Sunday, May 18, 2014

Demand for recovery of missing Baloch students’ leader

Hasan Mansoor

KARACHI: While Mama Qadeer’s historic long march from Quetta to Islamabad could not bring any good news to the families of the Baloch missing persons, Latif Johar, in his early 20s, whose health condition has visibly deteriorated since he went on hunger strike last month, said he would die fighting for their rights but would be remembered in some way.

Looking a pale shadow of his photograph put along with Zahid Baloch’s on a banner hung right behind him, Mr Johar — a member of the Baloch Student Organisation-Azad (BSO) — was speaking at a seminar on the kidnapping of BSO chairman Zahid Baloch against which he went on hunger strike in a camp outside the Karachi Press Club.

The seminar was organised by the Baloch Human Rights Organisation (BHRO) at the KPC’s terrace.

Wearing dark grey shalwar kameez with stubble on his face and unkempt hair, Mr Johar said: “Everyone has to die. At least, I am dying for a greater cause, but many people in the media have already died. They just move but don’t feel and think.”

He said he used to see media men running here and there covering everyone else ‘but us’.

“They don’t throw a glance at our camp either.”

“Please look at the real matters,” said Mr Johar while trying to keep his body upright despite all physical weakness.

Asad Iqbal Butt, who heads the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s Sindh chapter, said the state’s institutions were behind the continued enforced disappearances of students, political and rights activists and labour leaders.

“It was rare in the past, but now it has spread like epidemic. Conscious and politically aware people are being disappeared against the constitution of the country, which guarantees safety to all its citizens against such actions,” he said.

He said 90 per cent of the missing people belonged to Balochistan.

“People are being taken away from all the places – from their houses to public places,” he said, while demanding that the law-enforcement agencies involved in enforced disappearances be taken to the task and duly punished.

Sindhi intellectual Mumtaz Maher feared what was going on in the country gave the symptoms of fascism.

BHRO head Bibi Gul Baloch said the medical condition of the young Johar, who has not taken a morsel of food for the past 25 days, was alarmingly fragile and his life was at a serious risk.

She demanded that Zahid Baloch be brought to the public scene and tried in a court.

“No one is lending an ear to our demands. Instead, more misery is piled on us when we cry for justice. Mama Qadeer’s long march brought no smiles to the faces of any of the families of missing persons, instead the world saw mass graves in Khuzdar,” she said.

Journalists Saeed Sarbazi and Ajiz Jamali also spoke.

The children and relatives of the Baloch missing persons later presented a tableau themed on their own plight.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2014

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