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Pakistan: The Long March under threat

Pakistan: The Long March in support of the families of victims of enforced disappearances is under threat and the government is preparing to halt the marchers by force

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received reports that Mama Qadeer, the organiser of the Long March from Balochistan to Islamabad, the purpose of which is to urge the Pakistani government to do something about the ongoing enforced disappearances of Balochi activists is receiving death threats.

The marchers have now reached an area just ten miles outside of Wazirabad and Qadeer and his supporters, Qadeer Baloch and Banuk Farzana Majeed Baloch addressed the crowd and explained to them about the situation of Baloch and Long March.

Mama Qadeer informed his supporters that he had received serious threatening phone calls from an unknown number. The caller stated categorically that a decision has been taken that the march will not be allowed to enter into Pindi. The person stated that all preparations have already been made to ensure that the march is stopped before hand. The caller told Mama that the march should return rather than continue and that Mama Qadeer would not be allowed to present his demands before the UN in "anyway shape or form".

At the time of writing the marchers are resting near Wazirabad and the police patrols that surround them have increased dramatically. For the first time it has been noticed that a contingent of lady police is also present (such a contingent of lady policewomen is only brought when women have to be arrested or controlled). The presence of this lady contingent is causing great anxiety amongst the marchers as it appears that there may be an attempt to halt the march with force.

The AHRC joins Mama Qadeer and his supporters in appealing to civil society and progressive organisations for support and solidarity. Mama Qadeer is calling on human rights organisations and political parties to make immediate press statements to allow the march to proceed peacefully to Islamabad. He is appealing to members of the press that the march is peaceful and non-violent and is raising a just demand. The press and media of the country as well as the international community must take immediate notice of the imminent danger to the marchers.

The government of Pakistan must be made aware that if something were to happen to Mama Qadeer and his companions and supporters the situation in Balochistan will definitely take a more violent turn. These are unarmed civilians in a peaceful march for the rule of law. Hence, it is vital that the march is not only protected but that it be allowed to exercise its democratic right of reaching its destination and presenting its demands to the United Nations for the whereabouts of the missing persons.

Finally, the AHRC calls for volunteers who would protect the marcher and provide them with badly needed assistance from Wazirabad onwards.

The AHRC has been reporting on the situation of the disappearances in Balochistan for several years now and has covered the Long March, its aims and the tribulations faced by the marchers since its beginning. For further information please refer to the following statements:

Pakistan: The Long March against disappearances and extrajudicial killings in Balochistan commences

Pakistan: The Long Marchers have completed 700 km and entered Karachi after travelling 27 days on foot

Pakistan: The second phase of the 1,400 km Long March has started

Pakistan: Second phase of Long March for Baloch missing persons covered 600 kilo meters -- the government withdraws security

Pakistan: The lives of the long marchers are in danger

ENDS

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