‘Voice must be raised for all missing persons as selective outcry won’t do’
Though the return of the four bloggers who had gone missing earlier this month has come as a relief to many, Pakistani activists were reminded on Monday that there were countless others who had yet to return home.
“Our efforts were fruitful but this doesn’t in any way guarantee the return of thousands of activists who have gone missing across the country,” said Khurram Ali of the Awami Jamhoori Mahaz at a meeting held at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s office.
“Rather, we need to take our struggle forward for the release of all others who have been abducted,” he added.
The meeting, which was attended by activists and HRCP members, discussed the future course of action and maintained that the cause would not be abandoned because there were many who were yet to be released.
“We also need to realise that we can’t remain silent on the actions of those who abduct these people and release them. The abductors must be taken to court and tried because enforced disappearances are now taking place regularly,” said Kabir Ali, an activist of the National Students Federation (NSF), Karachi.
“We all have the right to know who is behind these enforced disappearances,” he added.
“Serious efforts must be vested into the collection of data about missing persons because there are many families whose loved ones are yet to return. They are pinning their hopes on the authorities because they don’t even know about the phenomenon of enforced disappearances.”
Dr Riaz Ahmad, a Professor at the University of Karachi, felt that the plight of activists and political workers including Professor Zafar Arif of the MQM-London, who have been booked on charges that lack credibility, must also be addressed.
NSF activist Laila Raza urged that it was high time that all activists let go of selective outcry over enforced disappearances. “We need to change our attitude towards the issue of missing persons and realise that we mustn’t put a stop to our efforts. We shouldn’t wait for someone prominent to be picked up to raise our voice,” she added.
It was also pointed out that an activist, Armgham Mehmood, was picked up in Cantt, Lahore on December 7, 2016 and he has not returned home yet.
An attendee pointed out that given that a close eye was being kept on the activities of social media activists, the agreements of social networking websites with the government also needed to be made public.
The participants of the meeting concluded that the efforts against enforced disappearances should be sped up and awareness created in all provinces so that all activists could be on the same page.