The Long March, a mass action organised by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, has been taking place in Pakistan for over 40 days, demanding an end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan.
Baloch people in Pakistan have been highlighting the historical involvement of Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies in human rights violations against the Baloch community over the past seventy-five years.
The Baloch community has faced arrest, harassment and threats during their mass actions to peacefully promote their cause. In response, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee has announced the plan for the third phase of their movement. They will continue their sit-in at the Islamabad Press Club, organise protests, strikes and sit-ins across Pakistan and hold online conferences to inform the international community. If the state’s behaviour continues, the group plans to move their sit-in to the United Nations office in Islamabad to seek protection.
“Violence, arrests, threats and harassment will not deter us under any circumstances. We appeal to the international community to raise global awareness about the Baloch genocide and human rights violations in Balochistan. We seek support for our long march and demand protection,” they said in a recent statement.
In an exclusive podcast interview with Erem Kansoy, Dr Marhang Baloch, a prominent activist and leader of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee in Pakistan, gave a compelling account of the harrowing situation in Balochistan and called for urgent international support against what she called the systematic genocide of the Baloch people.
Here are the highlights:
Could you please introduce yourself and give us some more information about the movement that you are in?
My name is Dr Marhang Baloch and I am a victim of state atrocities. I am leading a movement against Baloch genocide and am the organiser of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee, a movement that has been organised by the Baloch youth and our aim and what we are doing today is the long march that we have led. This long march comes after the extrajudicial killings of Baloch youth. First of all, they were abducted by the CTD, counter terrorism department of police, and then they were presented in the court. During custody they were killed and CTD have claimed that they have killed them in an ambush. So, it’s been usual for us in Balochistan. What is unusual for the world has been usual for us in Balochistan. Thousands of Baloch missing persons have been killed by the state forces and the families who have been waiting for their loved ones have been gifted their dead bodies.
What exactly does the Balochistan people demand?
The Balochistan people demand their own identity, their land, and the end of the genocide that has been happening for the last seven decades. None of our generations have lived in peace and there are multiple cases, and even though this is the fifth insurgency of Balochistan. And we demand our own land, our own peace and the end of the genocide, the end of the killings, the end of the exploitation of our resources, the end of cultural invasion that has been happening for decades in our land. The Baloch people have lost the right to live.
There is no economic stability in Balochistan, no one is safe and secure living here, Balochistan has been treated like a colony, every 5km there is a checkpoint and the army officials there are harassing people, attacking people, involving in killings of innocent Balochs. The women and children are not spared. There are multiple cases in the drastic changes from the last two decades where the state has sponsored the local youth, have given them arms and ammunition, they call them death squads. They are free to kill easily, they have the power of the state, they have guns and they have been involved in the killings of innocent Baloch people.
So Europe and the European Union always talk about human rights and democracy but when it comes to Balochistan they are keeping silent. So, what is your call to the European Union to take action against Pakistani violence on Baloch people?
Actually the main focus of our movement, the first demand of our movement was a UN fact finding committee against the human rights violations, they must come to Balochistan, they must take notice of human rights violations. What we are saying, that a state is involved in the systemic genocide, also has been supported by all the world. Human rights are just slogans. Our people are butchered, are people are mutilated. But none of them speak for us.
As you know, the Kurdish women’s movement is one of the biggest supporters of the Baloch community. The Kurdish women’s movement has recently officially announced the support to the Baloch women with a joint statement and they said ‘we embrace the struggle of Baloch women’. So do you have any call for the Kurdish women’s movement as well?
As Baloch women activist, as a nation, we have been analysing the Kurdish women’s movement and also we link ourselves to the Kurdish national movement, so I really am thankful to them. The solidarity that we are seeing is beyond the national solidarity and I want them to be part of this and this march is led by women and for what we see in the future, strong solidarity and a voice for the Baloch people, a voice against the Baloch genocide. And on behalf of my nation I thank you, I thank the Kurdish women’s movement, for considering this issue and for supporting the Baloch cause.
About Jin Jiyan Azadi, Woman Life Freedom… As you know the Kurdish women’s movement has made the Jin Jiyan Azadi into a global rising. Do you agree with the slogan which also rose up the women in Iran and in the middle east as well? So you are rising up now in your country, so would you support the Woman Life Freedom perspective?
Yes we support the Woman Life Freedom global movement. We have the same cause as Jin Jiyan Azadi. We as the Baloch women support the global women’s rise of Jin Jiyan Azadi as all women are considered an equal part of society and they have the full rights of life and freedom.
We in Balochistan have considered that Baloch women feel the state oppression more than men, because what they’re suffering is never being discussed and what we are seeing is a collective punishment. What we are facing is also a big part of the women rising. Baloch women have a special role in this moment.
How can the European community support you, especially the Kurdish people, what they can do for you right now?
Right now we need support from all over the world, what we are seeking, is you can inform your human rights organisation and you can also write to Pakistan. And you can compel Pakistan to sign the enforced disappearances bill that they haven’t signed yet, to end the genocide, to end the exploitation of Baloch resources and also to consider Baloch as a nation that has been facing genocide for decades.
It’s not an internal issue of Pakistan. It has never been because what Pakistan is doing in Balochistan is not an internal issue, it is genocide. So they can file a petition, the European Union can compel Pakistan to end their war crimes in Balochistan, to end their colonial behaviour which my people have been suffering for decades. They have no right to freedom of speech, they have no right to live. We are suffocating and all of the world is still chanting the slogans of human rights.
Anything else you would like to say to the world?
As we all know, the media has been controlled by the global powers, and what’s happening in the world, I can see that the world is being divided so that the oppressed nations couldn’t come together and the solidarity which we are expecting and which we need has been broken. So our message to all of the world, to all of the oppressed nations is that we must stay together and we must keep raising our voices for all of the oppressed nations, all of the oppressed people who have been facing this all alone. We must give our voices to them and what we are asking to the world is to support our movement and to raise its voice against the Baloch genocide.