Human Rights Violations of Baloch Minority in Pakistan

by October 20, 2018 0 comments

Just as she has responded to Pak allegations on human rights violations in Kashmir, India must raise the issue of human rights violations of the Baloch minority in Pakistan.

On October 12, 2018, the 73rd UN General Assembly (UNGA) elected 18 new Council members that will serve for a period of three years, starting January 1, 2019. India got re-elected to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which comprises of 47 elected member states. India had previously been in the UNHRC during 2011-2014 and 2014-2017. India’s last tenure ended on December 31, 2017, and in accordance with the rules, it wasn’t eligible for immediate re-election since it had already served two consecutive terms.

India got elected getting 188 votes in the Asia-Pacific category, bagging the highest number of votes among all the 18 countries in the five regional categories. The 193-member UNGA held elections for new members to the UNHRC and 18 new members were elected by an absolute majority through a secret ballot. Countries need a minimum of 97 votes to get elected to the Council.

Bangladesh, Philippines, Bahrain and Fiji were also elected to the UNHRC in the Asia Pacific category. India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin, told PTI that India’s win with the highest number of votes “reflects India’s standing in the international comity”.

The Baloch leadership congratulated India on its re-election to the UNHRC and hoped that India would speak about the human rights violations by Pakistan on the Baloch minority. The oppressed Baloch have been looking towards India after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2016 Independence day speech, where he drew attention to the grave human rights violations by Pakistan in Pakistan-occupied Jammu & Kashmir (PoJK), which is the Indian territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, occupied by Pakistan since 1947 and Balochistan. India has, however, not raised the plight of the Baloch independently at the UNHRC, the way the Palestine issue was raised in the Muslim world.

Till now, India has only responded to Pakistani claims of Indian human rights violations in Kashmir under the right of reply at UNHRC, by mentioning that the Pakistani claims on Kashmir are baseless. This has been seen in the famous issue of the photo of a Palestinian girl being passed as a Kashmiri at UN by Pakistan’s representative. India had in its right to reply arguments added that Pakistan should enforce disappearances and targeting of political dissidents in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is probably time that human rights violations on the Baloch minority, caught between Pakistan and China, are raised independently and prominently by India.

Given that Indian media is free, the Government cannot ask it to cover Baloch human rights issue the way All India Radio or Doordarshan do. However, at times, the Foreign Ministry could in its weekly briefings react to urgent developments. One such example was two months after the speech by Prime Minister Modi. There were weeks-long intense military operations against civilians — houses of the whole village were burnt down in ‘collective punishment’ — the way the British used to in the Pashtun areas under its occupation. At that point, certain Baloch leaders and activists expressed sadness at Indian media not responding to their pleas to cover the news of the ongoing brutal repression.

Baloch leader Mehran Marri said: “We hope it (India) will speak out against the atrocities being carried out by the Pakistan military to carry out ethnic cleansing of us from our land and hand over our resources to China as Beijing builds its noose around Islamabad to control the country as its de facto ruler. The Baloch would like New Delhi to play its historic role in the region the way it did when China invaded Tibet and when Pakistan carried out a genocide in Bangladesh.”

Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, leader of the Baloch National Movement in North America, said, “India must support Baloch national struggle and as a neighbour we have lot of expectations from the Indian Government to support our national struggle. We, the Baloch, are struggling against terrorism and for our own land.”

Hafeez Hassanabadi, senior leader of the Hyrbyair Marri-led Free Balochistan Movement (FBM), who also served as Pakistan’s Minister of State for Defence in the 1950s, said, “For the last 15 years in an unending and relentless military operation (since Musharraf killed Nawab Akbar Bugti, former Governor of Balochistan Province in Pakistan), thousands of people have been victims of enforced disappearances, numerous villages have been burned down and numerous people have been ‘killed and dumped’ on the roads, in open fields and in deserted, desolate areas. The Baloch look towards India as a regional power, who would use its mandate at the UNHRC to highlight the realities of brutal human rights violations of the Baloch population by Pakistan.”

Noted Baloch Human Rights Lawyer Kachkol Ali, who has been a speaker, former Minister and Opposition leader in Balochistan provincial Assembly of Pakistan also averred, “While it is the obligation of the UN and civilised countries to initiate appropriate action in a country where the following unimaginable atrocities — namely crimes against humanity, genocide, ethnic cleansing and war crimes — are being committed, it is regrettable that the aforesaid element of international crimes are being severely committed by Pakistani security forces and the international community and the UN are silent.”

To me, the principle of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is not being complied with given the atrocities against the innocent Baloch population by the security forces in Pakistan. Their miserable behaviour is questionable in light of R2P as well as international humanitarian law which dictate that it is the responsibility of the civilised world to intervene in an altruistic manner without any consideration to end impunity against any nation. Pakistan has been committing genocide, ethnic cleansing, crime against humanity and war crime but the world is silent and they are vicariously guilty of self-seeking apathy and of culpability by their silence. To quote Bernard Shaw: “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: That’s the essence of inhumanity.” (The Devil’s Disciple, Act 11)

In the same vein of Kenyan judge said, “If leaders of a state, who normally have the duty to uphold the rule of law and to respect human rights, engage in a policy of violent attacks against a civilian population, it is the community of states which must intervene and prevent, control and repress this threat to the peace, security and well-being of the world.”

The aforesaid observations hold good for Balochistan, especially Gwadar, where security forces of Pakistan with support from China are slaughtering Baloch indigenous people and their homes and cottages are being mercilessly incinerated in the vicinity of the CPEC project.

They have been unjustifiably and forcibly deported and transferred from their villages and towns. These atrocities of Pakistan and China constitute the elements of the atrocities of genocide and crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.

Writer: Pioneer

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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