Pakistan disallows VBMP officials to travel abroad
By Farooq Baloch
The issue of missing persons was started reporting in 2000, in Balochistan, during the regime of Pervez Musharraf who conducted unconstitutional operations in different areas of the province. It is also believed that a large number of people mostly political workers, students, lawyers and people from grass root level have gone to missing during the military operations from different parts of the province. Many of the missing persons bullets riddled, decomposed and dumped bodies were found from various areas of the Balochistan and from Karachi the capital of the Sindh province. A large number of the people are still missing; the family members of the victims do not know about the fate of their loved ones whether they are alive or dead.
The family members of the missing persons have been managing demonstrations, protest, rallies, set up token hunger strike camp in front of Quetta press club and time to time conducting press conferences individually for the safe recovery of their loved ones since the Musharraf regime, but with each passing day the number of missing person is increasing, people are being picked up from every corner of the province. The number of missing persons has entered in thousands figure. The political parties of the largest province of Pakistan by area also claim with solid evidences that their activists are forcibly abducted in a large number.
In 2009, the relative of missing persons formed an organization Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP). It is comprised on the family members of the missing persons, whose loved ones were abducted. It is the purely non-political organization in the province and striving for the safe recovery of missing persons. The central members of the organization are follows; Nasrullah Baloch is the chairman of the organization, his uncle Ali Asghar Bangulzai was forcibly abducted on 18th October 2001, and still he is missing. The Vice Chairman of the organization is Abdul Qadeer Baloch, his son Jaleel Reki was abducted outside of his home near Girls School Kechi Baig Sariab road Quetta, on 13th February, 2009. Deceased Reki was the central secretary information of the Baloch Republican Party (BRP). After the detention of two and half years Jalil Reki’s bullet riddled with severely torture sign dead body was found from Turabt. Farzana Mjeed is the general secretary of the organization, her brother Zakir Majeed was the vice chairman of the Baloch Student Organization Azad (BSO-A). Zakir has been missing since June 2009, he was picked from Mastung district, and still the family members do not know about his fate. And further the organization VBMP has its district coordinators throughout the Balochistan to collect the data of the missing and extra judicially killed persons.
Since the formation of the organization VBMP, the activists of this have been raising voice and trying to highlight the issue of enforced disappearances, globally. After accomplishment the unbelievable historical long march, the participants of became the prominent human rights defender.
Few days back Mama Abdul Qadeer Baloch including his companions; Farzana Majeed Baloch and Faiqa were stopped by Federal Intelligence Agency (FIA) at Jinnah International Airport at Karachi, as they were about to fly to the New York city to join the World Sindhi Congress in United States of America. They were invited by the Sindh Academic and Cultural Society of North America (SACSNA) in theirs conference with agenda to highlight the violation of human rights in Balochistan and Sindh. The VBMP representatives were prevented and told by the FIA officials that, their names are on the Exit Control List (ECL), and the first investigation report (FIR) has been filed against them for involvement in anti-state activities. That is the why they cannot go to abroad.
“I along with my colleagues have met all formalities; we were having our passports and US visas including all documents about traveling to USA. Even the officials of the government have never informed us that our names are on ECL, or we are involved in anti-state activities. We have been carrying out peaceful protest for the safe recovery of our loved ones.” Said Mama Qadeer Baloch.
Farzana Majeed speaking to media men said, “I had been from Dubai last month without facing any problem. I explained before the FIA officials that I am a Baloch human rights defender but not terrorist, and this is my right to travel abroad. They did not consider all legal points.”
After this incident, Mama Qadeer in his press conference at Karachi Press club stated that the international watchdogs should take notice of Pakistani authority’s’ unfair actions; it is injustice to stop someone from going to abroad and do not let to raise the voice against the injustices and violations of human rights.
He appealed the United Nations, Amnesty international, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission and international community to take step against the involved authorities who have stopped them from joining international conference where they were invited to highlighting the issue of enforced disappearances and extra judicial killing of the missing persons in torture cells.
Here question rises, why they were disallowed to going out from the country. They have constitutionally and legally right to go anywhere. Even the incumbents of the organization VBMP along with their relatives of missing persons have been appearing before the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Balochistan High Court on each hearing day of case. They have been recording their statements before the judicial commission and inquiry committees which were formed by the judiciary, provincial and federal governments to probe into the cases of missing persons. The higher authorities of the government and others have never notified Mama Qadeer and others that their names are on ECL, they cannot go to abroad, said the family members of the missing persons.
The human rights organizations internationally and nationally slammed the illicit action of the FIA officials for not letting the well-known human rights defenders to joining the conference.
As the Front Line Defender (FLD) stated in its statement, the FLD expresses concern over the travel ban on Abdul Qadeer Baloch and they believe solely this is his peaceful and legitimate human right and has impunity to defy the enforced disappearances. Further the organization urged the authorities in Pakistan to immediately and unconditionally lift the travel ban on VBMP officials, as the organization believes that it has been imposed solely as a result of his legitimate and peaceful work in the defense of human rights. Further, in statement of the organization is stated that to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Pakistan, in particular those are working to combat enforced disappearances to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also condemned the incident which took place at the Jinnah International Airport Karachi with Mama Qadeer and his companions. In its statement stated by HRCP that they hope someone in authority or the judiciary itself would see why that was not done in this case, and the organization demand the government to probe and share with the people who ordered to be prohibited and also to expressly underline its commitment not to hamper citizen freedom of movement in future.
Recently Mama Qadeer along with his travel companions has completed the historical long march from Quetta to Karachi and Karachi to Islamabad. They have marched on long distance of 2800 km without using any sort of transportation. It took them more than 100 days, they walked with swollen feet, and the rulers of the country did not provide them medical facility, and did not expressed solidarity with the brave marchers.
The organization VBMP has been observing the token hunger strike camp in several cities of Pakistan and they have completed 1925 days of token hunger strike at established camp. The organization VBMP has taken out number of rallies and demonstrated several times against the injustices and violations of human rights in Balochistan.
Now it is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments to provide them justice, and take practical steps to recover their loved ones. The government should lift the ban traveling to abroad on the organization members and should take action against those, who stopped them at Jinnah Airport Karachi from going to the USA with purpose to join the conference of human rights.