| by the Sri Lanka Guardian Correspondent reporting from Karachi
(December 31, 2012, Karachi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) is purely a non-political organization has been formed by the families of missing persons in 27 September 2009 with the sole objective of seeking the safe release of their enforced disappeared members by raising voice peacefully on all form. As you know from the formation of the organization till to date our organization is striving for the safe recovery of missing persons, and now more than 1000 days the member of the organization is sitting on token hunger strike camp.
Aims and Objectives:
1- To raise the issue of Baloch missing persons peacefully
2- To register the cases of Baloch missing persons
3- To collect the data about bullet riddled/decomposed bodies of Baloch missing persons
4- To raise voice over human rights abuses in Balochistan at the hands of army and intelligence agencies through peaceful means
5- To establish coordination with world community and international human rights organizations including United Nations.
After its formation, the organization started collecting details about Baloch missing political activists and bullet riddled/decomposed bodies and registering the petitions of missing persons in Supreme Court of Pakistan and Balochistan high court besides launching peaceful protest. When the central office bearers of VBMP paid visits to a number of districts in the Balochistan along with the district coordinators, they got to know that since the creation of Pakistan, Baloch political workers had been subjected to torture in all regimes by the state intelligences and army for raising their voice against injustices and excesses, keeping them in illegal detentions after their enforced disappearances.
The first case of enforced disappearance was recorded during the military operation of 1975 when Asad Mengal, the eldest son of former Chief Minister and Baloch elderly nationalist leader Sardar Attaullah Khan Mengal had been whisked away along with one of his friends namely Ahmad Shah by the personnel of intelligence agencies. However for being a high profile case, Asad Mengal incident had been reported, but there are hundreds of cases which were not reported or recorded.
The survey, VBMP conducted, shows that the intelligence agencies started again its illegal actions of whisking away the political workers in 2000 during Musharraf regime and put it on fast pace during the military operation in 2005 and 2006. It was also revealed that due to military operation which was on its full swing, over one hundred and fifty thousand Bugti tribesmen and around two hundred thousand Marri tribesmen had to leave their hire and hearth and settled in different districts of Balochistan and neighbouring provinces of Punjab and Sindh and still they are living there.
During the interviews of these displaced persons and other people, they claimed that around 14000 persons have been so far gone missing during different military operations and nobody knows their fate, whether they are alive or dead. There are a considerable numbers of those including women and children who have been killed in bombardment and shelling. We have so far collected the data of 2148 of baloch missing persons and 470 bullet riddled/decomposed bodies of disappeared persons.
The series of kill and dump policy (abduction of Baloch political activists and dumping their bullet riddled/decomposed bodies after torturing them for months in illegal detention cells) was again started in 2009 when a Baloch nationalist Ghulam Mohammad Baloch along with his two colleagues had been whisked away by personnel of state agencies in the broad day light and in the presence of hundreds of citizens from the chamber of their lawyer Kachkool Ali advocate in Turbat town. After a couple of days their bullet riddled bodies were found from a desolate area in the same district. Later the state agencies accelerated the process of killing and dumping against political activists since June, 2010.
Reasons for not recording the actual figures of missing persons:
1- Non-cooperation of families of missing persons with VBMP due to harassment by the personnel of state agencies, threatening them they will find the dead bodies of their near and dear in their custody or they (family members) will also be harmed if there is any attempt to approach any court of law, media and human rights organization.
2- And some of those family members of missing persons who ignored these threats and approached the courts, media and human rights organizations, their missing kith and kin were tortured and shot dead during the detention and their bodies were found in the streets. Many of the family members of missing persons were whisked away by personnel of intelligence agencies and their bullet riddled bodies were thrown in the streets. Jalil Reiki, the missing son of VBMP vice chairman Abdul Qadeer Baloch is such example. His body was found with multiple bullet wounds. His all bones were in pieces since was thrown from the helicopter. VBMP’s two district coordinators were killed after being abducted by state agencies. Like many others, the organization’s Finance Secretary was implicated in false cases. The purpose of these tactics in fact is a clear warning for the rest of families of missing persons either be silence or face the consequences.
3-Some of the families of missing persons are given false assurances by personnel of agencies for release of their kith and kin if they remain calm and silence.
4-Due to these tactics, fear penetrated deep among the family members of missing persons for not rising against intelligence agencies and army. However in the wake of registration of cases in supreme court of Pakistan on 5th March, 2012, few missing persons were set free that encouraged the people and then families of missing persons from far flung areas of Balochistan started approaching the court. The number of families rose to 300 who approched to submit their petitions in the apex court. But this courage did not prove long lasting as despite repeated court orders, the missing persons were not released rather over a dozen of bullet riddled bodies of missing persons were found in different areas of the province during the hearing of the cases.
Chief Justice Iftaikhar Mohammad Chaudhary more than once said in his remarks during the hearing of the cases that when the Supreme Court takes up the missing persons cases, the dead bodies of missing persons started falling (being found on the streets or in desolate areas). One of the petitioners fearing for the life of his missing relative prayed to Chief Justice during the hearing for not issuing the orders for the release of missing persons as instead of their release, the state agencies started killing them. It is on record that he withdrew his petition during the hearing.
5- Those lawyers who were pursuing the cases of missing persons were harassed by the state agencies by conducting raid on their houses while those lawyers who were associated with VBMP regarding missing persons cases were whisked away.
6- So far five military operations has been carried out in Balochistan during these military operations residents of affected areas were displaced in the year of 1981 huge number of Baloch persons migrated to Afghanistan from Kohlu district and other parts of Balochistan. In the year of 1992 they returned to Balochistan. They were the people who did not accept the existance of Pakistan they were the strong opponents and they categorically denied making national identity cards of Pakistan. In 1988 censes conducted in Pakistan during the censes these Baloch persons who were displaced by the above mentioned military operations were not present in Pakistan. This is why the huge data was not registered. This was the major reason that the data of said displaced persons has not been on the record.
Role of Balochistan High Court:
A number of cases were pending since 2000 before high court which made no action against intelligence agencies and resultantly, these agencies geared up their policy of whisking away political activists. The petitions of missing persons filed by the individuals were heard after months, however after formation of VBMP the office bearers appeared before Chief Justice of High Court, praying for giving these cases priority in the face of a human issue. Accepting the plea, the high court started taking up these cases on daily basis. But after few months, the hearing dates of these cases were fixed after months.
Role of Supreme Court of Pakistan:
It has taken suo moto notice of missing persons’ cases in 2005 and formally started hearing in the wake of a constitutional petition in 2007. When Chief Justice started summoning the heads of intelligence agencies in the courts regarding the missing persons cases and few individuals were released, but he was deposed in 2009 during Musharraf regime. After one year of his restoration, Chief Justice held two hearings of missing persons cases and referred their cases to another bench headed by then senior judge Justice Jawaid Iqbal who held only four hearings. These cases are still pending for long.
When a bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Iftaikhar Mohammad Chaudhary came to Balochistan on March, 05, 2012 regarding a petition over deteriorating law and order situation of the province, the bench also admitted a petition of VBMP for regular hearing after appearance of the family members of 171 missing persons. Many of the missing persons were released in the wake of regular hearing of the cases. Strong evidences came before the court against intelligence agencies in the wake of statements of a number of eye witnesses to the incidents of whisking away of political activists and in the light of these evidences, Chief Justice declared that intelligence agencies and security forces are involved in 85% cases of missing persons. Some cases were registered against the heads of intelligence agencies and even arrest warrants were also issued against few of them.
In the wake of an inquiry conducted by session Judge Nushki district and police reports submitted in the apex court, Chief Justice has declared that the involvement of intelligence agencies has been proved in missing persons cases and decomposed dead bodies. Police Chief Balochistan admitted in the court during the hearing that Police was unable to take action against these state agencies, saying so much so police officers have to take permission from same agencies for entry in cantonment area. Inspector General of Police has submitted a comprehensive report on the discovery of mutilitated/ decomposed bodies of missing persons in the Supreme Court. The reports states that an inquiry was conducted by police regarding discovery of mutilitated bodies. They found the involvement of FC and Secrete Intelligence Agencies in the decomposition and mutiliation of missing Baloch persons. Further more DIG Investigation Hamid Shakeel presented a video footage in the Supreme Court. In the footage FC personnels who were dressed in FC uniform picked up three persons near Provential Assembly and took them to cantonment area. After few days the mutilitated bodies of above mentioned missing persons’ were found in the western bypass Sariab Quetta, their cases were also being heared in Supreme Court.
When one Basra Bugti, a missing person who was released on the orders of supreme court appeared before the court and submitted his affidavit, saying that he remained one and half year in the illegal detention of intelligence agencies. He said that his brother Kaho Bugti and 80 others inmates were also in the detention of agencies. Despite these undeniable evidences and repeated orders of Supreme Court, the intelligence agencies are committing contempt of court by showing their defiance to court of law and not releasing the missing persons. By this defiance, the agencies in fact are disregard of court orders, flexing their muscles that they are not answerable to any authority and they will do what they want. If UN visiting mission records all these orders passed by Supreme Court of Pakistan since March, 12, 2012 till to date, the mission will get to know about the facts regarding the role of intelligence agencies in missing persons cases.
Role of Present Government:
The issue of Baloch missing persons was not also taken up with seriousness on government level as when the PPP came into power, the then Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani made public announcement that all missing persons would soon join their families. Baloch missing persons were not released but the process of arrests like abduction of political activists at the hand of intelligence agencies was put on fast pace in Balochistan. Both federal and provincial government have nothing to do with missing persons issues as they are busy in their loot and plunder of public exchequer.
The government seriousness can be gauged from the fact that not a single minister both of center and province (Balochistan) bothered ever to visit the families of missing persons sitting in protesting hunger strike camp in Karachi, Islamabad and Quetta. The families’ members of missing persons are on token hunger strike for the last 900 days in a camp set up in front of Quetta Press Club. The present governments speak the language of intelligence agencies, advocating their point of view and that is why, they have lost their credibility in the eyes of the families of missing persons.
Role of Judicial Commissions:
As soon as the first judicial commission was constituted, the bullet riddled/decomposed bodies of political workers started appearing on the streets. VBMP fully extended its cooperation with the commission despite it had no faith in it. VBMP did that to avoid any negative impression before the world community that the families of missing persons are not cooperating with the commission. A number of eye witnesses recorded their statements before the two commissions and strong evidences were submitted against the involvement of intelligence agencies in missing persons cases, but it proved futile exercise as both commissions which always spoke agencies language compiled no fruitful findings.
While the third commission headed by Justice (R) Jawaid Iqbal neither paid a single to Balochistan nor met a single member of missing persons families for a long year. After a year this commission visited Balochistan and held a press conference, advocating intelligence agencies (which is on record). The point of view of Justice Iqbal, the head of the commission created an impression that the intelligence agencies were presenting their point of view under his garb and trying to absolve themselves of the allegations for the crime they have committing in abducting Baloch youth and killing them with barbarity. How a commission is relied upon when representatives of intelligence agencies involved in the cases of missing persons are also sitting there.
Justice Jawaid made his own commission controversial with his statement that the numbers of missing persons are only 26 while contrary to that only 191 petitions are pending before supreme court of Pakistan. Apart of it, like interior Minister Rahman Malik, Justice Jawaid made a strange statement (which is also on record) that foreign agencies are whisking away Baloch youth instead of Pakistan agencies. However Chief Justice Balochistan has been declaring that undeniable evidences are before the court, proving the involvement of intelligence agencies in missing persons cases.
Due to ineffectiveness and partiality, VBMP has rejected these commissions. Apart from it, there has been trend in Pakistan that when the rulers do not want to resolve the issues, they constitute commissions.
An Appeal to the International Community:
It is an open secret that the rule of Intelligence Agencies and Army has been in Pakistan. There is no such institute or a monitoring body which could stop the ongoing atrocities and injustices or which could take substantial action against them. Now it becomes the utmost responsibility of International Community to stand up against these injustices and take a practical step.
It is another bitter reality that the Intelligence Agencies and Army are responsible for the illegal abductions and recovery of mutilitated bodies of Baloch political workers, Doctors, Lawyers, Students and Professors.
We appeal to the International Community, Journalists, Civil society and human rights organizations that they should play their vital role to force Pakistan to sign the International law of enforced disappearances.
LIST OF BALOCH MISSING PERSONS WHO WERE EXTRA JUDICIALLY KILLED BY PAKISTANI INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES/FORCES (MI, ISI & FC) DURING THEIR CUSTODY
LIST OF MISSING PERSONS YEAR BY YEAR