The Pakistani deep state has a long history of targeting journalists, civil society activists, human rights activists and political workers inside Pakistan. In recent years, one has noticed the worrying rise in targeted attacks against dissidents living abroad, for example Sajjid Hussain, a Baloch activist who lived in Sweden.
A few days ago Karima Baloch, an exiled Baloch activist living in Toronto, Canada, who went missing was found dead. While the local police are as of now referring to her death as not suspicious, a joint statement issued by Canadian civil society has demanded further investigation into her murder.
The statement is below:
Canadian Civil Society condemns the murder of Karima Baloch and Demands Further Thorough Investigation into her murder
Joint Statement of Baloch National Movement, Balochistan National Party-Canada, World Sindhi Congress-Canada, Pashtun Council Canada and PTM Committee Canada
“We, Baloch National Movement, Balochistan National Party-Canada, World Sindhi Congress-Canada, Pashtun Council Canada and PTM Committee Canada mourn the tragic death of Karima Baloch, an exiled Baloch activist living in Toronto, Canada. Karima Baloch went missing on 20th December 2020, before she was found dead on Toronto Island. Though the Toronto Police has said that the death of Karima Baloch is investigated as a non-criminal death and there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances, we believe that given the threats to her life by Pakistani authorities because of her political activism, a much thorough investigation into the murder of Karima Baloch is needed.
“Karima Baloch identified herself as a Human Rights Activist and had served as the Chairperson of Baloch Students Organisation Azad. While in Pakistan, she was a fierce voice against the militarization of Balochistan, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial murders of Baloch people. She named as one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016 by the BBC. She took refuge in Canada in 2016 fleeing the persecution by Pakistani State authorities and amidst fear for her life. During her refuge in Canada, Karima Baloch continued to raise her voice against the human rights abuses in Balochistan by the Pakistani State authorities.
“We condemn the murder of Karima Baloch and demand thorough and transparent investigation in her murder. The culprits should be exposed and brought to justice as per the laws of Canada. The murder of Karima Baloch has reminded us the cold-blooded murder of Sajid Husain, a Baloch journalist forced into exile in Sweden after covering violence, crime and a simmering insurgency in Pakistan. He was found dead on 23rd April, 2019 in north of Stockholm, after remaining missing for more than a month.
“Baloch are one of the most persecuted groups in Pakistan. Thousands of people have disappeared without trace in Balochistan since 2007. A military-led operation was launched in early 2005 aimed at wiping out the uprising by ethnic Baloch groups, who are fighting for a greater share of the province’s resources. Hundreds of Baloch political activists in order to avoid persecution escaped from Balochistan and are compelled to seek asylum in other countries. The dissidents and critics of the Pakistan authorities, who are living in exile are under constant fear with the increasing threats and attacks on them during the exile. We believe that the international community has a responsibility towards the protection of the exiled activists.
“While we take immense pride in Canada’s long record of taking courageous stance against all kinds of violations against Human Rights anywhere in the World and Canada’s image as one of the safest places for refugees and asylum seekers, any lack of a concrete action to this end might jeopardize the global image/reputation Canada has. Therefore, we urge the government of Canada to undertake immediate and thorough investigation, bring perpetrators to justice, and take just diplomatic and political course of action in cases any foreign country or group were found to be involved behind this brutal murder of this human rights activist.
Baloch National Movement
Balochistan National Party, Canada
World Sindhi Congress, Canada
Pashtun Council Canada
PTM Committee Canada”