Disappearance & killing of Sindhi nationalists creating space for militants

Torture Victim Sarwech Pirzado (Credit: iaojwordpress.com)
Torture Victim Sarwech Pirzado (Credit: iaojwordpress.com)
PAKISTAN, Dec 3 : Disappearances and extra judicial killings of Sindhi nationalists continues unabated; in many cases disappearances have occurred following arrest by the police and at times by plain clothed persons, presumably from intelligence agencies; thereafter being taken into custody, most often tortured and ultimately their bodies are found dumped on the streets.

In the Sindh Province, the security forces have made secular and nationalist forces and activists their main target, in order to keep them in illegal detention centres, torture them and thereafter are extra judicially executed in an effort to eliminate any evidence of the disappearances. During the year 2014, more than 100 activists from nationalist groups particularly from the group ‘Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz’ (JSMM), a banned organisation, have been arrested and are missing. On the other hand all the banned Muslim militant groups have made the Sindh Province their safe haven and hiding place.

Accusations are levelled by the nationalist groups that security forces are targeting nationalist forces to provide a space for religious militant groups and the Taliban, similar to what took place in the Baluchistan Province – where today as a result, the sectarian and militant groups are operating freely and every year they are involved in killing more than 1,000 persons in such sectarian violence.

In Sindh, the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) is the worst victim of the intelligence agencies in this regard. Although the members of the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM), one of the major Sindhi nationalist parties, Jeay Sindh Tehrik (JST) and other parties have been facing no different situation, it’s worse for JSMM because they, unlike the other parties, openly support an armed movement for the freedom of Sindh.

On 15th August 2014, Mr. Asif Panhwar was arrested in a police raid at his friend’s house in Nasim Nagar, Hyderabad, in the Sindh Province and since then he has been missing. After 100 days of his disappearance his bullet riddled and torture marked body was found on the 25th of November this year. Asif Panhwar was a local leader of a banned secular nationalist organisation, the ‘Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz’ (JSMM). Following his arrest and disappearance his brother filed a petition in the Sindh High Court for his recovery. As is the usual practice, the Sindh High Court did nothing, despite the appeals by his brother that Asif Panhwar might be killed in detention by the security agencies.

In another such incident on 15th October 2014, Paryal Shah, an activist of the JSMM was abducted by the Pakistan security agencies and since then he has been missing. His mutilated body was later found on 7th November 2014 with clearly visible marks of torture. His body was dumped near the city of Rahim Yar Khan in the Punjab Province where military is operating torture cells in their Cantonment area. Shah hosted the Baloch long march last year for the recovery of Baloch missing persons. Victim’s brother, Zamin Shah was also killed by the armed forces in fake encounter.

The bullet ridden body of Mr. Abdul Waheed Lashari, 37 years old, was found after his disappearance after 15 days after being arrested in the first week of November 2014 while he was travelling in a passenger bus. Mr. Lashari was affiliated with the Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) Arisar group.

On 25th November 2014, a third-year student of Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, in the Sindh Province went missing from the Sindh University Housing Society, Jamshoro. Mr. Kamlesh Kumar was standing at a photocopy shop when two police mobile vans and a car approached them and dragged him in a police van. His only alleged crime was that he belongs to the Hindu community and he was participating in the protests against the persecution of religious minority groups. He was not affiliated with any political group. The family searched for Kamlesh at the police stations in Jamshoro and Hyderabad and to no avail.

Many such activists who stand up against the kidnapping of Hindu victims often go missing in the Sindh Province. The Chairman of Sindh Human Rights Organization (SHRO), Fayaz Shaikh was abducted from the city of Karachi. He has been organizing demonstrations on behalf of several Hindu girls who have been kidnapped in Pakistan. He has been abducted by unknown persons on 24th November 2014. His disappearance came on the eve of yet another demonstration he was supposed to organize under the auspices of the Sindh Human Rights Organization on behalf of the nine Hindu girls kidnapped by the Islamic seminaries in the Sindh Province. This is ironic since he was a leading voice who began a campaign to approach the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to take notice of the enforced disappearances of young Sindh activists and to call for an end to all such kidnappings and abductions of minorities and human rights activists there.

Another activist Mr. Rohel Laghari, 22 years old also belonging to the JSMM was abducted on the 1st April 2014 from Hyderabad and his whereabouts too are todate unknown.

Mr. Sarvech Pirzado who was yet another activist belonging to the group JSMM and an employee of a private medical company was abducted from the impress market in Karachi on 12th September 2014 by plain clothed persons and was later hurled into a four wheel type jeep. His family has filed a petition before the Sindh High Court for his recovery but as in all the other instances, to date no decision has been taken by the Court.

On October 11, the bullet riddled body of an activist of JSMM, Mr. Shakeel Konhari, was found dumped near the Malir Military Cantonment, Karachi. He was arrested from his house by the unknown persons.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the Government of Pakistan to stop the persecution of the Sindhi nationalists and halt once and for all these illegal and unconstitutional methods of enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings in Pakistan. If the law enforcement agencies have the evidences against the suspects and if there are criminal charges against them the government must bring them before the civil courts of law and tried.

The AHRC also urges the government to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and implement its provisions in law, policy and practice, and in particular include a new and separate crime of enforced disappearances in the penal code, as the government has already pledged before the United Nations visiting team, the working group of enforced and involuntary disappearances in 2012.

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