syed Ali (16 January 2019). "Missing persons' relatives suspend protest after 10 years following Balochistan govt assurances". Dawn. Retrieved 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Baloch missing persons: 121 bodies recovered in eight months". The Express Tribune. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Exclusive interview of Nasrullah Baloch with Balochi TV Online". Balochwarna News. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Hashim, Asad (28 February 2014). "Families of missing Baluch march for justice". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "Political solution sought of the Baloch conflict". Daily Balochistan Express. 1 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (September 2019). "Balochistan: Neglected Still" (PDF). Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "About Us". Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, Government of Pakistan. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ Haq, Riazul. "1,532 cases of enforced disappearances still pending". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ "Baloch boy who marched thousands of miles has gone missing". The Balochistan Post. 19 June 2019.
  13. ^ Daur, Naya (21 June 2019). "Story Of Ali Haidar Baloch". Naya Daur.
  14. ^ Hanif, Mohammad (August 2013). "Looking for Uncle Ali". Tanqeed. Retrieved 2019.
  15. ^ "Missing persons' case: 13 years on, family of Quetta tailor wait on justice". The Express Tribune. 19 October 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ "Seventeen years, Ali Asghar Bangulzai still remains a 'Missing Person'". The Balochistan Post. 19 October 2018.
  17. ^ Akbar, Shehzad (17 October 2010). "Supreme Court urged to take suo motu notice". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 2019.
  18. ^ a b c d "A Brief Report by Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) about Human Rights Violations in Balochistan". Balochwarna News. 30 May 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  19. ^ Shah, Benazir. "The lonely vigil of Pakistan's 'invisible man'". Al Jazeera.
  20. ^ "Nasrullah Baloch says he is getting threats". Dawn. 18 September 2012.
  21. ^ "70 bodies had been found during the tenure of the incumbent government: Nasrullah Baloch". The Balochistan Point.
  22. ^ Shah, Syed Ali (12 September 2013). "Balochistan unrest: 592 mutilated bodies found in last three years". Dawn.
  23. ^ Shah, Syed Ali (31 December 2013). "Balochistan unrest: VBMP claims 161 extra-judicial killings in 2013". Dawn. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ Batool, Rimla. "Everyone involved in missing persons' case to be tried: SC". Pakistan Today. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ Shah, Syed Ali (27 October 2013). "Long march for Baloch missing persons begins". Dawn. Retrieved 2019.
  26. ^ "Thirteen bodies recovered from Khuzdar mass-graves: minister". Dawn. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 2019.
  27. ^ "CJ takes suo motu notice of mass graves discovered in Khuzdar". The Express Tribune. APP. Retrieved 2019.
  28. ^ "Khuzdar mass grave: Balochistan officials file reports in SC | Samaa Digital". Samaa TV.
  29. ^ "PAKISTAN: The life of Nasrullah Baloch is in danger; persons in plain clothes threaten to eliminate him if he pursues the cases of missing persons". Asian Human Rights Commission.
  30. ^ a b "Pakistan Supreme Court discharged names of missing persons from Balochistan: Nasrullah". Baloch Warna News. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 2019.
  31. ^ Iqbal, Nasir (13 January 2015). "SC seeks report on number of missing persons". Dawn.
  32. ^ "Pakistan accused over dumped bodies". 28 December 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  33. ^ "UNPO: Balochistan: Enforced Disappearances Reach Alarming Records in 2015". unpo.org.
  34. ^ "VBMP Chairman Nasrullah Baloch Returns Home". The Baloch News. 12 June 2017.
  35. ^ "Govt urged to solve missing persons issue". The Express Tribune. 11 September 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  36. ^ "VBMP calls for recovery of missing persons". Dawn. 11 September 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  37. ^ a b Shah, Syed Ali (3 July 2019). "12 missing persons return in Balochistan over last 9 days". Dawn. Dawn. Retrieved 2019.
  38. ^ a b Shah, Syed Ali (29 June 2019). "200 Baloch missing persons have returned home so far this year: home minister". Dawn. Dawn. Retrieved 2019.
  39. ^ Shah, Syed Ali (31 December 2018). "Will ensure recovery of missing persons while following state laws: Balochistan home minister". Dawn.
  40. ^ "Enforced disappearances can't be justified under any circumstances: UN group". The Express Tribune. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 2019.
  41. ^ We Can Torture, Kill, or Keep You for Years' Enforced Disappearances by Pakistan Security Forces in Balochistan (PDF) (Report). Human Rights Watch. July 2011. Retrieved 2019.
  42. ^ "Amnesty International Says Balochistan Atrocities Continue to Rise in Pakistan" (Press release). Amnesty International. February 23, 2011. Retrieved 2019.

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