A few days ago before her suspicious death, Hammal Haidar, the husband of Karima Baloch had ironically retweeted a news like this.
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Transcript of the Podcast:
Karima Baloch was a Balochistan freedom fighter and a Pakistani dissident. She was living in exile in Canada since 2016. Last month, her body was found in a river in the city of Toronto, Canada. She was only 37.
Police said there were “not believed to be any suspicious circumstances”.
But here’s her story.
Karima was a vocal critic of the Pakistani military and state and was routinely speaking against the persecution of Baloch people on their own land. She was raising her voice for the 1000’s and 1000’s of men and women that are kidnapped or killed on a daily basis.
Where is Balochistan and what’s the big deal about it?
Balochistan is the largest province of Pakistan and also home to the ethnical minority of Baloch people. Balochistan has been leading an independence movement for a long time to free itself from the occupation of Pakistan. The military endorses forced disappearances of those who speak against the Pakistan military.
This long-running separatist insurgency has forced its citizens to pick up arms to defend their land and their livelihood.
Karima first became an activist in 2005, when she attended a protest over missing persons carrying a picture of one of her missing relatives. She eventually went onto become the first female head of the Baloch Students’ Organisation (BSO) – a banned activist group.
Soon open activism in Pakistan had become impossible for her and Pakistan levelled terrorism charges against her. In 2016, she applied for asylum in Canada which was first rejected. The grounds were “subversion against the Pakistani government”. It was later granted.
In the same year, 2016, Karima was named as BBC’s 100 most inspirational and influential women for her work in human rights.
Since moving to Canada, Baloch had continued to be the voice of human right violations in and around Balochistan by the Pakistan military.
She had been trolled and has been receiving death threats from unknown Pakistani numbers on WhatsApp until her death. As recent as Christmas, she had a warning that someone would send her a “Christmas gift” to teach her a lesson.
Yet, the Canada police have ruled Karima’s death a “non-criminal death”.
And here’s the point. Like so many Pakistani dissidents that go missing or hunted to death, the same brothers and sisters that Karima was raising her voice for, Karima seems like she was hunted to death. Baloch activists who raise a voice for the fundamental rights of their fellow Balochis routinely get silenced through violent means.
Karima is the second Pakistani dissident from Balochistan living in exile to be found dead in 2020. In May of 2020, Sajid Hussain, a journalist who wrote about human rights violations in Balochistan, was found dead in a river in Sweden, where he had sought asylum after threats to his life in Pakistan.
So, here’s are my questions.
Just how many Karimas will have to die before nations around the world will start granting its citizens their basic right to live a life of freedom and liberty?
If the first world is not immune to such covert violence, then where in the world are we guaranteed free speech.
I want us to think and thank all our heroes who’re laying their lives for us, so we can live in a better, safer world. Thank you.