“As many as 18,000 people from Balochistan are unaccounted for. More than 2,000 mutilated bodies have been found. I will provide the list of names to the United Nations officials when the caravan reaches Islamabad. We will also organise a protest and sit-in,” said Mama Qadeer on Thursday at the Punjab Union of Journalists’ office at Diyal Singh Mansion on The Mall.
Qadeer has been leading the protest and the march of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons.
“I have received my son’s body. He had been tortured. My seven-year-old grandson, present here, has been orphaned. What was his crime?” Qadeer asked. He also mentioned Qasim, a 14 year old boy from Turbat, who had disappeared a few days ago.
Qadeer thanked Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s I A Rehman, lawyer Asma Jehangir, human rights activist Bushra Khaliq and Shazia Khan, of the Awami Workers Party for their support during the march and in the missing persons’ case in the Supreme Court.
He said the former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had failed, despite best efforts, to produce missing persons in the court.
Qadeer said there had been attempts to stop the march before it entered Sindh and again when it entered the Punjab.
Farzana Majeed, a participant in the long march, said “I am the sister of a student leader, Zakir Majeed, who has been missing since June 2009.
I am thankful to those who are here in solidarity, but it pains me that there is only a few of them out of 15 million”.
She also said she saluted the women in the caravan. She said if they had committed a crime, the forcibly disappeared people should be tried in courts.
Activist Saeeda Diep said social mobilisation was lacking in Lahore.
“We are almost dead as a society. We need to stand with the oppressed and the marginalised”, she said.
Shazia Khan of the Awami Workers Party told the protesters “It is difficult to say ‘welcome to Lahore’, considering the pain that you have gone through…” Khan said it was essential for all progressive political parties to condemn the state and security forces for the torture and suppression of Baloch people.
Participants of the march called out the names of missing family members. Others chanted ‘where is justice?’ in response.
The march had started from Quetta on October 27, 2013. The first phase, a 730 kilometre walk, ended in Karachi with a demonstration in front of the Press Club on November 23. The second phase began in mid-December.
In Lahore, the families of missing persons began the march from Thokar Niaz Baig on Thursday at 9am.
They are now headed to Islamabad. They stopped at the Timber Market, Ravi Road, on Thursday and will start walking again on Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ