Originally published: https://www.aninews.in/news/world/asia/baloch-activist-wins-front-line-defenders-award-for-work-related-to-enforced-disappearances20240531202722/

31 May 2024 | ANI News

Baloch activist won Front Line Defenders Award for her work on enforced disappearances  (Photo/@SammiBaluch)

Baloch activist won Front Line Defenders Award for her work on enforced disappearances (Photo/@SammiBaluch)

Baloch rights activist Sammi Deen Baloch received the Front Line Defenders (FLD) Award in the Enforced Disappearances category at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland on Friday.

According to a press statement released by FLD, the General Secretary for the Voice For Missing Persons belongs to the Mashkai, Awaran District of Balochistan province. In June 2009, at the age of 10, Sammi’s father, Deen Mohammed Baloch, was forcibly disappeared in Khuzdar, Balochistan.

She began persistently campaigning for the release of her father, which further led to her deeper, collective involvement in advocating against enforced disappearances in Balochistan by state forces.

Following the enforced disappearance of her father, Sammi together with her family attended court hearings, and campaigned relentlessly for his release.

In October 2013, Sammi, along with family members of victims of enforced disappearances, organised a 3000 km long walk from Quetta to Karachi, and onwards to Islamabad.

She was moved by the struggles of families, mainly mothers, wives and sisters, who did not know whom to approach for support in fighting for their loved ones to return.

Sammi has led campaigns and actions including marches, protests and sit-ins; documented violations and cases of enforced disappearance; and assisted families with registering cases with relevant authorities.

She has been a vocal advocate for women’s and girl’s rights, the right to education and ongoing violations including killings, mass graves and the collective punishment of families.

During her address at the award ceremony she said, “For the past fourteen years, eleven months and three days, my family, my siblings, my mother and I have been left grappling with the agonizing uncertainty about my father’s whereabouts. I don’t know whether I’m an orphan and my mother still wonders whether she calls herself a widow or still waits for her husband. Each passing day feels like an eternity, as we swing between hope and despair, clinging to the fading embers of optimism that he will one day return. But as the years stretched on, the reality of our situation became painfully clear. Our once vibrant family was shattered, replaced by a relentless cycle of advocacy and activism.”

Further, she mentioned, “Can you grasp the depth of helplessness in Balochistan when other victims seek solace from me, a daughter who has spent the last 15 years searching for her own father? The plight of Balochistan extends far beyond the border of our homeland. It is a story of systematic oppression and unspeakable atrocities committed against us. It is a story that demands to be heard, a story that must not be relegated to the shadows of indifference. For the past seven decades, the people of Balochistan have endured severe violations of human rights.”

Sammi Deen Baloch is highlighting a serious issue that has been getting worse over the past twenty years. She says that tens of thousands of people have been forcibly taken away against their will, often by authorities or other powerful groups, and have not been seen or heard from since.

“Their voices were silenced by the cruel hand of state-sponsored violence. Several mass graves have been unearthed, bearing silence, witness to the horrors that have been inflicted upon the people. The process of burying unidentified bodies in an abandoned graveyard continues unabated, a grim reminder of the countless lives lost to the brutality of enforced disappearances. Every time we receive the news of a dead body, the families of victims of enforced disappearances are plummeting to unbearable pain and anguish.” she said.

“For us, the mere truth of the body may belong to our missing loved ones is enough to send shivers down to our spines. Some bodies are identified bringing a semblance of closure to grieving families. But for others, we left to bury them as unknown bodies, our living loved ones becoming the unknown in the sea of uncertainty” she added.

The protests, the tireless advocacy for justice, all of it becomes a hall replaced by the solemn theme of laying a stone to rest. In these moments, I can’t help but wonder what we have become, what we have been reduced to celebrating to the end of someone else’s suffering” said Sammi Baloch.

Baloch rights activist expresses feelings about the death of a loved one who had been missing. she said, “While we mourn the loss of a loved one, there is also a sense of relief for the family that their agonizing wait for closure has finally ended.”

She reflects on how tragic it is that they are finding relief at the end of someone else’s suffering, highlighting the deep pain and frustration caused by such situations.

“The protests, the tireless advocacy for justice, all of it becomes a hall replaced by the solemn theme of laying a stone to rest. In these moments, I can’t help but wonder what we have become, what we have been reduced to celebrating to the end of someone else’s suffering,” said Sammi Baloch

The Annual Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk was established in 2005 to honour the work of HRDs who are courageously making outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of the human rights of others, often at great personal risk to themselves.

The Award focuses international attention on the work and struggles of HRDs, providing a greater national and international platform to speak about and advocate for the human rights issues they are defending. (ANI)