The hunger strike no one is reporting | Lateef Johar, BSO-Azaad | Voices

Apr 2014
By TQ

On March 18th, Zahid Baloch, the chairperson of the Balochistan Student Organization-Azaad (BSO-Azaad)–an ethno-nationalist student group agitating for the separation and independence of Balochistan–was abducted at gunpoint. Banuk Karima Baloch, the 27-year old vice chairperson of the BSO-Azaad, witnessed the abduction, and has pointed the finger squarely at “Pakistan’s secret agencies and security forces.”

According to Karima, the Pakistani security agencies have systematically targeted the young members of the BSO-Azaad. Over 100 members of the organization have gone missing in the last few years, says a Quetta-based member of the BSO-Azaad. The organization, which is considered the most popular student group in Balochistan, was banned one month before the 2013 Pakistan elections. The abductions have forced the BSO-Azaad leaders and their members underground. Today, most use pseudonyms.

On April 22, 2014, BSO-Azaad member Latif Johar initiated a “hunger strike unto death”, calling for the immediate release of Zahid Baloch. His hunger strike has received scant attention in the Pakistani press. Tanqeed brings his unedited statement in “Voices”.

 

“My name is Latif Johar. I am a member of BSO-Azad’s Central Committee. I am sitting here on hunger strike unto death at Karachi Press Club since April 22 for the recovery of Chairman BSO-Azad, Zahid Baloch.

Zahid Baloch was abducted on March 18, 2014 from Quetta. I am a Baloch student and my organization has taught me humanity. Therefore, I cannot torture any human being. Though it is my right what I do to myself. I am torturing myself to draw the attention of the world, to let them know that our Chairman has been abducted by Pakistan’s secret agencies.

Hereby, I appeal to the people of the world, to all the human rights organizations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch to save Chairman BSO-Azad Zahid Baloch’s life. Furthermore, I appeal to all the student organizations, student unions, student federations to support us and help us students to save our leaders. And we appeal to the international media to give substantial coverage to our struggle as we have sit here on ‘hunger strike to death’ for the safe recovery of our leader.

I thank you all and hope that you all support us for the safe recovery of our Chairman.”

***

Zahid Baloch is not the only Baloch to have gone missing. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a lobby group of relatives to the missing, says that they have documented more than 2,825 cases, and claim that there are an additional 16,000 unregistered Baloch currently missing. The Supreme Court-established Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons is currently dealing with 1,475 cases–a portion of which are from Balochistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan says their list “exceeds 600”, though admits that the numbers might be underreported. And the Supreme Court and Balochistan High Court are currently dealing with a petitions calling for the recovery of 35, 10, 7 missing persons. Human Rights Watch, which issued a report documenting a segment of the disappearences, says that “none of the victims, their relatives, or eyewitnesses to the alleged disappearances interviewed by Human Rights Watch blamed armed Baloch groups. Most blamed Pakistan’s intelligence agencies or the paramilitary Frontier Corps.”

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3 Responses to The hunger strike no one is reporting | Lateef Johar, BSO-Azaad | Voices

  1. noore Baloch on Apr 2014 at 6:24 PM

    #SaveBSOAzadLeader

  2. TQ Chāt | # 8 | Tanqeed on Apr 2014 at 6:47 PM

    […] Hanif’s piece in The Guardian Ali Dayan Hasan’s piece in Guiernica on the attack on Raza Rumi A statement by Lateef Johar, a member of the BSO-Azaad on “a hunger strike unto death” in protest […]

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