Pakistan: Police baton charge, arrest Baloch long march protesters in Islamabad


ISLAMABAD: Police in various areas of the federal capital apprehended numerous Baloch long march protesters after using water canons and baton charges to break the protest against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings early on Wednesday.

Social media footage showed security forces using water cannons and tear gas, as well as forcibly loading Baloch protesters into police vehicles.

A day earlier, the Baloch Yekjehti Committee (BYC) members and other protesters were stopped from entering Islamabad. The long march was started against the alleged extrajudicial killing of Balach Baloch.

The Islamabad police blocked entry points of the city to prevent the protesters from reaching the National Press Club. The protest aimed to voice resentment until concrete action was taken against those implicated in the killing of Baloch.

The protesters, accuse the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of unjustly branding Balach Baloch a terrorist and carrying out his cold-blooded killing. The CTD vehemently denies these allegations, asserting that the incident resulted from an armed clash between “miscreants” and security forces in the Pasni road area of Turbat.

The leader of the BYC, Mahrang Baloch, and other women were also arrested by the police and were taken to the Ramna Police Station reportedly.

Mahrang Baloch said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that the protesters were “unable to connect to our male fellows we fear that the state will abduct them”.

She also highlighted the violent police behaviour stating that they are “being treated worse than animals. Will the world raise its voice for us against this barbarism?”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan criticised the police crackdown and urgently called “on the government to organise a delegation to meet the protesters and give their legitimate demands a fair hearing”.

“This treatment of Baloch citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly is inexcusable. It also reflects how little the state thinks of the protesters’ demand that their right to life and liberty be upheld.”.

Amnesty International, in a separate statement, said it was concerned by the “excessive use of force by law enforcement against the Baloch long march protestors”.

“Dozens have been detained and several others injured, including women, minors and elderly persons, violating their rights to liberty, security and protest.”

The international human rights organisation demanded that the authorities immediately release all the protesters and drop any charges brought against them for “solely exercising their right to freedom of expression and right to protest”.

Amnesty further urged the government to conduct an impartial investigation of all “extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, particularly in Balochistan”. The organisation further demanded compensation for the affected