The Pakistan army has allegedly been involved in the abduction, forced disappearances, torture and forced organ harvesting of people living in ethnic areas of Balochistan, report Organiser. The report claims that corpses of such ethnic minorities are wrapped by the army in white cloth and family members are prevented from seeing anything other than the face. Such dead bodies are buried with missing organs.
Reportedly, the army would earlier bury the dead in ‘secluded places’. However, after allegations of forced organ harvesting have come to light, such bodies are now buried in the presence of family members. The report claims that the army covers the bodies such that the stitch marks are not visible to the family. Interestingly, the army also does not allow post-mortem to be conducted on such dead bodies.
Cases of Organ Harvesting in Balochistan
One such case was that of a man named Gurham Baloch. Followed his abduction by the Pakistan army, his corpse was returned after two days to the family for burial. However, the last rites were performed under the watch of the army officials. According to local correspondents who investigated the matter, essential organs were harvested from the body of the deceased. Gurham was arrested along with two others on Feb 22, 2019, from Herronk in Kech district. He worked as a labourer and hailed from a poor family.
When the Pakistani Army raided his house, he had gone to the local market. Following the interrogation of family members, the military officials asked them to call the victim. On reaching home, Gurham was arrested along with his two brothers. They were shifted to a nearby army camp where all of them were tortured.
While the two brothers were released, Gurham’s dead body was carried to their house in army cars. As per the modus operandi, the family members were not allowed to see his body. A local anonymously revealed, “Only his face was disclosed. Army personnel did not allow anyone to see his body. However, during burial, they saw a little. His body was cleaved, and all essential organs were taken out.” The family members were aghast at this organ harvesting but couldn’t do anything owing to fear.
Reportedly, forced disappearances and torture at the hands of army personnel in regions dominated by ethnic minorities in Pakistan is rampant since 2008. As per Organiser, Abdul Rahman, the cousin of Baloch National Movement (BNM) Vice-President Lal Munir, was abducted on February 24, 2013, by the Pakistan army. His corpse with missing essential organs was discovered near the Milar area in Karachi on March 10, 2013.
Ban on Commercial Trade of Organs
Reportedly, illegal organ harvesting has become a flourishing trade in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The country had, however, banned the commercial sale of human organs in 2010. As per the law, anyone found involved in organ harvesting and trade of organs can face up to a jail term of 10 years and a maximum fine of PKR 1 million.
Under the current provisions, donors can give their organs to relatives and not to foreigners. As per the report published by the Organiser, people from abroad including Britain, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa travel to Karachi in Pakistan for organ transplantation. Such operations are carried out in discreet private clinics or in concealed basements.
The Chinese Link
Human rights activist Naela Quadri Baloch fear that the ethnic minority of Baloch would become exterminated at the hands of the Pakistani army. She compares the treatment (genocide) meted out the people in Balochistan to that of Jews in Germany during Hitler’s time and the Bengalis in East Pakistan. “As per the existing population, every day 10 to 50 people (in Balochistan) are getting disappeared which will result in the elimination of Baloch people,” she was quoted as saying.
She alleged that the Pakistan army is not only behind the resources in Balochistan but also the organ of the ethnic minorities in the area. Naela said, “They are kidnapping our children and women so that they get killed and their organs to be sold. Pakistani and Chinese armies are doing it together. You get the cheapest organ transplant in China. Where do they get all these organs? They have implemented the same in their country and have live blood banks. They are doing the same in Balochistan and Sindh.”
According to Manzoor Pashteen, 1000s of Pashtuns are abducted by the Pakistani army every year and sold by its Generals for money. Estimates say that around 40,000 Baloch and 25,000 Mohajirs are still missing. Tens and thousands of Pashtuns have been forcibly disappeared from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In 2017, the US Treasury Department said that it imposes sanctions on all Human Rights abusers from across the globe. US President Donald Trump had signed an Executive order to impose sanctions on grave human rights abusers from around the world. In this regard, sanctions were imposed on a Pakistani surgeon named Mukhtar Hamid Shah who is believed to be involved in organ trafficking, kidnapping, and wrongful confinement.
Shah was arrested in 2016 for holding 24 impoverished individuals against their will, under the pretext of providing them jobs. Doctors were planning to harvest their kidneys. Reportedly, 400 people were kept in detention at the apartment at various points in time. Activists demand that Donald Trump impose sanctions against high-ranking army officials deployed in Balochistan and are involved in organ trafficking, forced disappearances and murders.
The Silence of International Organisations on Balochistan
The Human Rights activists in Balochistan have been time and again emphasised the need for international organisations such as Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, European Council, Human Rights without Frontiers, etc. to take cognisance of the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan. Besides requesting them to set up their offices in Balochistan, they have demanded reports on the deaths of civilians at the hands of the Pakistani army.
They have demanded trial against guilty army personnel and high-ranking officers for crimes against humanity. Owing to the atrocities perpetrated on the people of Balochistan, they have demanded freedom from the Punjabi-dominated army. Several people are forced to pick up arms and resist the tyrannical army. Locals say, “This vicious circle of exploitation and Human Rights abuse will end only when they get freedom. Till then their freedom struggle will continue.”