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Pakistan: Excessive use of force and arrest of Baloch human rights defenders and peaceful protesters

44 received concerning information regarding the excessive use of force and arrest of human rights defenders and peaceful protesters in Pakistan.

On 20 December 2023, Pakistan authorities in Islamabad used excessive force, including tear gas, batons and water cannons against peaceful protesters engaged in ‘the Baloch long march’ led by women against continuing repression and human rights violations including enforced disappearances in the State of Balochistan. The authorities blocked protesters from entering Islamabad, beating and detaining many of them, including human rights defenders.

‘The Baloch Mong March’, is a women-led peaceful protest campaign which started on 6 December 2023. It is a campaign that highlights historic and ongoing violations by Pakistan authorities against the Baloch community including enforced and involuntary disappearance, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention and torture. Protesters have been walking since 6 December 2023 on a peaceful march led by women human rights defenders.

Pakistan police and state authorities prevented the peaceful Baloch protesters from reaching Islamabad, and put up barricades to impede them. On the night of 20 December, police used excessive and brutal force against the protesters which included elderly people and minors. Those attacked included human rights defenders, namely families of the Baloch disappeared who have been campaigning for years, seeking the truth about their loved ones, and campaigning for their release and redress for violations committed against them. Instead of adhering to the demands for an end to violations, state authorities have chosen to perpetrate a pattern of brutal violence and arrest of protesters, many of whom are injured and around 226 persons of which still in jail. is extremely concerned for the safety of those arrested, including woman human rights defender Mahrang Baloch who has publicly shared the reprisals that protesters have been facing, including the mass arrests. Given the history of criminalization, abuse of anti-terror laws, and custodial violence, we are deeply concerned for the safety of all those in custody. We are also concerned about the possibility of reprisals including surveillance, false legal cases, raids and other forms of violence against the Baloch human rights community as punishment for their support for, or participation in, the Long March.