In this Medya News podcast, Desmond Fernandes and Shazhavar Karimzadi discuss and detail the nature of ‘enforced disappearances’ and wider human rights violations (inclusive of ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’) in East Balochistan and Pakistan.
Fernandes is a former Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at De Montfort University in the UK, who specialises in genocide studies, human rights concerns and an examination of the manner in which ‘Othered’ communities are ‘criminalised’ by state linked mechanisms and bodies. He is the author or co-author of a number of books focusing upon genocide as well as the human rights situation in Pakistan, including ‘Education, Human Rights Violations in Pakistan and the Scandal involving UNHCR and Christian asylum seekers in Thailand’, ‘The Targeting of Minority Others in Pakistan’ and ‘The Education System in Pakistan: Discrimination and the Targeting of the Other’.
Karimzadi is a Baloch economist, human rights activist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire in England. He is the author of several books, including ‘Methodology of Deception’, ‘Dialectic of Regressive Errors’ and ‘Money and its Origins’.
According to the United Nations’ Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) an enforced disappearance is defined by three cumulative elements:
* Deprivation of liberty against the will of the person.
* Involvement of government officials, at least by acquiescence.
* Refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.
Pakistan’s ‘kill and dump’ policy – which has resulted in subjecting thousands of Baloch to ‘enforced disappearances’ – is discussed and analysed in depth, and also within the context of ‘genocide’ and ‘crimes against humanity’ related debates, where the perspectives of the Pakistan state, Pakistan’s Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti, Imran Khan (before he became Pakistan’s Prime Minister), Raphaël Lemkin (who coined the neologism ‘genocide’), Genocide Watch, Dr. Nazir Bhatti (Chief of the Pakistan Christian Congress), Zeus Hans Mendez (the centre coordinator of the Centre for Security Studies at the Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University), Hussein Haqqani (Pakistan’s ex-ambassador to the United States and author), Abdul Nawaz Bugti (an exiled Baloch journalist) and Naela Quadri Baloch (President of the World Baloch Women’s Forum) are considered.
Dr Nazir Ahmad Mir has stated that members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) “have lamented that ‘the Government of Pakistan has always treated Balochistan as a conflict zone’ from where truth does not see the light of day. The approach of the mainstream media towards the province has been abysmal as they refrain from reporting massive human rights violations for fear of reprisal. However, HRCP has reported about 47,000 Baloch who have gone missing or disappeared. According to the Hakkpan organisation, a Baloch human rights organisation, 568 persons disappeared and 241 were killed by the Pakistan security forces in 2019 alone”. The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) reportedly also “registered 667 cases of enforced disappearance and 116 of recovered mutilated bodies in 2016”.
Karimzadi also analyses the nature of ‘enforced disappearances’ within a wider historical setting, arguing that the ‘kill and dump’ and ‘enforced disappearances’ related ‘policies and practices’ of the Pakistan state are the outcome of an artificially constructed “Frankenstein state” that was created and shaped by British imperialist interests and Muslim fundamentalist ideologues who did not have the interests of the Baloch, Sindhi, Pashtun or Bengalis at heart.
Consequently, Balochistan was militarily ‘occupied’ and ‘annexed’ to Pakistan in 1948 without consulting the will of the people and overriding the declarations of Balochistan’s parliament, Karimzadi argues. The Pakistan state, one should clarify, objects to these categorisations and terms being used to describe the manner in which Balochistan was ‘integrated’ into Pakistan. Ever since the ‘occupation’, as Karimzadi describes it, the Pakistan state – to quell ‘resistance’ – has employed state terror tactics that have employed ‘enforced disappearances’.
Listeners are left to ponder the relevance or otherwise of the genocide scholars Michael McDonnell and Dirk Moses’ observations that Raphaël Lemkin, who coined the term ‘genocide’, “was effectively arguing, in his genocide definitions and formulations, that occupations and settlements conducted on [certain] terms – that is, without recognition of indigenous rights and subsequent negotiations – were bound to issue in genocide because resistance was as inevitable as its brutal suppression”.
The various initiatives of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, a movement that was set up by relatives of the ‘disappeared’ from Balochistan, are discussed within the context of Pakistan’s ongoing ‘kill and dump’ policies. As Mama Qadeer Baloch, Vice Chairman of the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons has asserted, these policies and practices continue: “The Pakistani forces see coronavirus conditions as being more suitable to whisk away people in Balochistan. Almost every family in Balochistan has at least one family member missing, including females and children. We have a list of more than 350 females and 200 infants who are victims of involuntary disappearances”.