Zakir Majid Baloch was picked up from Mastung, Pakistan three years ago, on his way to a university where he was enrolled as an MA English student. As Senior Vice Chairman of the Baloch Student Organization, Azad, his family blames Pakistani security forces for his disappearance. He was never heard from again.
Zakir's disappearance, and the disappearance 14,000 other political activists in Balochistan, was the focus of Baloch people living in Toronto last Sunday. They converged in downtown Toronto, next to the CBC building, last Sunday to commemorate the International Day of the Disappeared and bring attention to their people's plight. These kidnappings and killings happen in the context of Balochistan's struggle against for independence within Pakistan, one of the most under-reported independence stuggles in the Western world.
Baloch, Sindhi, and Kashmiri community members took part in the peaceful protest and expressed their solidarity with the people of Balochistan, which is the province in Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran. The peaceful protesters carried placards and chanted slogans against the Pakistani authorities and demanded immediate end to atrocities committed against the Baloch people.
While the CBC failed to report the protest, Toronto-based radio station CBRF 10/10 broadcasted a live coverage of the event along with a special interview with Zaffar Baloch, President, Baloch Human Rights Council (Canada). "The human rights violations in Balochistan by the Pakistani authorities as part of the subjugation process of a state to completely annihilate all forms of resistance of a people," Zaffar said. He emphasized that this made it impossible to sustain a meaningful identity and an honourable life. He also advocated that the Canadian government get actively involved and assert pressure on Pakistan to unconditionally release all the illegally disappeared persons in Balochistan.
The largest Baloch expatriate community in North America exists within the greater Toronto area, which includes Baloch from Afghanistan and Iran. Convinced that the key to ending the abuses in their homeland, they vow to continue the work of educating people in Canada about the abuses that their people suffer as they struggle for liberation and autonomy from the Pakistani state.