Release Human Rights Defender Held in Unknown Location

Suzan Petersen

Target: Mamnoon Hussai, President of Pakistan

Goal: Release a human rights defender unjustly accused of having ties to “terrorist” groups.

Saeed Baloch, a human rights activist and General Secretary of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that “protects the rights of fishermen and the fishing communities in Pakistan,” has been arrested and accused of having ties to organized crime and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist group. It is very likely that he has been detained as a result of his human rights work, and he must be released immediately.

Saeed Baloch, his friends and family, and various international human rights groups all deny that he has any connections to either organized crime or the BLA, and his accusers have offered no proof. In fact, Baloch was held incommunicado without access to either a lawyer or his family for nearly ten days after his arrest, until pressure from both national and international sources prompted his appearance in court. There it was decided that he would be held for an additional three months, still without charge. His location still has not been disclosed, not even to his family. Furthermore, security officers at his hearing claimed Saeed had only been arrested the day before, despite having previously claimed the correct date of arrest nine days prior.

Transparency and due process are key components of fair trials around the world. So far Saeed Baloch’s trial has been characterized by neither. Sign the petition and demand that he either be charged with a legitimate criminal offense or freed immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Your Excellency,

I am writing to express my concern and disgust at the way Saeed Baloch, a human rights activist and General Secretary of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, has been treated since his arrest without charge on January 16, 2016. I demand that he either be charged with an internationally recognizable offense or released immediately.

Although he has not been officially charged with any crime, Saeed Baloch has been accused of financially supporting organized crime and with being a member of the Balochistan Liberation Army. He denies both charges, and is supported in his denial by “family, colleagues, and the international human rights community,” Amnesty International reports.

Baloch was held incommunicado for about nine days until public pressure necessitated his appearance in court. He was not charged with anything, but was ordered to be held for three more months. At the hearing, officers claimed Baloch had only been arrested the day before, when he had in fact been arrested nine days prior, a fact that had been previously stated by the officers themselves.

This treatment is ridiculous and violates a number of international human rights and fair trial standards. I demand that Saeed Baloch be either charged with a legitimate crime or released immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Suzan Petersen

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