Repected scholar, intellect, activist and BSO-Azad Central Chairman Zahid Baloch was well known for his dedicated activism promoting the Baloch national identity & right to self determination. For over 10 years Zahid was a devoted and active member of the Baloch Students Organization.
“Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) is a student organisation that is championing the rights of Baloch people through peaceful means. Only students who are studying in a educational institution can be members of BSO.” – BSO-Azad Leadership
Zahid Baloch joined the BSO-Azad in 2003 when he moved to Karachi after completing his matriculation in his hometown of Naal, Khuzdar. While studying at Urdu College in Karachi, he served as president of BSO-Azad Karachi Zone from 2004 until 2005. In 2006 he joined the BSO-Azad Central Committee and 2 years later was elected to the position of General Secretary. After 6 years with the BSO-Azad CC, Zahid Baloch was elected as BSO-Azad Central Chairman in a 2012 BSO-Azad council session.
On March 18th 2014 Zahid Baloch and 3 other senior BSO-Azad leaders attended a BSO-Azad meeting in Satellite Town, Quetta. At around 5pm, as BSO-Azad members were leaving the meeting, Pakistan Frontier Corps Soldiers descended upon them. Several eyewitnesses including BSO-Azad senior Vice Chairperson Kareema Baloch and three other BSO-Azad leaders saw the PFC Paramilitary Soldiers detain interrogate and abduct BSO-Azad Central Chairman Zahid Baloch.
“The BSO-A, comprised of Baloch youngsters campaigning against human rights abuses in Balochistan, has been a victim of political persecution at the hands of Pakistan’s military establishment. Scores of its leaders and activists have been abducted and killed by Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and military in a brutal campaign of ‘abduct, kill and dump’. Zahid Baloch is the second chairman of the group to become a victim of enforced disappearance. On June 8, 2009, the group’s then chairman Zakir Majeed was picked up by intelligence agencies from Balochistan’s Mastung area. He is still missing.” – BSO-Azad Azad Leadership
On April 22nd 2014 BSO-Azad senior leaders held a press conference at the Karachi Press Club to launch a #HungerStrikeTillDeath protest against the illegal abduction of BSO-Azad Chairman Zahid Baloch. 22 year old BSO-Azaad Central Committee member Lateef Johar has since deprived himself of food & drink. Lateef Johar, a resident of Awaran who holds a BA from Turbat College joined the BSO-Azad in 2008. Passionate and Steadfast, Lateef Johar is an inspirational and significant member of the BSO-Azad leadership.
After 9 days of Hunger Strike, Lateef’s heath has significantly deteriorated. Unable to sit up or stand without assistance, attending doctors have expressed serious concern for Lateef’s well being. Research has shown the average human being can only sustain itself without food or water for 8 to 10 days.
Earlier today, renowned journalist Usad Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur visited Lateef and the BSO-Azad #HungerStrikeTillDeath protest camp in Karachi to urge Lateef to end his hunger strike. “I have come here to request him to end this strike. The point has been made.” Lateef, devoted to his cause, remains committed to his hunger strike till death unless BSO-Azad Chairman Zahid Baloch is released.
BSO-Azad senior Vice-Chairperson Kareema Baloch said the decision to conduct a hunger strike protest was agreed upon by the central committee, many members volunteered to do it. “If Johar is taken away or, God forbid, something happens to him, other members will step forward and take his place,” she said. “This cycle of hunger strikes will go on till Zahid Baloch is released.”
Lateef Johar issued a statement today in response to concerned activists, journalists and observers (please excuse some paraphrasing of a difficult translation);
“I am lucky to have such a beautiful death determined for me, exhibited publicly. But the greatest pleasure is the knowledge that living conscience is awakened in people, through my pain, humans who learn to love humanity. Hunger Strike till Death for me is nothing more than a teaching, to practice the lesson of physical weakness as the method. Even my last life giving breath cannot stop the hunger strike till death. Many encouraging and comforting visitors concerned for my declining health, have come to support my struggle. I tell them that my protest and my death will intensely resonate throughout the continent.” – Lateef Johar
In Gishkor, Balochistan, BRP and BRSO held a joint protest rally for the safe release of BSO-Azad Chairman Zahid Baloch. The demonstrators appealed to the UNO to play their role in the safe recovery of Zahid Baloch. Yesterday the relatives of extra-judicially abducted people held a protest in Panjgur. Participants blocked the roads and chanted slogans demanding the safe release of their abducted relatives illegally held in the custody of Pakistan security forces. Protestors in Jahoo also rallied against the extra judicial abduction of BSO-Azad leader Zahid Baloch.
“The important question is why Lateef Johar, who is young right now, only 22 years old, is happy to die of hunger & thirst. Lateef Johar sacrificing his life for reason of his organizations chairmans safe release from the custody of Pakistani Security Forces. Yet I didn’t see any action from Pakistani Government nor any action from international Human Rights Organizations. I am not surprised that Pakistani Government & Security Forces ignore & dismiss Lateef Baloch’s hunger & thirst for over 192 days, but am really shocked to see mainstream International Media & International Human Rights Organizations, including United Nations, completely silent about this young 22 year old student’s #HungerStrikeTillDeath . If Lateef Baloch dies due to hunger strike, I am sure many people will blame Pakistan’s Government and Security Forces, but I will also blame the United Nations, International Media, and the International Human Rights Organizations the same. Silence against a crime is also a crime.” – I. Baloch
Despite the tragic events unfolding at the Karachi Press Club, the Pakistani administration has refused to issue any statements regarding the extrajudicial abduction and subsequent detention of BSO-Azad leader Zahid Baloch. Zahid Baloch has been illegally detained without crime, charge, or legal representation for over 40 days now. BSO-Azad representatives have expressed serious concerns for Zahid’s safety and believe his life is in jeopardy.