VBMP long march: ‘Threatening calls to participants condemned

Published: February 20, 2014
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 Relatives of missing persons pass through a road during Long March rally 21/11/2013. PHOTO:PPI

Relatives of missing persons pass through a road during Long March rally 21/11/2013. PHOTO:PPI

ISLAMABAD: 

Civil society organisations and rights activists have condemned the alleged threatening calls and text messages sent to participants of the Voice of the Missing Baloch People (VBMP) long march.

Meanwhile, senators Afrasiab Khattak, Farhatullah Babar and Zahid Khan have also submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate secretariat to discuss the harassment and intimidation the marchers have been on the receiving end of.

The VBMP long march is proceeding to Islamabad to highlight the issue of missing Baloch persons.

The participants including men, women and children were allegedly stopped from entering Gujrat city by the Punjab Police on Tuesday evening, according to a statement issued by civil society activists.

Earlier, Mama Abdul Qadeer, who is heading the VBMP long-march, said he had received threatening phone calls in Wazirabad on Tuesday telling him that the marchers would not be allowed to enter Rawalpindi.

Qadeer said that he was threatened that he and his fellow marchers will be prevented from presenting their demands to the country office of the United Nations in Islamabad about human rights abuses and enforced disappearances in Balochistan.

According to media reports that quoted Qadeer, unidentified men surrounded the location in Wazirabad where the marchers were spending the night.

The marchers reached near Lala Musa by sunset on Wednesday.

Civil society organisations and rights activists said in a statement that they were seriously concerned about the news that Qadeer was receiving threatening calls.

“Civil society strongly condemns the threats and intimidation tactics from supposedly mysterious sources, the statement read.

The organisations stated the government will be held responsible if any harm was done to the marchers. They demanded security for the long march participants to ensure their safe arrival in the federal capital.

“We demand an immediate end to the threats and intimidation tactics against the VBMP as the constitutional guaranteed freedoms of expression, free speech, assembly and movement of people,” said the civil society statement.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2014.

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