|From October 2013 until the end of February 2014 people walked nearly 3000 kilometers from Quetta to Islamabad in harsh weather conditions as a democratic protest against enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings taking place in Balochistan, Pakistan. The historic march is organized by the Voice of the Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), an organization that fights the heinous crime of enforced disappearances.
Balochistan is Pakistan largest and resource-rich province, located in the South-West of Pakistan. The secular Baloch people have been suppressed by Islamabad for decades. Since 2005, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and extra-judicial killings have become a daily threat. The Voice of the Baloch Missing Persons campaigns for the release of their loved ones, and aims to find out the truth behind the disappearances. By doing this, they put themselves at risk of being targeted.
In order to achieve their goals, the VBMP started their nearly 3000 kilometer long march from Quetta in Balochistan in October. When they arrived after 27 days of walking in Karachi and after a hunger strike there, they had not received the media coverage they hoped for. In mid-December they continued the march to Islamabad, where they arrived on February 28.
The march consisted of about 100 Baloch activists; women, children and men. The marchers faced bribe attempts, threats and harassment that aimed to put an end to the long March. While common people offered them water, food, and a place to stay, government agencies threatened them. Upon their arrival in Islamabad, Mama Qadeer Baloch, 72, who led the Long March, demanded the recovery of the missing persons. He said that if the government fails to recover them, they would launch another protest drive.
One of the marchers was 10-year-old Ali Haider, whose father has been missing since 2010, abducted by gunmen in two cars. Some released detainees told his family that they had seen the father in detention, and so he believes his father his still alive. After the march, he said that "My father is in a prison. He is in pain. But we at home are in more pain."
The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) has been working with representatives from Balochistan to stop the ongoing human rights. The UNPO is also trying to put an end to enforced disappearances globally. In January 2013 the UNPO together with MEP Weidenholzer convened a conference titled 'Enforced Disappearances: Tackling An Invisble Crime' at the European Parliament.