Expressing grave concerns over the human rights situation in Pakistan’s Sindh province, a US lawmaker has condemned the alleged assault on families of disappeared persons during a hunger-strike in the province.
In a statement, Congressman Brad Sherman strongly condemned an incident that occurred last week, when Pakistan’s security forces allegedly assaulted the families of disappeared and missing persons who were on a hunger strike in protest of these disappearances.
“I express my grave concerns about the human rights situation in the Sindh province of Pakistan, with special reference to enforced disappearances of persons at the hands of Pakistani security agencies,” Sherman said.
He further said that “Many of the disappeared persons are from the Jeay Sindh Mahaz (JSM), Jeay Sindh Mutehada Mahaz (JSMM), and Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM). The disappeared persons also include teachers, intellectuals, writers, and publishers”.
The daughters and wives of the disappeared persons were on a 72-hour hunger strike in front of the Press Club at Karachi that began on May 20.
During their non-violent protest, Pakistani security forces or their agents assaulted two daughters of the disappeared Hidyat Lohar (an elementary school headmaster who was taken away in April 2017 in front of school children) and two daughters of Khadim Arijo (a civil servant missing since April 2017).
Security forces also reportedly detained about five of the nonviolent activists, though it seems they have been released, he said.
“It is crucial that Pakistan immediately cease these and other related human rights violations in the Sindh province. Pakistani security personnel and others involved in the enforced disappearances should be held accountable,” Sherman said.
He urged the US State Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as US ambassador in Pakistan, to take up this issue with the civilian and military leadership of Pakistan.
“Our ambassador to Pakistan must receive guarantees from the Pakistani government regarding the protection of human rights defenders and of those who advocate for Sindh’s missing persons. It will be even more significant to set up a bipartisan fact-finding mission to probe enforced disappearances and related killings in Sindh,” Sherman said.