Eyewitness accounts of Shia genocide in Gilgit and Chilas – by Shujat Hussain Mesam

Related posts: Congratulations on Chilas victory – by Riaz Malik

What exactly happened with Shia passengers in Chilas? – by Ali Raza

What happened in Chilas: An interview with a Skardu-based educationalist – by Nakvisson

On Tuesday, 3 April 2012, at least six passenger buses were stopped by Al Qaeda affiliated Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) militants in Bonar Das area in Chilas (Gilgit Baltistan), passengers were segregated by checking their identity documents, those found or believed to be Shia Muslims were shot dead and many other Shias were kidnapped.

The current massacre in Chilas is the sequel of the February 2012 incident when ASWJ-SSP militants stopped buses and vans travelling to Gilgit on the Karakoram Highway in Kohistan, verified the identity of the passengers before killing 16 members of the Shia community. In a similar incident in September 2011, at least 29 Shia Muslims, mostly of Hazara ethnicity, were killed in Mastung area of Balochistan after the ASWJ militants attacked their bus and killed all Shia passengers after verifying their sectarian identity.

Pakistani state (both Pakistan army and government) is making an all out effort to block information from Gilgit Baltistan to the rest of Pakistan and international community. Upon advice by Pakistan army (ISI in particular), Pakistan government has instructed the print and electronic media to refrain from using words such as “Shia killing” or “Shia genocide” and instead use a false neutral term “sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shias”. The aim is to cover up the state-sponsored Shia genocide currently taking place in Pakistan.

On the directives of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, phone services and wireless communications were jammed in Gilgit on Wednesday, 4 April 2012, bringing communication to a standstill.

Given that Pakistani media is under instruction to refrain from reporting the full scale and extent of Shia genocide, there is very little published information on what actually happened in Chilas.

For ordinary readers, it is very difficult to get the right information about how many people have died in recent Shia massacres in Gilgit-Baltistan. Some put the numbers as high as 80.

However, there are people who have received information from eye witnesses about the massacre of Shias in Chilas.

One person is Shujat Hussain Mesam of Gilgit Baltistan region who has recorded statements of three witnesses who were riding the buses which were attacked in Chilas. The passengers were interviewed by Hussain’s father, who is a retired government employee.

One eyewitness, Aslam, is a 30 year old male who provided the following details:

About three thousand (3,000) fully armed assailants intercepted a convoy of 25 buses. They pulled all the passengers down. After confiscating the luggage, the buses were then set on fire. It appeared to be all pre-planned and even the police and administration present there were either helping the assailants directly or turned a blind eye throughout the entire episode of bloodshed and mayhem.

The assailants had set up a makeshift tent to host those (mostly Sunnis) who were going to be released later. The male Shia passengers were then lined up. The gunmen checked their ID cards and shot and killed many on the spot. Many bodies were riddled with bullets. Those who ran for life were then attacked by the mob with stones and bricks and killed them in that manner. The assailants pelting stones were laughing and high fiving each other upon hitting the target.

A large number of Shias were also taken hostage and may be still alive. The estimated the death toll is no less than sixty (60), while at least another sixty (60) went missing. I (Aslam) was not carrying an ID card and remained associated with a Sunni family as the kind hearted elderly male guardian claimed me to be his son. Those males believed to be non-Shias were then sent to the tent along with females and the children. Later, they were sent to the house of Haji Abdul Aziz, where they were offered refreshment. At some point, the police arrived at Haji’s house and escorted me and other passengers to the few remaining buses which then took them to Gilgit.

Another survivor, Zakir – a 22 year old Shia male, said:

My bus was first to arrive at Buner farm, where the assailants had gathered. I claimed to be a Sunni student without an ID card upon which the assailants hurled me towards a government building along with two old ladies and three girls. There, I was able to call my family members and also contacted an influential government official in Chilas, who was later instrumental in saving my life. The official sent his police guards who escorted me away. After spending the night at the officer’s residence, I was then sent to Gilgit in a helicopter with the dead bodies of Shias. From there, I reached my hometown Skardo. The man (a Shia) sitting next to me in the bus showed his ID card to the assailants and was subsequently killed.

Ilyas is the third survivor and eyewitness who stated the following:

I was assisting some ladies from Khapulo during the bus journey. As the attackers approached me, one of the ladies claimed me to be his son and a Noorbakhshi by faith from Khapulo. This way, I was able to save my life with the help of that kind and brave lady.

Once the assailants were done with the passengers at Buner farm, they then marched towards Gilgit. The military personnel stopped the mob at Juglote and refused further advance. Juglote is only 40 kilometers from Gilgit city. At the same time, Shias of Nagar retaliated by taking 19 Sunnis hostage. Further, thousands of men of Nagar valley marched towards Gilgit and Chilas to protect and avenge the death of innocent Shias. They were stopped by military personnel at Danyor from where they could not march any further.

Despite curfew, exchange of heavy gun fire continues in Gilgit city. Many people have got injured as well as died of gun shots but exact numbers are not known. In absence of proper rescue and first aid facilities, and imposition of curfew, the number of deaths could increase. The main hospital has run short of medicine while residents have no access to food supplies. Life has come to a complete halt in Gilgit city yet government opts to act as bystanders.

Dominated by Sunni Deobandi elites of Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, Pakistani media, civil society, NGOs and human rights groups continue to ignore the plight of Shias of Gilgit Baltistan. In a rare relay of facts on ground, Express Tribune published this grim picture of life in Gilgit under Pakistan army’s curfew:

When Gilgit shut down after the recent violence, 20 children, all under the age of 12, found themselves stranded at a house with limited supplies, and a single caretaker. Violence broke out Tuesday morning and schools asked children to head back home. A group of 20 children, however, found themselves in the middle of heavy shelling in Khomer area, and sought refuge at a temporary shelter. They entered the house of a former engineer, Muhammad Hussain, who had died recently. According to a neighbour, who informed The Express Tribune about the incident on Wednesday, there was one woman in the house to take care of all of them. Food supplies have almost exhausted and with communications systems jammed, and the city under a strict curfew, the children have been stranded for almost three days now. The parents of the children may have no way of knowing where they have been for the last three days, the neighbour said.

Infant in danger
Meanwhile, parents of a 9-month-old boy suffering from kidney failure have appealed to authorities to allow them to go to Islamabad immediately. “The infant needs urgent medication, which is only possible if he is evacuated to the federal capital,” Mansoor Wali, father of the child and a resident of Kashrote told The Express Tribune. He appealed to the authorities to let him go to Islamabad through a military or PIA aircraft immediately. He said that last night he managed to take the child to a Gilgit hospital where doctors advised that the child is shifted to a hospital in Islamabad. “That is only possible if the authorities provide a seat in an army aircraft from Gilgit to Islamabad,” he said. http://tribune.com.pk/story/360534/unsuspecting-victims-gilgit-violence-leaves-20-children-stranded/

According to ISPR, army troops have reached in Gilgit and controlled the situation. The same army troops which routinely protect and train ASWJ-SSP militants and also ensure their safe acquittal or escape from Pakistani courts are brutally suppressing local Shia population of Gilgit-Baltistan whose only crime is that they were protesting against Shia genocide.

The mothers, sisters and daughters have shed all the tears they had. The children cannot sleep due to nightmares. But the bloody coffins continue to arrive with each passing day. The aged fathers have no strength in their shoulders to carry all those coffins to the graves.

Through its implicit role in the formation of anti-Shia alliance Difa-e-Pakistan Council which provided the anti-Shia militant group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (also known as Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan) an opportunity to reorganize and recruit more militants, Pakistan army has enabled further Shia genocide in Pakistan. Pakistan’s judiciary routinely releases dangerous Jihadi-sectarian terrorists involved in Shia massacres. Pakistani media, civil society NGOs and human rights groups continue to remain silent on Shia genocide, or worse, misrepresent it as Sunni-Shia sectarian violence ignoring the fact that majority of Sunnis have dissociated from anti-Shia militant groups.

The current wave of Shia massacres in Gilgit Baltistan cannot be seen in isolation from the country-wide Shia genocide which is taking place in Pakistan since 1960s and which became state supported and systematic since 1977 when an Islamofascist dictator General Zia-ul-Haq imposed martial law in Pakistan. Pakistan army and judiciary have shown their real face as the supporters of terrorists and extremists. The politicians too seem to have sold the interest of their nation for personal or political favors by the all powerful military-judiciary establishment.

Here is an account of how a Pakistani newspaper holds Pakistan army backed non-state actors (Jihadi-sectarian militants) for anti-Shia violence in Gilgit Baltistan: Shia genocide in Gilgit Baltistan and the role of army-sponsored non-state actors

In a recent statement, World Shia Forum (WSF) has expressed concern over the ongoing Shia genocide in different parts of Pakistan, particularly in Gilgit, Karachi and Quetta.

The Shia massacre has exposed the artificiality of the so called two nation theory. It is now the responsibility of the United Nations and other regional and international players to pay close attention to plight of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan whose lives and fundamental human rights must be protected.

Update: Video of Chilas Shia massacre


Source: Senge Sering, Institute for Gilgit Baltistan Studies, Washington DC, DC, 202 689 0647

Pictures of some of the Shias killed in Chilas on 3 April 2012

They were first brutally tortured, then killed with stones. Acid was thrown on some of the slain Shias to burn them alive. ISI trained and prepared Jihadi-Doebandis for proxy war in Kashmir and Afghansitan, they are using ISI’s training to brutally kill Shia Muslims in Pakistan.


LUBP Editor’s note:

We note with concern that some innocent Sunni Muslims have been kidnapped in reaction to the Chilas massacre. We urge Shia activists to refrain from harming innocent citizens of any faith or sect. Shias are being killed not by Sunnis but by State-sponsored ASWJ-SSP militants, who for Shias are enemy combatants. It is the responsibility of not only government of Pakistan but also local majority population to ensure safety and security of all communities including Sunni and Shia Muslims. No non-combatant must be harassed or hurt.

According to Express Tribune, more than 20 people, reportedly Sunnis, went missing in Nagar valley on Tuesday, and are yet to be traced. They were kidnapped in reaction to the Chilas incident, where about 10 Shia passengers were killed. Three of the missing people, including District Health Officer Rasheed, Civil Judge Inayat and Bank Manager Habib, were reportedly abducted by armed men from the vehicle of regional Finance Minister Mohammad Ali Akhtar in Nagar Valley. According to Bank manager Rashid’s family, he had last contacted them at about 1:45 pm on Tuesday and since then his phone has been switched off. The Hunza-Nagar district deputy commissioner told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that investigations were underway to recover the missing persons.

According to The News, unidentified gunmen abducted about 20 workers of two flourmills in Hunza following the sectarian clashes in Gilgit-Baltistan, sources said on Thursday. The sources said some 30 gunmen stormed the Hunza Flour Mills and Gojaal Flour Mills in Hasanabad area of Hunza and kidnapped 20 workers.They said that 12 labourers belonged to Shangla district while others hailed from Punjab. The kidnapped workers from Shangla district include Faridoon, Sher Alam, Bakht Alam, Sadiqullah, Muhammad Jan, Qismat Gul, Salman, Ahmad, Abdul Wahid, Din Muhammad, Naseebzada and Nizar Alam.The reports suggested that the kidnapped workers had been shifted to Nagar locality, which was the stronghold of a sectarian outfit.

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