Pakistan

Baloch Yakjehti Committee Ends Month-Long Protest in Islamabad

The Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), a group of activists advocating for the rights of the Baloch people, announced on Tuesday that they have ended their month-long sit-in protest outside the National Press Club (NPC) in Islamabad. The protest, which began on December 20, 2023, was aimed at drawing attention to the issues of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan.

Dr. Mahrang Baloch, one of the organizers of the protest, stated that the protesters are returning to Balochistan from Islamabad. She also announced plans for a rally in Balochistan on January 27.

The decision to end the protest came a day after the NPC lodged a complaint with the Kohsar Police Station, requesting the removal of the Baloch protesters from the open park in front of the NPC. The NPC administration cited security concerns and financial losses as reasons for their request. They stated that the presence of the protesters had deterred political and social personalities from attending functions at the NPC.

In the previous month, the Islamabad police had launched a crackdown on the Baloch protesters, leading to the dismantling of their camps outside the NPC and the arrest of most of the protesters. This action sparked widespread outcry across the country. The government initially defended the crackdown, declaring it a necessary measure to avoid a "catastrophe". However, following public outcry, all Baloch protesters were released after a week-long detention.

Earlier this month, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued orders instructing local authorities and police to refrain from creating any hindrance or using force to remove the Baloch marchers. Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued the orders in response to a petition filed by Baloch activist Sammi Deen Baloch, who was also among the protesting families in Islamabad. The petition was filed against harassment and attempts to forcibly remove the marchers.

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