HRCP demands probe into disappearances in Balochistan
Saturday, February 21, 2009By our correspondentLAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called on the government to immediately set up an independent commission to deal with cases of forced disappearances in Balochistan, release any people in the unacknowledged custody of state agencies and help secure the release of the UNHCR official, John Solecki.In a statement issued on Friday, the HRCP said the abduction of the UNHCR official Solecki, and his abductor’s demand for the release of a large number of Balochistan citizens, including women, unfolded more serious dimensions. It is almost three weeks since Mr Solecki was abducted and every passing day was increasing apprehensions about his safety, it said, adding that the group, which claimed to be holding the UN official, had issued a list of 867 involuntarily disappeared people, including over a hundred women and a separate list of 138 women had also been released, containing the addresses of 76 women and the dates of their ‘arrests’. The statement said it was the first time that people, at least outside Balochistan, had learnt of the forced disappearances of Baloch women and situation was shameful for politicians and the civil society who should be defenders of the oppressed.Efforts must be made to calm down the Baloch people’s feelings of outrage and this should have been a top priority issue even if Solecki had not been abducted, the HRCP said, adding that while attempts to secure Solecki’s release, through negotiations, should continue, the federal government must immediately set up a high-powered commission, with Balochistan adequately represented, to investigate the cases of all missing persons. It said the commission should have the power to summon any state employee and grant appropriate relief. Even before the commission was formed, the HRCP said, it was necessary to order all state agencies to immediately disgorge anyone held in their custody or show cause for holding him/her.