AWP condemns murder of Baloch rights activist Karima Baloch in Canada

Part leadership demands release of Ali Wazir

Karachi: The Awami Workers Party (AWP) condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of Karima Baloch, a noted rights activist in Canada and demanded arrest of the culprits.

According to media reports Karima Baloch, 35, went missing on Sunday in the Bay Street and Queens Quay West area, Canada. Her body was found on Monday.

Karima Baloch, who had taken refuge in Canada in 2015, was critical of the atrocities meted out to the oppressed people, especially of Balochistan, and also raised voice against gender inequality at the international forums and on social media. She played a pioneering role in women activism in the province.

Karima, who was a leader of Baloch Students Organisation-Azad (BSO-Azad) in her student days, was named by the BBC as one of the world’s 100 most “inspirational and influential” women in 2016.

Recently, she had launched a campaign on social media for the release of Shabbir Baloch, the BSO-Azad information secretary who has gone missing on October 4.

This is the second high profile murder of a Baloch activist in a foreign country. Earlier, Sajid Hussain Baloch, the editor of Balochistan Times had been murdered in Sweden as his body was found from a river on April 23 this year.

In a statement, AWP President Yousuf Mustikhan, general secretary Akhtar Hussain Advocate, deputy secretary Ismat Shahjehan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa president Akhundzada Haider Zaman, Sindh President Bakhshal Thalho, Seraiki Waseb President Farhat Abbas, Punjab President Ammar Rashid, and Balochistan President Yousuf Kakar described it yet another despicable act in a country that boasts of hosting a large number of immigrants from South Asia, its pluralistic society and respect for rule of law.

“I am devastated to know about the sad news of Karima’s tragic death which is a huge loss for all the oppressed people of Balochistan,” said Mr Mustikhan.

He said that the murder of Karima was a grim reminder of the continuing threat to the lives of those who raise their voice for the oppressed people.

“This has become a dangerous pattern to intimidate, abduct, torture and kill activists,” said Ismat Shahjehan. Even elected representatives are not safe in this country, citing the example of MNA Ali Wazir who was arrested by police on Motorway and handed over to Sindh police last week.

She said that conscious people should raise voice on Karima’s murder and life threat to Ali Wazir in police custody.

AWP leader Aliya Amirali said Karima was deeply respected by Baloch students as well as seasoned politicians and workers across the political spectrum and different segments of Baloch society for her intellect, courage, and commitment to the rights of the Baloch people.

From a very young age, and in a society where it was previously uncommon to see a woman participate independently and actively in politics, Karima’s unwavering commitment to resisting injustice and violence led her to become one of the most revered and respected Baloch political leaders of her time, she said.

AWP FC member and former Punjab president Asim Sajjad Akhtar said it also reminds the fact that the establishment continues to depict Baloch activists who ask for equality and dignity as ‘anti-state’ agitators and this simply deepens the wounds of Baloch youth.

The AWP leaders called for an end to the military operation and gross human rights violations in Balochistan including abducting and killing of innocent people.

They also called for the immediate release of Ali Wazir and ensure his safety.

The AWP leaders also called on the governments of Pakistan and Canada to initiate an independent and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Baloch activist’s death and trace her killers.