Washington, D.C. (Staff Report), October 19, 2017. The Sindhi Foundation held a press conference on Wednesday, the 18th of October to discuss the current state of affairs in Sindh Province of Pakistan, especially in regard to enforced disappearances of scores of human rights activists including the well-known leader of the Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, Punhal Sario. Enforced disappearances continue to be a significant problem is the province with over 300 people being disappeared per year. The Sindhi foundation and several other organizations who participated in the conference are dedicated to ensuring that these enforced disappearances cease and all people are able to return home.
Two US Congressmen Mr. Brad Sherman and Mr. Adam Schiff, both members of Congressional Caucus on Sindh sent their statements in which they addressed their concerns about the human rights abuses occurring in Sindh Province.
“Human rights abuses of this type cannot go unanswered. It is our obligation to speak out and demand accountability. These disappearances and other violations of human rights should be a major topic of conversation in all bilateral discussions between our government and the government in Islamabad.” Said, Rep. Sherman.
Rep. Schiff said, “I fully support your efforts to call attention to these abuses and to demand that they end. I urge Prime Minister Abbasi to provide information on the whereabouts of Mr. Punhal Sario and other disappeared activists, and ensure their immediate release.”
The executive director of TASSC (Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition) Léonce Byimana also spoke and condemned the abduction, torture, and killing of many writers, students, and political activists in Pakistan. Mr. Byimana took the opportunity to call upon the United States government as well as other international rights groups to denounce the egregious human rights abuses taking place in Pakistan and take a stand together against repressive regimes worldwide.
Mr. Hajan Kalhoro, of the World Sindhi Congress, another advocacy group campaigning for the release of the Missing Persons in Sindh, said that “Pakistani security agencies are responsible for these abductions, torture, and killings in Sindh as well as Balochistan.” He further clarified that the “The security agencies’ modus-operandi is to abduct, torture, and hold activists incommunicado for as long as they see fit. Later, activists are either killed and dumped on the roadside or released after they have been physically and psychologically traumatized.” Mr. Kalhoro implored the government of Pakistan to end human rights abuses against activists, and urging the United States government to stand up and “become the voice of the marginalized Sindhi people whose voice for their democratic, historical, and human rights are being ruthlessly silenced.”
Mr. Hasan Mujtaba, a writer, and poet presented an exquisite poem in Urdu expressing the pain and suffering that enforced disappearances cause. Mr. Marvin Kumetut, from the Underrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), made remarks about enforced disappearances in Pakistan. In his speech, Mr. Kumetut said, “Tragically, gross human rights violations, such as torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings are the order of the day. While local human rights defenders’ struggle to address these systematic abuses, Islamabad uses intimidation tactics to silence anyone who dares to bring these crimes to light. Enforced disappearances, in particular, are a tool used to terrorize the civilian population and instill fear.”
Mr. Habib Bhutto of Jeay Sindh Qoumi Mahaz (USA) said “More than 200 political workers of Jeay Sindh movement have kidnapped by Pakistani intelligence agencies I.S.I and M.I. Missing persons belong to Jeay Sindh Qomi Mahaz and other several other nationalist parties.”
Mr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch, the leader of Baloch National Movement, stated that mass killings, torture, and disappearances committed by Pakistani state security forces could not weaken the resolve of Sindh and Balochistan to become free nations.
Mr. Mumtaz Khan representative of the Kashmiri struggle for rights and freedoms said, “Enforced disappearances of political activists by Pakistani security forces are largely linked to the people’s opposition to CPEC and Chinese hegemony in the region.”
Mr. Sufi Laghari, Sindh rights activist and founder of Sindhi Foundation speaking on human rights violations in Sindh stated that the state of Pakistan responsible for the enforced disappearances of our youth should one day disappear from the globe as a country.
Mr. Edwin Ngang, with the Republic of Ambazonia, helped remind us that enforced disappearances are not just limited to one area but instead this is a global issue.