DEATH OF A YOUNG ACTIVIST

The untimely death of Karima Baloch is shocking and deeply disturbing. She could have been my daughter for so many reasons: her age; she was only 37. She had been a student of psychology like me and her activism to fight for the human rights of Baloch students totally resonates with me.  

Karima had been missing for two days and her body was found on Monday 21 December in a canal in Toronto. Police said there did not believe there to be any suspicious circumstances. However, Ms. Baloch had recently received anonymous threats warning someone would send her a “Christmas gift” and “teach her a lesson”.  The Baloch Human Rights council of Canada rejects the findings of the Toronto police that Karima killed herself and demand an independent inquiry into her death

Who was Karima Baloch?

Karima had come to Canada as a refugee when her life became unbearable in Pakistan. Its reported that upon arrival in Canada, she had ripped off the hijab she had had to wear for ten years because being veiled helped her blend in with the crowds, and that she had declared: “I finally feel free, and safe.”

Karima was no ordinary person. She was the first female head of the Baloch Students Organization (BSO), a group that fights for the rights of the Baloch people. In 2016, the BBC listed her among the 100 most “influential and inspirational” women in the world.

Karima and her husband were actively involved in lobbying for the rights of the Baloch people. Balochistan is located in the south west of Pakistan. In the west it borders with Afghanistan and Iran and in the south, it has the Arabian Sea. It accounts for nearly half the land mass of Pakistan and only 3.6% of its total population. The province is immensely rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, copper and gold. Despite these huge deposits of mineral wealth, the area is one of the poorest regions of Pakistan. A vast majority of its population lives in deplorable housing conditions where they don’t have access to electricity or clean drinking water.

In 1948, Balochistan decided not to accede the rest of Pakistan. On March 26, 1948, the Pakistan Army was ordered to move into the Baloch coastal region of Pasni, Jiwani and Turbat and since then there has been turbulent unrest in the area. Many Baloch activists have been persecuted. Earlier this year, a Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain suspiciously died in Sweden.

It seems that the turf wars have now moved to the West.

When such proxy killings happen, where do we stand in Canada? Politicians have no idea the situation, not that they don’t want to know. Fact is they only know what the lobby tells them. We have very strong ISI (Pakistan Inter Service Intelligence) backed lobbies, along with Iranian regime lobbies right up the corridors of power. We recently saw the suspicious death of two Iranian activists in Canada who spoke out against the Iranian regime.

If you listen to the statements of some of Parliamentarians regarding these issues their words echo more as if they were from Islamabad or Tehran rather than Ottawa. One wonders????

Who will follow up on Karima’s death?

Because she was an activist, unfortunately the community wants to distance itself except the people who are passionate about human rights and other Baloch activists. Mainstream media also avoids such issues.

Since this is not the first or the last of these ghastly proxy murders, its time law enforcement and politicians get caught up on issues dealing with migrant communities by taking assistance from human rights activist of those areas.

About raheelraza

Author, Public Speaker and Human Rights Advocate
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