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International Women’s Day and role of Baloch women

Shawn Forbes

20131213_162623On the International Women’s Day I ask everyone to join me in celebrating the extensive accomplishments of the inspirational and influential women activists from the turbulent region of Balochistan. 

Women like Voice for Baloch Missing Person’s General Secretary Farzana Majeed Baloch has remarkable role as human rights activist .Farzana  Majeed Baloch was an accomplished student, holding a MSC in chemistry and a BA in Balochi.  Five years ago, Farzana’s younger brother and Baloch Student organization leader Zakir Majeed Baloch was unlawfully abducted by in Mastung.  Zakir Majeed Baloch was a 27 year old English student at the Lasbela University of Agriculture, Water and Marine Sciences.  After his abduction in 2009 Farzana Majeed Baloch began a crusade for his safe release.  She went before regional courts and supreme courts to petition for her brother’s release, yet was turned away.  When the courts refused to help, Farzana Majeed took up peaceful protest.  Several times she staged hunger strike demonstrations at the Islamabad supreme courts, but to no avail.  After all avenues of legal action had been exhuased, Farzana Majeed Baloch joined the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Long March for Justice.

Farzana Majeed Baloch, alongside Banok Sammi Baloch, Banok Saba Baloch, 11 year old Ali Haider Baloch, 9 year old Bewarg Baloch and Voice for Baloch Missing Persons Vice-Chairman Mama Qadeer, and a few other participants braved nearly 3000 km of rugged desolate Pakistani desert highways in protest of the enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan.  After more than 100 days of marching; the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons’ Long March finally reached Islamabad.  Since their arrival in Islamabad, they have staged demonstrations and protests as well as meeting with journalists, ambassadors, and international delegations.

Women like Farzana Majeed Baloch continue to inspire people around the world to demand basic human rights and civil liberty.  Throughout the past five years, Farzana  Majeed has overcome incredible adversity through her continued resilience and persistence.  Despite threats to the Long March protestors, vehicular attacks and even Police interference, Farzana remained steadfast in her quest to demand accountability for her brother and the over 20,000 other victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.

Another well known Baloch activist is Baloch Republican Party Women’s Wing Organizer Banuk Horan Baloch.  Banuk Horan founded the Woman’s Wing of BRP in 2012 and has quickly gained a great deal of support.    Baloch Republican Party Women’s Wing now maintains chapters in Quetta, Mastung, Gwadar, Turbat, Karchi and Tump.  Banuk Horan Baloch has become an influential and integral part of the liberation movement.

Banuk Horan Baloch has participated in countless demonstrations and protests against Pakistan’s relentless military attacks upon the citizens of Balochistan.  In April 2013 target killers attempted to assassinate Banuk Horan Baloch.  Unidentified Gunmen indiscriminately fired upon her family home.  Although her home was damaged, Banuk Horan and her family were unharmed.  Despite the violent attempt on her life, Banuk Horan Baloch continued her struggle to generate awareness of the severe human rights abuses being perpetrated by forces in Balochistan.  In addition to organizing and holding protests, Banuk Horan continues to appeal to international human rights organizations.

Banuk Horan Baloch, Farzana Majeed Baloch, Banuk Karema Baloch, Banuk Zarina Marri, and so many other Baloch women activists are plying significant role in Baloch movement.  Through their brave deeds and continued efforts, the heroic Women of Balochistan stand as brilliant examples of the greatness one can achieve even amidst oppression and adversity.

Published in The Balochistan Point on March 8, 2014

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