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PAKISTAN: For the arrest of one guerilla leader, military units kill more than fifty innocent citizens, including women and children

January 1, 2013

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-001-2013

01 January 2013

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PAKISTAN: For the arrest of one guerilla leader, military units kill more than fifty innocent citizens, including women and children

ISSUES: Massacre; disappearance; torture; displacement; military action
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information that military units have bombarded more than a dozen villages in three districts of Balochistan based on information about the presence of a guerilla fighter fighting for the independence of Balochistan. Independent sources claim that more than 50 persons, including women and children, were killed. In just one district, more than 32 villagers were killed and many persons were displaced as their houses were completely destroyed. The military and one of its units, the Frontier Corp (FC), have arrested many persons for interrogation to try to learn the whereabouts of the guerrilla leader, Dr. Allah Nazar, and shifted them to unknown places. Units have made torture cells in the affected areas and within two days the mutilated bodies of two persons were found, bearing marks of torture. The children and mother of Dr. Allah Nazar were also badly injured during the military action.

Please sign the following urgent appeal to stop the military action against innocent villagers in Balochistan, who are also suffering under severely cold temperatures. The AHRC will also send copies of the urgent appeals to the different Special Rapporteurs of the UN and different international organizations to raise the issue at the international level.

CASE NARRATIVE:

In the middle of the night of Dec 24-25, more than 12 gunship helicopters started shelling on Mehi village, in the area of Mashkay in Awaran district, Balochistan. About 100 homes were destroyed. Another village, Gajli, was bombarded by jets on Dec. 26 and around 90 homes were destroyed. 32 civilians were reported to have been killed but available data is insufficient because the Pakistan army is not letting anyone leave or enter the area. The military action was taken on information about a guerrilla fighter, Dr. Allah Nazar, and his associates hiding at his house.

The villagers, including injured women and children, have taken shelter in a school building without food or medicine. The army is conducting torture and killing people on the roads of Mashkay and in Gajjar bazaar, in an effort to get information about the Baloch freedom fighters. The reports of bombardment on Tank in Mashkay district say they continued for more than two days. A group of doctors were harassed and sent back by the military and FC units, who volunteered to treat the injured from the bomb attacks. In the village of Jabri in Mashkay, the army broke into three shops and looted everything. According to the information gathered by websites from an exiled Baloch organization, the military units looted homes, burning many of them, and established torture cells in Parpuki, Nokjo, Shairgi, Lakhi, and Manguli villages of Mashkay. Hundreds of the civilians who were arrested during the last three days are missing. Two of them have been thrown back as mutilated bodies. One is named Arz Mohammad, and the other’s name is still unknown. Jets and helicopters are still roaring in Mashkay’s sky.

The military action has also been extended to two more districts, the Makran and Panjur areas, and many villages are also under siege by military units, who do not allow the villagers to leave their villages. The house to house searches are continuing and people are without food or water. In these villages, military action was carried out with the help of aircraft and aerial bombing and a fleet of 70 army trucks. The villagers of Balochistan have to carry water from the rivers, which they carry for almost three to four kilometers. Peaceful protests continue in different cities of Balochistan, including shutter down and wheel jam strikes.

Here is a list of some of the persons killed, including women and children;Mir Saho s/o Mir Rahmat, 2. Khuda Bakhsh s/o Noor Mohammad, 3. Jamil Baloch, 4. Ali jan s/o Mir Saho, 5. Khair Bibi (70 years), 6. Lal Bibi w/o Dinar, 7. Nazal d/o Dinar, 8. Halima w/o Kadok, 9. Ganj Khatoon w/o Ali jan, 10. Sad Ganj w/o Mir Saho, 11. Sakhi dad (2 year old boy), 12. Labo (1 year old girl), 13. Bakhshi (4 yr boy), 14. Mahnaz / Noor Mohammad, 15. Gul bibi, 16. Sara d/o Ali jan, 17. Sher jan, 18. Karim jan, 19. Bakhsha, 20. Unrecognized boy, 21. Unrecognized boy. Moreover, Mr. Arz Mohammad was tortured to death along with another unknown person in military custody.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the following authorities calling on them to stop the military action in three different districts of Balochistan. Please urge them to withdraw the siege of villages under the control of different units of the army, hand over the bodies of the those villagers who were killed during the aerial bombardments and land actions to the bereaved families, release the persons arrested by the military units, pay compensation for the houses affected by bombardment, provide the best medical treatment to the injured persons and make quick arrangements for the provision of food and water to the affected villages.

Please also urge them to conduct a judicial inquiry and prosecute the military personnel who were involved in the killings.

The AHRC also writes a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteurs Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions calling for their intervention into this matter.

To support this appeal, please click here: 

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

PAKISTAN: For the arrest of one guerilla leader military units kill more than fifty innocent citizens including women and children

Name of victim:
1. The villagers of Tank, Jabri Parpuki, Nokjo, Shairgi, Lakhi, and Manguli villages of Mashkay
2. The several villagers of Makran and Panjgur
Alleged perpetrators: The Units of FC and Military
Date of incident: Midnight on December 24, 2012
Place of incident: Villages in Mashkay, Awaran district, Makran district and Panjgur district

I am writing to voice my deep concern about the military action in three different districts of Balochistan.

I am shocked to know that in the middle of the night of Dec 24-25, more than 12 gunship helicopters started shelling on Mehi village, in the area of Mashkay in Awaran district, Balochistan. About 100 homes were destroyed. Another village, Gajli, was bombarded by jets on Dec. 26 and around 90 homes were destroyed. 32 civilians were reported to have been killed but available data is insufficient because the Pakistan army is not letting anyone leave or enter the area. The military action was taken on information about a guerrilla fighter, Dr. Allah Nazar, and his associates hiding at his house.

The information received by me is very distressing, that the villagers, including injured women and children, have taken shelter in a school building without food or medicine. The army is conducting torture and killing people on the roads of Mashkay and in Gajjar bazaar, in an effort to get information about the Baloch freedom fighters. The reports of bombardment on Tank in Mashkay district say they continued for more than two days. A group of doctors were harassed and sent back by the military and FC units, who volunteered to treat the injured from the bomb attacks. In the village of Jabri in Mashkay, the army broke into three shops and looted everything. According to the information gathered by websites from an exiled Baloch organization, the military units looted homes, burning many of them, and established torture cells in Parpuki, Nokjo, Shairgi, Lakhi, and Manguli villages of Mashkay. Hundreds of the civilians who were arrested during the last three days are missing. Two of them have been thrown back as mutilated bodies. One is named Arz Mohammad, and the other’s name is still unknown. Jets and helicopters are still roaring in Mashkay’s sky.

Further, the military action has also been extended to two more districts, the Makran and Panjgur areas, and many villages are also under siege by military units, who do not allow the villagers to leave their villages. The house to house searches are continuing and people are without food or water. In these villages, military action was carried out with the help of aircraft and aerial bombing and a fleet of 70 army trucks. The villagers of Balochistan have to carry water from the rivers, which they carry for almost three to four kilometers.

Peaceful protests continue in different cities of Balochistan, including shutter down and wheel jam strikes.

I therefore urge you to:
Stop the military action in three different districts of Balochistan;
Withdraw the siege of villages under the control of different units of the army;
Hand over the bodies of the those villagers who were killed during the aerial bombardments and land actions to the bereaved families, release the persons arrested by the military units;
Pay compensation for the houses affected by bombardment;
Provide the best medical treatment to the injured persons and make quick arrangements for the provision of food and water to the affected villages;

Also conduct a judicial inquiry and prosecute the military personnel who were involved in the killings.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 51 9204801/9214171
Fax: +92 51 9207458
Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

2. Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf
Prime Minister
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

3. Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

4. Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

5. Nawab Aslam Raisani
Chief Minister of Balochistan
Chief Minister House, Quetta
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 81 920 2240
Tel: +92 81 449582 / 440661
E-mail: mirlashkari@yahoo.com

6. Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi
Governor of Balochistan
Governor House Balochistan,
Quetta- Balochistan province,
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 81 920 2992

7. Chief Secretary
Government of Balochistan
Quetta, Balochistan province
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 81 9202132
Email: chiefsecy@balochistan.gov.pk


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.