Mr. Munir Mengal, a human rights defender and Chairperson of French-based Baloch Voice Association (BVA) participated in the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. This session was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from the 14th of September until the 7th October 2020.
During the session, he expressed his concern about the human rights situation in Baluchistan on three separate occasions, protesting Pakistani military kidnapping and forced evictions of locals from the area. Pakistan has implemented these policies as they have developed closer ties to China through the CPEC (China – Pakistan Economic Corridor) which is a core part of China’s “Belt and Road Initiatives.”
Baloch people who have been removed from the area are tortured and killed by Pakistani military, as well as the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), Pakistan’s CIA-equivalent.
Mr. Mengal himself is one of a few survivors who was kidnapped, forced into a concentration camp, and tortured for nearly two years. He described in detail how Pakistan is oppressing the identities of Baloch, Sindhi and other ethnic minorities.
“On one side, people in Balochistan are facing systematic military operations, displacements and enforced disappearances. On the other side, the state has deprived people of presenting their culture, reading and writing their mother tongue, and barred cultural norms and traditions. All to eliminate their identity.”
In Balochistan, reading and writing in the native language of Balochi is prohibited. People who try to practice their cultures and beliefs are labeled as traitors.
“The right to education, right to health care, economic and job rights are far from thought for the Balochi people. In Balochistan, justice and the judiciary have become irrelevant and impunity prevails in every aspect of life.”
Mr. Mengal used to go to a state-run Army school. He was taught that Hindus are kafirs (a pejorative and derogatory term usually used for non-Muslims) and Jews are enemies of Islam. In this way, people are brainwashed and hatred emerges. Despite all this, this struggle in Balochistan remains largely unknown outside of Pakistan, with the pain of the Balochi people barely mentioned on international news. Mr. Mengal aims to change this.
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