On this 2014 International Women’s Day I ask everyone to join me in celebrating the extensive accomplishments of the inspirational and influential women activists from the turbulent region of Balochistan. Since 2005, the Pakistan armed forces have been engaged in their 5th violent campaign of ethnic cleansing within the province. The violence in the Balochistan region continues to escalate with each passing day. During the past 12 years nearly 20,000 Indigenous Baloch civilians have been illegally abducted by State agencies. Most of the Baloch abductees have been subjected to severe acts of torture and many are extra-judicially executed. More than 1800 bullet-riddled and tortured remains of Abducted Baloch citizens have been recovered since 2005 in Balochistan.
Women like Voice for Baloch Missing Person’s General Secretary Farzana Majeed Baloch. Farzana Majeed Baloch was an accomplished student, holding a MSC in chemistry and a BA in Balochi. Five years ago, Farzana’s younger brother and Baloch Student organization leader Zakir Majeed Baloch was unlawfully abducted by Pakistani ISI agents in Mastung. Zakir Majeed Baloch was a 27 year old English student at the Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences. After his abduction in 2009 Farzana Majeed Baloch began a crusade for his safe release. She went before regional courts and supreme courts to petition for her brother’s release, yet was turned away. When the courts refused to help, Farzana Majeed took up peaceful protest. Several times she staged hunger strike demonstrations at the Islamabad supreme courts, but to no avail. After all avenues of legal action had been exhuased, Farzana Majeed Baloch joined the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Long March for Justice.
Farzana Majeed Baloch, alongside Banok Sammi Baloch, Banok Saba Baloch, 11 year old Ali Haider Baloch, 9 year old Bewarg Baloch and Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Vice-Chairman Mama Qadeer, and a few other participants braved nearly 3000 km of rugged desolate Pakistani desert highways in protest of the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan. After more than 100 days of marching; the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons’ Long March finally reached Islamabad. Since their arrival in Islamabad, they have staged demonstrations and protests as well as meeting with journalists, ambassadors, and international delegations.
Women like Farzana Majeed Baloch continue to inspire people around the world to demand basic human rights and civil liberty. Throughout the past five years, Farzana Majeed has overcome incredible adversity through her continued resilience and persistence. Despite threats to the Long March protestors, vehicular attacks and even Police interference, Farzana remained steadfast in her quest to demand accountability for her brother and the over 20,000 other victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.
Another well known Baloch activist is Baloch Republican Party Women’s Wing Organizer Banuk Horan Baloch. Banuk Horan founded the Woman’s Wing of BRP in 2012 and has quickly gained a great deal of support. Baloch Republican Party Women’s Wing now maintains chapters in Quetta, Mastung, Gwadar, Turbat, Karchi and Tump. Banuk Horan Baloch has become an influential and integral part of the liberation movement.
Banuk Horan Baloch has participated in countless demonstrations and protests against Pakistan’s relentless military attacks upon the citizens of Balochistan. In April 2013 target killers attempted to assassinate Banuk Horan Baloch. Unidentified Gunmen indiscriminately fired upon her family home. Although her home was damaged, Banuk Horan and her family were unharmed. Despite the violent attempt on her life, Banuk Horan Baloch continued her struggle to generate awareness of the severe human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Pakistani Army in Balochistan. In addition to organizing and holding protests, Banuk Horan continues to appeal to international human rights organizations.
In a recent statement, Banuk Horan Baloch said:
“In the Baloch Nation have a lot of respect Baloch women, Baloch women are always in the veiled slave is not their committed their nation but they committed for their freedom, they not considered as a nation till they not get freedom. The freedom of our motherland stand like me Baloch female stand with our Baloch Brother, how do we bear if the our brother mutilated bodies has been dumped forces abducted our brother and tortured them in their torture cell it’s not possible we (sister’s) just sit at home and crying, we stand with our brother for the independence of Balochistan forever.”
Banuk Horan Baloch, Farzana Majeed Baloch, Banuk Karema Baloch, Banuk Zarina Marri, and so many other Baloch Women Activists stand bravely in opposition to a tyrannical occupational state in Balochistan. Through their brave deeds and continued efforts, the heroic Women of Balochistan stand as brilliant examples of the greatness one can achieve even amidst oppression and adversity.
– Shawn Forbes