If you are involved in activism in Pakistan, there is always the constant fear that a person may be abducted and added to the ever increasing list of “enforced disappearances” and bodies bearing torture marks that turn up day after day.
Back in August a very concerned mother Zubeida Panhwar addressed journalists at Hyderabad Press Club to highlight that her son Asif Panhwar was missing, believed to have been abducted and was very worried that his life would be in danger.
Asif was known to be involved in Jeay Sindh Student Federation (JSSF) the student wing of Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) a separatist political party in Sindh that believes in the freedom of Sindudesh from Pakistan. The group was added to list of banned “terrorist” organizations by the Pakistan government on 1st April 2013 which led to a ban. Campaigners insist Asif was a non-violent activist, a student who simply wanted a brighter future for Sindh.
Asif was picked up at the residence of advocate Ameer Hassan Panhwar near Naseem Nagar Chowk in Qasimabad on Aug 15 2014 allegedly by personnel of police and agency officials dressed in plain clothes. JSMM and JSSF have since held protests in Badin and Mirpurkhas against the enforced disappearance of their fellow activists from across the province. Sadly to no avail, he lifeless body of Asif has now been found, another life taken, another heartbroken mother.
A message displayed on the Facebook page of JSMM stated,
“martyr Asif Panhwar was a student of I.T. Department of University Of Sindh Jamshoro. He was abducted from University 100 days ago. His crime was that he had demanded the freedom of his country, Sindh. A historical country which was occupied by Pakistan through British strategy. Sindhi from the whole world must have to unite to make free Sindh from the chains of Pakistan, otherwise Sindhi would be killed continuously”
Asif Panhwar – how many more dead bodies?
The killings appear to be fuelling unrest, as one activist wrote, “heavy clashes started between students and forces in Sindh university after killing of JSMM’S Asif Panhwar. Sindh university Medan Jang, 100 Students Zakhmi, Students Mathan Rangers, JI firing, Tear gas.”
Demonstrators take to the streets
Back in 2012, Dr Noam Chomsky, a world renowned linguist met with Sindhi activists and wrote a letter expressing his concern over enforced disappearances. He stated,
“I recently met with Sufi Laghari who is a human rights activist. During our meeting he brought to my attention the violence and enforced disappearances that occur in the Sindh and Baloch provinces. These disappearances are a gross human rights violation against the people. A statement issued on October the 13th 2011 by the Asian Human Rights Commission reports that 206 disappeared persons have been extra-judicially killed in Balochistan during the preceding 15 months. Such violence is disturbing and must be brought to an end.”
Chomsky went on to highlight the case of Muzzafar Bhutto who had allegedly disappeared on 25th February 2011 after previously being abducted and tortured between 2006 and 2009. (He later died of his injuries during the second period of detention). Paryal Shah was another JSMM activist whose bullet-ridden body was found dumped at the roadside.
The full Chomsky letter can be read on the following link,
Shoukat Zardari, a broadcast journalist and blogger also drew attention to yet another killing. He tweeted, “bullet riddled body of nationalist worker Waheed lashari found from Karachi. He went missing 35 days Ago from Warah Sindh.” Zardari also penned a very strong “open letter” to ISI Chief Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar in the Indus Tribune, (Voice of Oppressed Nation) slating the ISI and alleging the security services may be responsible for abductions. He appeals to the ISI to work within the law and Constitution and help the families of the disappeared stating,
“I am sorry to say as a Sindhi I am already mourning the deaths of many youngsters allegedly killed by ISI but please instead of making things worst try to answer the families of murdered youngsters. Never think you and your organization is above the law. if you can not be asked here then definitely you will asked by Allah who in Quran says “Killing one innocent human is equal to murdering the whole Humanity.” We are still soft on Pakistan army and atrocities of your officials and we still want you to find a proper and constitutional way to bring anybody to justice who you think is anti Pakistan. If you will keep rewarding people with dead bodies than don’t forget what India did to us in 1971.”
Complete letter can be read here,
Another body that of abducted Sindhi activist Waheed Lashari has just been recovered from Karachi.
The faces of the disappeared seem to be getting younger. The boyish face of Kamlesh Sindhi appears on a poster once again alleging security service involvement.
Kamlesh Sindhi who was also abducted is still missing at the time of writing.
Amina Masood Janjua DHR (Defence of Human Rights and Public Service Trust) runs what is described as “one of the few human rights activist organizations founded by the victims of the violation of human rights. The organization is registered under Trust Act 1882 of Pakistan. It was founded by Mrs Amina Masood Janjua after the abduction of her husband Mr Masood Janjua on 30th July 2005.” She supports families and helps them file First Investigation reports (FIRs) with police to help locate loved ones though many are afraid even to take this step in case of retaliation. It was Amina who was waiting with her supporters to meet those who participated in the “Long March” earlier this year to highlight the disappeared of Balochistan. Baloch activists marched again last week-end to highlight female activists that had gone missing.
Champion of the disappeared Mrs Amina Masood Janjua (left) and Baloch women activists (right)
Details of DHR can be found on the following website,
The determined wife and mother bravely fights on, trying to obtain justice through the courts with some successes. In the case of those detained at detention centres such as the notorious Kohat centre, the following now applies,
“The families were given the option to file an FIR at the relevant police station if they suspected the involvement of a particular person(s) in the death of a detainee.
The division bench also directed that families be allowed to meet loved ones detained in Kohat whenever they file an application for visitation. It also said the inmates should be given proper health facilities”
Mrs Janjua hammers the message home for fair and lawful treatment of detainees and repeatedly reminds the world of the following,
“It is obligatory to observe law of the land, constitutional and fundamental human rights as guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan. Rule of law respected and supremacy of constitution should be established by the Government.”
“Karachi: Families take to the streets to protest abduction of Baloch women”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.