Rally against forced disappearances of Baloch Students held in Punjab University

Report: Laiba Ali

A rally was held by Baloch Students Council at Punjab University Lahore Quaid e Azam campus to protest against the forced disappearance of Baloch students.
Different student councils and organizations including Progressive Students
Collective actively took part in the demonstration. About 200 students gathered in
front of the Cultural Studies department on 15th of March around 2pm and
started rallying towards the IR department where the walk officially ended and
several speeches were made. The participants raised slogans against the
abduction of Baloch students and demanded their immediate release. ‘ Release
Hafeez Baloch’, ‘Stop Forced Abductions’ could easily be read on the posters
carried by the demonstrators.

The rally was mainly held for the immediate release of Hafeez Baloch- an Mphil
scholar at Quaid e Azam University Karachi- who, the protesters claimed, was
forcefully abducted from his hometown in Buzdar while teaching his students in a
local academy. According to the participants of the rally, the security agencies
have been continuously harassing and abducting innocent Baloch students for a
long time and that they are wrenched away from their loved ones by state
officials, or others acting on their behalf, placing them outside the protection of
the law. The authorities deny the person is in their custody or refuse to say where
they are, plunging the families of the disappeared into a state of anguish who try
to keep the flame of hope alive while fearing the worst. Many have been in this
limbo for years.

One of the students at the rally said that his fellow Baloch students were not
terrorists and the state must immediately stop this illegal step which is a crime
under international law. He further asserted that the disappeared students are at
risk of torture and even death. If they are released, the physical and
psychological scars endure; if they are killed, the family may not even find out
about their death and will never recover from their loss. Disappearances are a
tool of terror and the state must put an end to it.

The president of Progressive Students Collective, Qaiser Javed, maintained that
the paramilitary forces in Balochistan have been a common site for the past two
decades and even educational institutions are heavily militarized; this is high time
that we come out for our Baloch students who have been ill treated and have
been deprived of their fundamental rights. The right to fair trial, the right to dignity,
the right to life is the basic fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan
according to the constitution. He further said that he reproached this illegal and
inhumane act of torturing, disappearing and killing Baloch students merely on
ethnic basis and demanded the state to stop this act of terrorism.

The rally ended in front of the International Relations department where students
from the Baloch Council made speeches, rebuking the state officials’ attitude
and sheer negligence towards the problem of forced abductions.They asserted
that this illegal activity is tormenting the families and friends of the abducted
students and that they refuse to stop these demonstrations and protests across
the country until the immediate and safe release of all abducted students.

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