Justice (Rtd) MajidaRazvi
Chairperson, Human Rights Development
Government of Sindh
Barrack number 92 Sindh Secretariat
4. B, opposite to Sindh Assembly Building
Karachi
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92 21 99207042-43
Fax: +92 21 99207044
E-mail: [email protected]

Dear Chairperson,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human rights defender and Freelance journalist.

I would like to draw your attention to the following case.

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the disappearance of a fisher folk leader after his arrest by the Pakistan Rangers. A noted human rights activist, labor unionist and movement leader, Mr. Saeed Baloch, 52, was “invited” for questioning by the Pakistan Rangers last Saturday afternoon, and has been detained since, allegedly for financing gang wars in the Sindh provincial capital. However, when media contacted the Pakistan Rangers headquarters at Karachi, the spokesperson denied his arrest and said that he is no more with the Rangers. The Sindh police also deny his arrest. After his arrest, Mr. Baloch was able to inform his colleagues over phone that he had been taken into custody of the Rangers. Since then, his cell is not responding. No charges have been framed against him to date.

Mr. Baloch is the elected Secretary General of a social movement, the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), member of the executive council of World Fisher People (an umbrella of world’s fishermen organisations), Secretary General of the workers’ union of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society (FCS), member of Human Rights of Pakistan (HRCP) and a number of other national and international forums that work for human rights, peoples movements, climate justice etc. The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) is a powerful social movement, with more than 70,000 members across four million fisherfolk communities in the country.

I am aware that Mr. Saeed has been working for the rights of the fisher folk and challenging/confronting a number of state policies and those of the Fisherman’s Cooperative Society. The FCS has become notorious for its fund embezzlement and human trafficking, organized crimes in connivance with the Pakistan Rangers. Mr. Saeed has time and again raised his voice against the corruption which resulted in his arrest.

Mr. Saeed has also been raising his voice through the platform of union workers and PFF against the corrupt administration/management of FCS. Together with other union leaders he also approached the Chief Secretary of Sindh to express his concerns about the mismanagement of the FCS. During the recent move of Pakistan Rangers against corruption and terrorism, some high officials including the acting Chairman of FCS were arrested by the Rangers.

I am dismayed that under the guise of ‘terrorism’, Saeed Baloch is being punished for being a political activist and human rights advocate. Like in many other instances, his disappearance reveals the dangers of handing over sweeping powers to military, paramilitary and law enforcement authorities under the draconian Anti-Terrorist and Protection of Pakistan Acts (PPA). Instead of actually tackling the material and ideological infrastructure of terrorism in the country, the authorities routinely abuse their powers to target those engaged in resistance to injustice and inequality.

You are aware that Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights details the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention, and spells out the procedure to be followed in case of arrest and detention. It is unfortunate that the said safeguards fail to protect the citizens of Pakistan from atrocities of the military and intelligence agencies. I urge you to take immediate action to recover Mr. Baloch and take strict action against those responsible for his disappearance.

I further urge you to take steps to ensure the repeal of regressive laws such as the PPA.

I look forward to your prompt action in this matter.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes

Human Rights Defender &  Freelance Journalist

Twitter @wnicholasgomes

Email: [email protected]

www.facebook.com/williamnicholasgomes

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.