Baloch protesters end months-long sit-in citing harassment

Baloch protesters

ISLAMABAD: Baloch protesters, encamped outside Islamabad’s National Press Club (NPC) since December, announced to end their sit-in on Tuesday, citing pressure and alleged harassment.

The decision followed a request by the National Press Club to Islamabad police for the removal of the Baloch protesters’ camp, a move later retracted amid widespread criticism, including from journalists.

Organized by the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), the sit-in aimed to address enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.

Despite adverse weather conditions, the camp, established on December 22, endured.

Organizers accused the police of harassing and profiling their supporters, lodging first information reports against them.

Earlier, in a letter to Islamabad police, the NPC sought a plan to relocate the protesters, citing impediments to press conferences, seminars, and the local business community’s activities.

Dr Mahrang Baloch, the protest leader, expressed disappointment, stressing the obligation of the journalist and media community to support those whose voices are overlooked.

In a late-night press conference, she revealed the pressure to vacate the camp, citing harassment, threats, and the circulation of false information by the police.

During a subsequent press conference, Mahrang labeled the NPC’s letter a “stain” on journalism, vowing to remember the received animosity. The protesters planned to return to Balochistan the next day.

Asserting they are not against the state but that the state opposes them, Mahrang emphasized the Baloch protesters’ attempts to engage with authorities on the issue of missing persons.

Despite ongoing election campaigns, she criticized political parties for their silence on the matter.

Earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressed solidarity with the Baloch camp, condemning harassment and efforts to dismantle it. The commission underscored the legitimacy of the protestors’ demands, urging their recognition without undue force or defamation.

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