Sindhi Foundation organized a protest on enforced disappearance happening in Sindh, Pakistan, infront of the Pakistani ambassadors house in Washington DC on August 14th, which is also Pakistans’ Independence Day.
Human Rights violations in Sindh, Pakistan, have been neglected for ages. Human rights abuses like extrajudicial killings, political repression, persecution of Sindhi political activists, arbitrary arrests, torture, have increased over these years. Human rights activists, some politicians, members of the World Sindhi Congress have expressed concern over the surge in state-run violations of human rights in Sindh. Enforced disappearances is one such atrocity that Sindhis are facing from past several years.
Enforced disappearances is defined as arrest, detention, abduction for any other form of the deprivation of liberty carried out by state officials, persons, or groups of individuals acting with permission or support of the state or whether its consent. Enforced disappearances is followed by a refusal to recognize deprivation of liberty and concealment of the fate or whereabout of the disappeared person. There are several cases of enforced disappearances as well as protests about the same in Sindh, Pakistan. Hundreds of individuals in Sindh are forcibly disappeared, among them were mainly writers, student activists, human rights activists. According to the Human rights Commission of Pakistan, over 700 individuals went missing in 2016 alone!
Sindhi Foundation and Sindhi Community in the United States of America are working towards to bring the attention of the media about the escalation of abductions and enforced disappearances of Sindhis by government officials in Pakistan. Sindhi Foundation started the where is campaign in 2017 when Punhal Sario (Convener Voice of Missing Persons Sindh) was abducted. This initiative by Sindhi Foundation has become a movement now and people from all walks of life including few US representatives have joined the movement. Thousands of people are sharing thevideos with names of victims of enforced disappearances on different social media outlets.
During a protest against enforced disappearances held on Saturday August 1 (2020), infront of Pakistani ambassadors house in Washington D.C. Munawar Laghari , Executive Director of Sindhi Foundation said, I want to tell the people in Sindh who are being tortured by the Pakistani authorities, struggling to fight for their basic human rights, that you are not alone, I am with you.I also want to tell the families of the victims of enforced disappearances – that we are not weak, we are strong and if we all stand united for Sindh, we will find them and free them all.
The enforced disappearances of hundreds of Sindhis during the past few years has been a cause of grave concern for every member of Sindhi community. Talking to the media recently, some of the victims’ families described how they were brutally beaten, and their loved ones were taken away forcibly. Neither women nor animals were spared from the brutal bashings of the so-called police. These policemen imposed themselves as medical staff under the context that they are visiting for a Covid -19 checkup. When they got the chance, they pushed their way inside the homes of the innocent families, snatching their loved ones away. These innocent families have seen it all happen before their own eyes. However, receiving justice, a question that remains uncertain for these families, as they don’t even know if an FIR (first information report) was lodged. Police mafias and guns threatening to fire if an abduction is resisted has now become a familiar scenario for the Sindhis in Pakistan. With the police itself involved in such cases, the poor have nowhere to hide nor a door to knock and seek justice. Where will they go? What will they do? How will they bring their loved ones back? These are some of the hard-hitting questions that are asked by the Sindhis in Pakistan and the answers to them are yet to be found.