6th January 2021

BUREAU REPORT


LAHORE

Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, on Tuesday, January 5, has strongly denounced the killing of the 11 Shia-Hazara coal miners by terrorists in the small town of Machh in the Bolan district of Balochistan on Sunday, January 3.

In a statement released on Monday in New York, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, stated that the UN chief strongly condemned the act of terror and extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

“He trusts that the Pakistani authorities will do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Haq added.

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), an Afghanistan-based Deobandi militant group which is an offshoot of the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), claimed responsibility for the attack through Amaq News Agency, a news outlet linked to the Islamic State.

Following the attack, the Hazara community staged a protest in the Western Bypass area, laying the corpses of the miners out on the highway. Mourning family members stated they would not bury the dead until their demands for the immediate arrest and punishment of the killers were met, along with the removal of the coalition government of Balochistan. By Wednesday, the sit-in entered its fourth consecutive day.

While Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed solidarity with the aggrieved, and assured them of due justice, he did not show any inclination of going to visit the community. The Hazara community has called upon the Premier to meet with the protesters in person.

Even though Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Bukhari met the protesters on Tuesday night to assuage their concerns, he failed to reach an agreement. Previously, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid also attempted to initiate negotiations with the aggrieved, promising Rs2.5 million for each of the affected families, however protesters refused to disperse.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister once again reiterated his support for the affected families in Machh, and termed the killing an act of sectarian violence instigated by “our neighbor”, which he did not clarify in his tweet. He further assured that he would meet the protesters soon.

During a press conference at the National Press Club, Balochistan’s Parliamentary Secretary for Information Bushra Rind claimed that India had a hand in the incident.


READ MORE: https://voicepk.net/2021/01/06/civil-society-expresses-outrage-on-macch-incident/


In a protest held on Monday, by the Huqooq-e-Khalq Movement and the Progressive Students’ Collective, Dr. Alia Haider, who is the sister of Jalila Haider spoke about the brutality that Hazaras have been facing since two decades.

“Since 20 years, more than 5,000 Hazaras, have been killed in different incidents,” she said. “Some call it sectarian and some call it ethnic, but often times it is sugar coated. We are especially disappointed by the two representatives of the Hazara Qaumi Movement who are sitting in Balochistan Assembly right now. They should hand in their resignations.”

Dr. Alia said that the time had come when the state needed to take serious action to protect their own people. “We have faced so many of such incidents from the 2004 firing and blast at Alamdar, or a bus blast. Yet no one has been arrested ever,” she continued. “When my sister held a hunger strike in 2018, General Bajwa had come himself and had assured her that no untoward incident would happen – and it didnt for a very long time. So what has happened now?“

She identified that the Machh area was dominated by the Hazara and the Baloch and said a large majority of the colliers were Hazaras.

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