Quetta: Abdul Qadeer Baloch who became the face of human rights struggle in the case of missing Baloch persons, leading a 2000 kilometer protest walk from Quetta to Islamabad last year, says he was stopped from traveling abroad because the authorities didn’t want their voice to be heard globally.
The human rights activist and Vice Chairperson of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) Abdul Qadeer, known as Mama (maternal uncle) Qadeer Baloch, and secretary general of VBMP, Farzana Majeed were stopped at Jinnah International Airport Karachi on March 5 when they were leaving for New York.
According to the officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), their names were on the Exit control list.
According to Mama Qadeer, he had received a formal invitation letter from the Sindhi Academic and Culture Organization to a conference in New York on the violation human rights and missing persons in Sindh and Balochistan.
In 2014, Mama Qadeer and the 11 year old Haider Baloch led right activists and family members of Baloch mission persons from to Islamabad, walking all the way on foot from Quetta to Islamabad. Mama Qadeer, whose son was among the list of missing Baloch persons later his dead body was found, he says he is peacefully keeping up the “torch to search of missing youths like his son.”
“On behalf of the Voice for the Baloch Missing Persons, I and Farzana Majeed Baloch had received a five year multiple entry visa from the US embassy,” Mama Qadeer, 80, told News Lens Pakistan via Phone while demonstrating in front of Karachi Press Club. “We were scheduled to return on March 20th. We had our return tickets.”
Said Farzana Majeed: “I went through the same airport to United Arab Emirates a month ago. I was not stopped by the airport officials. I don’t know why they (the security agencies) stopped us now. It is probably because we are speaking on every possible platform for our loved ones to be returned to us.”
Farzana told News Lens Pakistan: “If my brother was not missing, I wouldn’t have taken on to road. My mother lost her sight after my brother Zakir Majeed Baloch went missing six years ago.”
Mama Qadeer’s son was picked in 2009, his dead body found in 2011. Farzana Majeed’s brother Zakir Majeed has been missing since 2009.
Farzana Majeed said they have been struggling peacefully for years. “We are not involved in any politics, we not part of a political organization. We only want our loved ones back.”
She said Faiqa Baloch, 22, who was part of the delegation was not allowed to go even though her name was not on the ECL.
According to Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, 18000 Baloch are missing, 1600 of whom have been killed and dumped.
“No citizen can be put on the Exit Control List until unless there’s a specific order regarding his or her role in illegal activities and proven guilty,” said Baz Muhammad Kakar, senior lawyer and former-president of Balochistan Bar Association. “No one can put citizens on the ECL for peaceful struggle for human rights. Whether it is Mama Qadeer Baloch or anyone else, no one can stop their movement.”
“My brother Zakir Baloch is in custody for the last six years without any proof of crime,” said Farzana. “Isn’t this a violation of human rights? Why would the U.S. government give visa to a criminal or terrorist – look at Mama Qadeer who is 80 years old. He’s not capable of committing any of terror act. Why is he stopped from going abroad?”
Mama Qadeer Baloch told News Lens that he’ll file a petition against the fake FIR against him in the Supreme Court and the hurdles in his way to seek release of the Baloch missing persons. “We [Voice of the Baloch Missing Persons] would keep up the struggle till the release of missing persons.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the denial of foreign travel to the three Baloch human rights activists.
The HRCP statement states: “HRCP is alarmed and greatly dismayed by the FIA authorities barring Mama Qadeer and two other Baloch human rights activists from traveling abroad when they were about to board a US-bound flight to attend a seminar on alleged violation of rights in Sindh and Balochistan. Also, in this day and age, it is ridiculous to try and prevent someone’s point of view from being heard simply by denying them to leave their country.”
“Mama Qadeer Baloch is neither wanted, nor has he committed any crime,” the Awami National Party (Wali) Central Secretary General Aurangzaib Kasi told News Lens Pakistan.
Dr Said Alam Mehsud who is associated with the Pakhtun Ulasi Tehreek condemned the move not to allow Mama Qadeer Baloch and Farzana Majeed Baloch travel abroad. “I call on the authorities to let Mama and his colleagues go abroad as they don’t have any allegations or cases registered against them. Mama Qadeer Baloch must be allowed to go anywhere he feels like.”