IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE

Women’s march demanding justice for disappearances and murders in Pakistan, 200 arrests

Sathia Kumar

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse women’s march in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse women’s march in Islamabad, Pakistan. BBC reported that this incident happened on Thursday.

The march reached the capital. Police arrested at least 200 people. Mahrang Baloch, who led the protest, was also arrested.

Protests have been going on for weeks over the enforced disappearance of men in Balochistan. Anger has been on the rise since the recent death of a Baloch man. The man was allegedly shot dead while in police custody.

Mahrang Baloch said on X (formerly known as Twitter) that Islamabad police attacked the women’s protest march around 2.30 pm local time on Thursday.

The police did not allow the protesters to enter the red zone. Islamabad has executive, judiciary buildings in red zone. The police had sticks in their hands and helmets on their heads.

Videos posted on social media showed the commotion of protesters gathered in police cars. Many were seen screaming. Some are seen lying on the ground and injured.

The so-called enforced disappearances in Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, point to undeclared arrests by intelligence agencies. Victims of disappearances are not taken to court, and the government is not informed. Victims include political activists, journalists, human rights activists and students.

Disappearances have been reported since the birth of the Balochistan nationalist movement in the early 2000s. Over the years many Baloch women have sought justice for their missing loved ones and brought the issue to global attention.

Counter-terrorism police allegedly picked up 24-year-old Balach Mola Bux last on October 29. He was detained for almost a month. Authorities later claimed he was caught with explosives.

Just a day before the bail application on November 23, police said four terrorists of the banned group, including Mola Bux, were killed. They were killed in a shootout with the police in Balochistan’s Turbat town.

His family has disputed claims of involvement in terrorism and said he died in police custody.

From the day it was said that Bux was killed, the ‘March Against Baloch Genocide’ started in protest. Protesters demand an end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. They also demanded that those involved in the extrajudicial killings of Baloch youth should be brought to justice.

“We started our march 26 days ago,” Baloch said before being arrested. We join thousands of mothers, sisters, daughters of missing or murdered victims.

“The authorities can do anything to stop us,” he said. But we won’t stop. We are peaceful protesters, we will be peaceful, if they are not.

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