Journalism and the plight of Baloch – by Mureed Bizenjo

Source: Pakistan Blogzine

Not a single day passes without abduction, torture, arrests and enforced disappearances of the Baloch people in the largest but the most underprivileged province of Balochistan by the state-run institutions, military and Para-military forces.  Journalists in Balochistan are cleverly monitored, either threatened or forced to halt their activities if their publications happen to go beyond the content of journalism defined by the state. If not that, their bullet-riddled tortured or headless bodies may be found somewhere on the roadside. Studies by the nonprofit committee to protect journalists reveal that 16 journalists were killed in 2010, and 9 have died so far in 2011. The state perpetrates all the brutalities over the baloch and uses all the tools of a colonial master including cessation of online journalism and social media to make sure nothing gets reported.

Media which people greatly depend on to keep moving in the right direction plays a vital role to represent a backward nation; the role of media becomes even more significant in an area which has been a victim of state terrorism. Because of the state repression the absence of sincere baloch media is greatly felt in Balochistan. The one’s that exist which are fully aware of Baloch culture, history and their problems are over-looked and face stoppage of advertisements, this proved true when Daily Asaap urdu language newspaper of Balochistan was forcibly closed and assassination attempts on the editor in chief (Jan Muhammad Dashti) were made.

Daily Asaap on its last publication stated on its front page “With absolute pain and sorrow, we wish to inform the respected readers of Asaap and the Baloch people that our office in Quetta has been under siege by the Frontier Corps (FC) and security forces for the past two weeks. These forces were busy in humiliating every visitor and staff member who came to our office. Asaap is the only newspaper [in Pakistan] where security forces have been deployed. These forces are engaged in regular search and harassment of staff members and visitors Asaap is being strangulated. We know with the closure of this newspaper, the voices of Baloch people will not be heard in the print media as loudly as was done in the past [Source]

The closure of Asaap wasn’t the last move by the state, other leading newspapers in Balochistan were also besieged, harassed, and victimized by the para-military forces, including Daily azadi, Daily Tawar, Balochistan Express, Daily Ustaman and the list goes on. The para-military forces in Balochistan are seemingly ordained to curb Baloch’s right to self determination and freedom of expression. Is it what they get paid for? Such actions of the military and state are unprecedented in any civilized, liberal and modern country.

With the advent of information technology and social media, In recent years many baloch journalists started online newspaper websites and blogs, the state atrocities further aggravated to assault the plight of Baloch journalists and online activists, Pakistan government decided to ban 70 baloch newspapers and news portals including The Baloch HalCrisis Balochistan, Baloch Voice, The Baluch, Baloch Warna, Baloch Media, allegedly inciting misinformation and pursuing a critical approach of military operation and gross human rights violations committed by Pakistan army against the secular forces in the resource-rich province. Though there are few news reports on what is happening in Balochistan, Pakistan establishment targets those journalists and websites who attempt to highlight Pakistan’s brutalities in the region.

Today another Baloch website Balochi News the first balochi language online newspaper which receives the largest number of hits from Baloch all over the world, went through a temporary closure and monitoring, Balochi News was inaccessible at 3:00 PST and remained closed for 3 hours, the URL was directed to another page which read ‘inaccessible’ however the website was up and running when used with a proxy. UK based Waleed Gabrooni who is the publisher of Balochi News and also the administrator of Baask Facebook group which has 1400 members started the website in October 10th 2006, ever since the website has been reporting stories on various issues and depicting the true heritage in Balochi language.

Incidents of violation of human rights are on rise in Balochistan, The so called democratic government in Pakistan is unaware of the fact that it is impossible to deprive people of their right of expression in 21st century the educated and liberal youth in Balochistan is committed to put their perspective in front of the global audience.  The state atrocities against the non-combatant activists and secular civilians must immediately be stopped and right to self-determination and freedom of expressions be respected by all means.



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