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Canada: Death of Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch in Toronto

Monday 28 December 2020, by siawi3


Karima Baloch, Pakistani human rights activist, found dead in Canada

Tuesday 22 December 2020,

by Shah Meer Baloch and Hannah Ellis-Petersen

Husband says foul play cannot be ruled out after body of 37-year-old dissident discovered in Toronto

A dissident Pakistani human rights activist living in exile in Canada has been found dead in Toronto after going missing.

Karima Baloch, 37, was granted asylum in Canada in 2016 after her work as a human rights activist in the troubled Pakistan state of Balochistan had led to her being followed and threatened by the authorities.

The first chair of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO-Azad), a political student organisation, she had been advocating for the rights of those in a region home to a long-running insurgency movement, and raising the ongoing issue of enforced disappearances.

She was listed by the BBC in its 100 most inspirational and influential women of 2016 for her work in human rights

Baloch is the second Pakistani dissident from Balochistan living in exile to be found dead this year. In May, Sajid Hussain, a journalist who wrote about human rights violations in Balochistan, was found dead in a river in Sweden, where he had sought asylum after threats to his life in Pakistan.

Baloch’s husband, Hammal Haider, also a Pakistani activist living in exile, said she had left home at midday on Sunday for a walk on Toronto’s Centre Island as she often did, but never returned. Toronto police later put out an appeal for information on Twitter and her body was found on Monday on the island.

“I can’t believe that it’s an act of suicide. She was a strong lady and she left home in a good mood,” Haider said. “We can’t rule out foul play as she has been under threats. She left Pakistan as her home was raided more than twice. Her uncle was killed. She was threatened to leave activism and political activities but she did not and fled to Canada.”

Later on Tuesday, Toronto police said Baloch’s death was “currently being investigated as a non-criminal death and there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.” They did not provide further details.

But Haider said a month ago he had received multiple threatening messages over social media after raising the issue of human rights abuses and military operations in Balochistan.

He said: “I was told that my brothers and wife can be targeted. I didn’t take them seriously. We often get such trolls and threats while talking about human rights abuses.

Lateef Johar, a Baloch activist and close friend in exile in Canada, told the Guardian the police had said Baloch’s body had been found near a body of water. “The police have not provided any further details. They have not told us the cause of death nor have they returned the body of Karima.”

Johar said he had met Baloch on Thursday at the University of Toronto, where they were both students. They talked on the phone on Friday. “I don’t think this is an accident or an act of suicide,” Johar said. “We all feel threatened here. Even after the killing of Sajid Hussain I fear when I find myself in a dark street.”

Amnesty International said: “The death of activist Karima Baloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty.”

Since moving to Canada, Baloch had continued to be vocal about human rights abuses in her home province and across Pakistan. She regularly spoke at conferences, addressed the media and attended protest rallies in Canada.

“She had received threats from unknown Pakistani numbers on WhatsApp after a few Baloch students were abducted in late 2017,” said Johar. “Those threats also mentioned me. She was asked to come back to Pakistan and told that if she comes back, the cases against her would be quashed and those abducted students would be freed.”

The Swedish authorities ruled out foul play in the death of Hussain but an autopsy did not confirm an exact cause of death. A friend of the family who has seen the autopsy report and police investigation told the Guardian: “The family was not convinced by the investigation and they have requested for more evidence from the Swedish authorities. Their request has yet to be entertained.”



The Tragic Death of Karima Baloch – Exiled Baloch activists are going missing and later they are found dead

Wednesday 23 December 2020,

by Musa

The renowned Baloch activist Karima Baloch was found dead in Toronto after going missing for a day. Earlier this year another Baloch activist and journalist, Sajid Hussain, also went missing in Sweden and later his body was found in a river. Such assassinations are meant to silence the rising voices against the national oppression and exploitation in Balochistan but every new incident is giving impetus to the movement against national oppression.

The renowned Baloch activist Karima Baloch was found dead in Toronto after going missing for a day. As per the account of her husband Hammal Haider, on Sunday 21st December she went for a walk on Toronto’s Centre Island, which she often did, but never returned. The Toronto police had appealed for information regarding her whereabouts on Twitter. The next day her dead body was found on the island. Earlier this year another Baloch activist and journalist Sajid Hussain also went missing in Sweden and later his body was found in a river. This is a new round of horrible incidents in which the exiled Baloch activists are going missing and later they are found dead in the so-called “democratic” and “free” countries. Such horrible acts of blatant murders show to what extent the powers-that-be are feeling threatened by a renewed upsurge in the Baloch movement fighting against the national oppression. Such assassinations are meant to silence the rising voices against the national oppression and exploitation in Balochistan but every new incident is giving impetus to the movement against national oppression.

Karima Baloch was the former chairperson of left leaning, Baloch Student Organization (Azad). The organization was the most vocal group regarding the national oppression of Balochistan and openly advocated for cession. Countless activists of the organization were forcibly disappeared by the authorities. The organization was later banned by the government. Karima was compelled to leave Pakistan in 2016 and sought asylum in Canada. There she continued her activities against enforced disappearances and Baloch oppression. According to her husband, she regularly received threats on phone and trolled on social media.

There is a long and tumultuous history of struggle against national oppression in Balochistan in which Baloch Student Organization and its different factions played a prominent role. Thousands of Baloch youth sacrificed their lives in this series of movements against national subjugation of Balochistan. Historically, there have been four major armed rebellions in Balochistan against national exploitation and oppression. The ongoing struggle is probably the longest one which kicked off at the outset of the twenty-first century and is still continuing with all ebbs and flows.

On the other hand, the response of state authorities to this rebellion has been ruthless. The struggle was dealt with ruthless military operations and thousands of Baloch political activists were abducted, killed and then their bodies were thrown. According to Baloch nationalist parties and activists, the authorities nurtured numerous lumpen and fundamentalist outfits tasked with crushing of all kinds of dissident voices in Balochistan. The Baloch political activists term these outfits as “death squads”. They are actually gangs of criminal elements enjoying the patronage of authorities.

But recently the struggle against national oppression has experienced a new transformation. It has taken the form of radical political activism. The earlier armed struggle has left deep imprints on Baloch youth and they have drawn valuable conclusions through their experiences.

In May this year, a Baloch woman Malik Naz was killed in Turbat (Balochistan) during a house robbery by a gang of notorious “death squad” and her daughter was severely injured. This sparked off huge protest demonstrations all across Balochistan. Though the immediate trigger of events was the unbridled criminal acts of “death squads” but the underlying cause runs deep into the history of decades of national oppression. During these protests, the speakers made speeches against state oppression and national exploitation. A few months later another horrific incident occurred in Turbat in which a young Hayat Baloch was brutally killed by paramilitary personnel. The incident set off another series of protests and demonstrations all across the province. Solidarity protests were also held in major metropolitans of the country.

Similarly, there were huge Baloch students’ mobilizations during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The students in Balochistan were protesting against online classes because there is no internet infrastructure in the province. They were demanding either the government provide a free internet infrastructure or the online classes be abolished.

During all these protests Baloch women were playing a leading role. Among them, Mahrang Baloch is the most prominent leader during all these events. She has become the public face of the political revival of struggle against national oppression. These protest demonstrations are a turning point in the long struggle against national oppression in Balochistan. These protests have garnered support from other provinces and nationalities which previously remained aloof to the atrocities and oppressions in Balochistan.

The tragic death of Karima Baloch will engender further mobilizations and protests. The Baloch Yakjehti Committee (Baloch Solidarity Committee) has already called for protests against Karima’s murder. The death of Karima in Canada has exposed the ugly face of imperialist powers who hypocritically pose as defenders of free speech and democracy but at the same provide sanctuary to all kinds of proxy criminals who conduct their criminal operations against dissidents with complete impunity. For them, the plight of oppressed nationalities is simply a tool to blackmail and extract favourable deals from their rivals. If Karima was from Venezuela, Cuba, Iran or any country not in the good books of imperialist powers they would have moved heavens and earth to find the culprits and then hypocritically incriminate the governments of those countries. The imperialist powers are no friends of oppressed nationalities. The only friends of oppressed Baloch are the oppressed masses of other nationalities.


Read more here:


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ANI | Updated: Dec 27, 2020 22:44 IST