Birmingham [UK]: Human rights activists from the World Baloch Organisation and the Baloch Republican Party continue their campaign to highlight the dire human rights situation in Pakistan. In their latest initiative, roadside billboards have been put up around the city of Birmingham with slogans “Help end enforced disappearances in Pakistan”.
The billboards have gone up on major roads and junctions around the city including highways. This comes as Birmingham hosted Pakistan vs New Zealand ICC cricket world cup match, attracting thousands of cricket fans to the city. The activists hope to grab the attention of cricket fans.
According to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, an entity established by the Pakistani government, 5000 cases of enforced disappearances have been registered since 2014. Most of them are still unresolved. Independent local and international human rights organisations put the numbers much higher. 20,000 have reportedly been abducted only from Balochistan, out of which more than 2,500 have turned up dead as bullet-riddled dead bodies, bearing signs of extreme torture.
This comes as part of an ongoing campaign by the groups to highlight cases of disappearances in Pakistan for which human rights organisations have blamed Pakistan’s security forces.
The campaign has included Billboards in London, Guerilla advertising, and adverts placed in top UK newspapers.
Earlier, in January 2014 a mass grave was discovered in Tootak area of Khuzdar. 167 bodies were recovered from the site. Human rights organisations believed the bodies belonged to previously abducted individuals who were killed and dumped however the recovered bodies were later buried by authorities without any DNA testing.
Pakistan’s establishment has been long criticized over its practice of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by International bodies and local human rights organisations that dare to speak out on the issue.
Before being elected as prime minister, Imran Khan had admitted in multiple TV interviews the involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and vowed to resign if he was unable to put an end to the practice, holding those involved responsible. Families of the abducted victims have long been protesting for the safe recovery of their loved ones in the provincial capital Quetta, and their protest camp has now completed more than 3500 days.
The organisers of the campaign have long been engaged in efforts to highlight the worsening human rights situation in Balochistan at international platforms, organising events around Europe and in the United States, focusing on advocacy activities in the European Parliament, the US parliamentary houses, and the United Nations.