ISLAMABAD: In a bold move, the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC) has given the government a three-day ultimatum to release detainees, escalating tensions during an ongoing sit-in protest in Islamabad. The protesters, advocating an end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan, demand the immediate release of detained demonstrators and the dismissal of charges against them.
Rally for Justice Led by Baloch Women
The protest, initiated by Baloch women after the alleged extrajudicial killing of a Baloch youth, had started in Turbat on December 6 and reached the federal capital on Wednesday. However, the police, anticipating the demonstrators’ arrival at the National Press Club (NPC), deployed blockades and used force to disperse and detain over 200 individuals.
Criticism and Condemnation
The police actions drew strong condemnation from human rights organizations, politicians, and analysts. Despite the government’s claim of releasing 90% of the detainees, concerns linger as some individuals remain unidentified, according to Chief Justice Aamer Farooq, President Dr Arif Alvi, and caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar.
BYC’s Three-Day Ultimatum
The BYC, expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s response, issued a three-day ultimatum for the withdrawal of FIRs against peaceful protesters and the release of over 100 Baloch students whose status is still missing. The committee warned of “harsh steps” if demands were not met, holding the state and administration responsible.
Demands and Allegations
The BYC’s charter of demands includes a call for a UN fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Balochistan, acknowledgment of the staged fake encounter by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), and the immediate release of all forcibly disappeared Baloch individuals. Additionally, the BYC demands the closure of the CTD and death squads supported by state agencies.
Continued Sit-In and International Support
The BYC pledges to continue its sit-in at the NPC until demands are met. Meanwhile, international figures like Mohammed Hanif and climate activist Greta Thunberg express solidarity with the protesters, denouncing the state’s actions and advocating for justice.
Calls for Dialogue and Legal Assistance
As tensions rise, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) urges the government to prioritize dialogue and resolution, offering legal assistance to arrested protesters. The association condemns the recent police crackdown, labeling it a gross infringement of the right to peaceful assembly and expression.
Renunciation and Global Awareness
In a symbolic gesture, British-Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif returns his Sitara-i-Imtiaz as a protest against the state’s actions. Climate activist Greta Thunberg also stands in solidarity with the protesters, highlighting the global impact of the issue.
As the BYC’s ultimatum looms, the situation remains tense, with the government facing increasing pressure to address the legitimate concerns of the protesters and ensure justice for the people of Balochistan.