Written By NAFSO on Saturday, February 06, 2016 | 11:47:00 AM
Since inception, Pakistan has been at war with its own citizens; time and again the State has indulged in gross human rights violation to muzzle voices of dissent. Ethnic Balochis have especially suffered discrimination and stigmatization, by successive military and civil governments. Due to State negligence, Baluchistan remains the least developed province even though its natural resources fuel 60% of the nation’s economy. The call for equal rights for Balochis is viewed as rebellion by the State and “strategic tactics” of disappearances and extrajudicial killings are employed to silence the voices of conscience.
Earlier, on January 16, the Frontier Corp (FC) raided a house and killed Dr. Manan Baloch and four other persons by shooting directly at their heads. The FC and the Balochistan Interior Minister said that those killed were militants and that they died in a gun battle with security forces in Mastung District.
Dr. Manan, 48, was a physician by profession and a senior leader of the proscribed Baloch Liberation Front (BLF). He joined BLF after he began having to confront many dead bodies of those who had earlier been disappeared; these bodies had torture marks on them. He was a committed nationalists and he joined the movement for the independence of Balochistan.
Similarly, eight years ago, on 3 April 2009, the ex-President of the Baloch National Movement (BNM), Ghulam Muhammad Baloch, along with two other Baloch political activits, were abducted from their lawyer’s office at Turbat, at gunpoint by security officials. Six days later their mutilated and smashed bodies were found at Murghaab, 35 km from Turbat. The killing of this Baloch leader drew international condemnation.
Dr. Manan was widely respected for his tireless work for those internally displaced as a result of military and paramilitary operations in Balochistan. According to media reports, more than 178,000 persons from the Dera Bugti area – which has substantial deposits of natural gas, known as Sui gas – who were displaced as result of military action in 2005, are still not allowed to return home by the Frontier Corp. And, this is in direct violation of a Supreme Court order.
In the press conference, the Minister also stated that 8,363 Balochis were arrested over the span of 9 months, and 1,800 targeted operations were conducted in the Province between December 2014 and September 2015.
Next, in a 31 January 2016 press statement, the Interior Ministry of Balochistan notes that security forces conducted 239 intelligence-based operations in Balochistan over the past two months, in which 22 militants were killed and 14 others injured.
Dr. Manan was killed a day after a was meeting held between Sanaullah Zehri, the pro-Islamabad Chief Minister of Balochistan and Lieutenant General Amir Riaz, the highest official of the Pakistan Army designated in Balochistan. Both of them vowed to “chase the terrorists”. The Chief Minister urged security forces to work as a team and said, “I'll be your captain.” The next day, the vocal Baloch leader was murdered in what officials describe as an “operation against the terrorists”.
Since 1948, when the Khan of Kalat refused annexation to the State of Pakistan, five military operations have taken place in the province. However, these operations have proved futile in curbing insurgency, because the government has continued with its discriminatory policies. The Federal government’s militarized approach has further eroded peace and stability in the region. The Army is itself accused of prejudice against Balochis; a majority of Baloch leadership accuses the Army of being dominated by Punjabis and to be safeguarding the provincial political interests of Punjab.
The CPEC project has again provoked the Federal government to commence a new phase of military operations in far-flung areas of Balochistan, where there is a general feeling that with the start of CPEC, the Balochi people will become a minority in their own province.
In the past, the Baloch wanted greater autonomy and increased royalties from natural resources for provincial revenue. But due to repressive state policies, a peaceful movement has turned into an insurgency for separation. Suppression of dissenting voices will not serve any good to the province or the country. The use of force is only fuelling the conflict, while the solution clearly lies in the political way.
Dr. Manan was the General Secretary of the Baloch National Movement, a political group seeking independence from Pakistan. Although the BNM claims its struggle is peaceful, the Pakistan military has killed dozens of its leaders and activists, including its Founding President, Ghulam Mohammed Baloch, due to their separatist demand.
Written By NAFSO on Thursday, February 04, 2016 | 1:02:00 PM
Proposing 6 steps to be followed in tourism development process were discussed during the program.
Written By NAFSO on Wednesday, February 03, 2016 | 12:09:00 PM
Christian Solidarity Movement
Written By NAFSO on Tuesday, February 02, 2016 | 2:50:00 PM
It seems that Sri Lanka Police never learns a lesson. Although it has the Dharmachakra (Wheel of the Dharma) in its insignia and has Dhammobhaverakkathidhammachari (One who lives by Dhamma is protected by the Dhamma’; the police does not seem to adhere to Law and in fact takes Law unto its own hands.
In November 2015, we heard of heroic actions of a pregnant Woman Police Constable (WPC) in Kandy who saved the life of a six-year-old child about to be thrown onto an oncoming train by his own mother, disregarding her own safety. Despite there being many instances where the police personnel have helped civilians, actions of a handful of unscrupulous police officials are a discredit to the whole Police force.
According to Dr. George Katsiaficas, Professor of Sociology of Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, something is really rotten in the so-called ‘Democratic Socialist’ Republic of Sri Lanka. Since 1971, tens of thousands of people have been tortured, killed or disappeared by State-led terrorism and anti-government militants. When diving deeper into State-led killings and torture, one can understand, Sri Lanka Police is the main arm used by the political establishment to perpetrate these crimes.
The organisers of the party complied and provided them with hot beverages. When the Police had arrived the second time they were told that the party had run out of liquor and a volley of words ensued. The Police arrived again for taking revenge. At the time, the deceased – Sumith Prasanna Jayawardana was having his dinner, it was reported.
According to his wife 29-year-old Munasinghe ArachchigeShashikaNishamani Munasinghe, her husband was thrown from the top floor when both of them pleaded with the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) not to throw him over the building. She further states that she too was subjected to highly abusive language at gunpoint and was pushed away by the Police officers.
Minister of Law and Order Sagala Ratnayake read out a statement in parliament that it is yet to be ascertained whether the youth jumped or pushed by the Police to which statement, the Opposition Leader and JanathaVimukthiPeramuna (JVP) parliamentarian Aura Kumara Dissanayake said Sumith Prasanna would not have imagined himself to be Spiderman when contemplating to jump over from a three-storey building.
However, the most hilarious remark came from Police Media Spokesperson ASP Ruwan Gunasekera when he said that the ‘raid’ by the Police was in response to an ‘unlawful assembly’, making sane citizens think twice before holding birthday parties, wedding receptions, or even an alms giving!
Furthermore, grabbing notebooks of media personnel who went there to report the January 13th magisterial inquiry proceedings by a police officer did nothing but exhibiting the desperate naked attempts of the Police to suppress the truth.
According to the report, the police officers had tied Perera’s hands behind his back, blindfolded him and hung him from a beam, before brutally torturing him for about an hour and a half. During this time, Perera was reportedly interrogated concerning a murder case he stated he knew nothing about.
Perera had suffered from pain and was taken to Yakkala Wickramarachchi Ayurvedic Hospital. The doctor who examined him had referred Perera to Nawaloka Hospital due to his being in a serious medical condition. While in the Nawaloka Hospital, Perera reportedly gave a statement to an officer from the Grandpass Police Station in Colombo, concerning the torture he had been subjected.
According to the information received, Perera’s condition worsened on June 15, 2002, and he was then placed on a life support system, with his family having been informed that he may not survive. It was reportedly feared that the authorities may halt Perera’s use of the life support system, as the running costs were very high.
Few weeks prior to the murder, Perera had been under pressure to withdraw the case against the aforementioned officers in the Negombo High Court, under the Convention Against Torture Act of Sri Lanka, Act No. 22 of 1994. Sources from the victim’s family have stated that a group of police officers recently visited Perera’s home and pressured him to withdraw the case. Acquaintances of Perera have also been confronted by SI Suresh and SI Herath asking them to influence Perera to withdraw the complaint. Furthermore, a provincial council member of Mabole, known by Perera’s family as Niroshan, had also visited the victims home and asked Perera to withdraw his complaint.
The family was suspicious and went to the nearby Magistrate’s Court to call for the exhumation of the body. The court debated the issue for one year before a new magistrate arrived and made an order for exhumation. A second doctor issued a report declaring a lack of evidence of insecticide and ordering parts of the body be sent for toxicological analysis. He deferred his final findings till he discussed them with the doctor who made the first inquiry. The Government Analyst’s Department had reported negatively on the presence of any poisonous element. The doctor, however, after talking to the doctor who had done the first inquiry, had opined that the first report was correct. All three medical reports were sent to the Medical College for expert opinion. A professor of forensic science had given his view that the first doctor should have sent the body parts for toxicological analysis and that there was no evidence of death by taking insecticide. On the available evidence it was not possible to determine whether the death was due to suicide, homicide, or just natural reasons.
This debate on medical reports has gone on for nine years now. It is obvious that this healthy young woman’s death was never suspected to be due to natural reasons. If suicide is excluded, the other possibility is homicide. There are many reasons that have made the family believe that this is a case of homicide. The last thing known about the deceased person’s whereabouts was a telephone call from the local police station by the ASP asking Swarnarehka to come to his office immediately with a divided skirt worn by athletes. She had obeyed the orders and reported accordingly. Within two hours she was dead. Within the next two hours, the postmortem, embalming and everything was done, without any information to, or participation by, the family. The police had not answered the questions of the family about the details of the death and had been very hostile to the family. The family had heard conflicting versions about the death from different officers. The family believes that higher-ranking police officers have made secret inquiries about the death and have hushed up the findings.
This is a case where the only persons who know about the death are the police officers of this particular station. The family believes there were over 40 officers, including women, at the station. Only through rigorous interrogation of the police officers can what really took place be found out. The suicide story, which has been discounted, casts suspicion that there has been police complicity.
It has also been brought to the attention of the HRCSL.
The letter highlights that in many countries, institutional reforms led to a more humane police forces. Accordingly, it can be understood that Sri Lankan police is still underdeveloped, archaic and yet to evolve to modern times. The yahapalana government cannot realize its goals fully and truly without reforming and modernizing the police. In order to implement reforms the police needs the active participation of civil society organizations, other government agencies and the public at large.
The question before us is whether the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG) is truly serious about this. Question arises as to whether Minister Sagala Ratnayake is at all serious about policing the Police. We are yet to see any concrete action taken by President Maithripala Sirisena towards that. Only by political will and genuine intervention can we change this culture of violence where the police, set up to in fact safeguard the rights of the people, will be the true guardian of the people
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The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.