Over the past few days, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons have been protesting in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. The VBMP is a collective of families of Baloch who have been abducted over the past many years. There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistani security forces – the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies – are behind industrial-scale enforced disappearance, running into the thousands.
The disappearances began after George W Bush first demanded the military regime of Pervez Musharraf to deliver suspect militants. Since then, the Pakistani military state expanded disappearances, targeting especially critics of military violence, especially from Pakistan’s racialised and marginalised groups, including Baloch, Pashtuns, Sindhis as well as members of various political groups. Enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s southern province of Balochistan increased after a 2014 investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, eerily mirroring the violence perpetrated by China against Uighurs in “Xinjiang.”
The geographies of military and police violence against Baloch extends well beyond Pakistan. In Iran too the Baloch community has been a persistent victim of extrajudicial killings, executions and forced disappearances. In recent months the Iranian state has intensified this campaign and since mid December 2020 at least 24 Baloch prisoners have been executed. Several Baloch prisoners are currently in death row and remain in imminent danger of execution despite statements by the UN and Amnesty International. The recent rise in executions led to the popular social media campaign #StopBalochsExecution.
At the Global Prison Abolitionist Coalition we stand in solidarity with the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons as well as the many other movements against enforced disappearances in Pakistan, like the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, the Missing Persons of Sindh and Defence for Human Rights.