ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned what it called the violent state crackdown on the peaceful Baloch protesters.

In a statement issued by HRCP chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt, the commission said it was appalled by the state’s response to peaceful protesters, with women, children and the elderly subjected to unwarranted force in the form of water cannons and use of batons.

“Numerous women protesters have reportedly been arrested and separated from their male relatives and allies. At least one Baloch woman journalist covering the long march has also been arrested. This treatment of Baloch people exercising their constitutional right to pea­c­­eful assembly and freedom of exp­ression is inexcusable,” it regretted.

An obdurate state that responds to calls for the right to life, liberty and due process to be upheld, by resorting to force at every stage, is a state that has shed its constitutional and moral responsibility for protecting and fulfilling the rights of all citizens, the HRCP said, asking the authorities to release all those detained immediately and unconditionally.

“We strongly urge the governm­ent to organise a delegation immediately to meet the protesters, give their legitimate demands a fair hea­ring and commit to upholding the rights of the Baloch people. The sta­te’s widespread use of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings also warrants a prompt and tra­nsparent investigation as well as a commitment to hold the perpetrators accountable,” it added.

Meanwhile, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg expressed solidarity with the Baloch protesters.

“Climate justice activists all over the world stand in solidarity with @MahrangBaloch_ and other peaceful protesters who have been detained, tortured and disrupted by Islamabad police for protesting against human rights abuses in Balochistan,” she said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2023

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