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Islamabad police brutalised women and children at Baloch Yakjehti March

Contrary to a public statement shared on X, the ICT police subjected almost 50 Baloch women to detention without charges and an attempt of forceful deportation

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Claim: Islamabad police did not brutalise or torture female Baloch protesters and safely transported them to a location of their choice. 

Fact: According to video evidence and eyewitness statements, ICT police detained over 50 Baloch women, after releasing them and dismissing any charges against them. The police forcefully attempted to deport them back to Quetta, and in this process, the detainees were subjected to torture by the Islamabad and Punjab police.  

On 21 December 2023, ICT police shared a tweet claiming that they did not brutalise female Baloch protesters and safely transported them to a location of their choice. The tweet reads,

“مظاہرین کو اسلام آباد پولیس نے اپنی حفاظت میں ان کی مرضی کے مقام پر روانہ کیا۔

کسی پر کسی بھی قسم کا تشدد نہیں کیا گیا۔

بعض افراد منفی پراپیگنڈہ اور سستی شہرت کےلیے جھوٹی خبریں پھیلا رہے ہیں۔

امن و امان کا قیام اولین ترجیح ہے 

عوام سے گذارش ہے کہ جھوٹی خبروں پر کان مت دھریں۔

قانون کی خلاف ورزی کرنے والوں کے خلاف قانونی کارروائی عمل میں لائی جائے گی۔

#ICTP #IslamabadPolice”

[Translation: The ICT police transported the protesters safely to a location of their choice and they were not subjected to any kind of brutality. Some individuals are spreading negative propaganda, for cheap fame they are spreading lies. Peace and stability is the top priority. The public is requested to avoid listening to fake news. Those who go against the law will be subjected to the law.]

On 22 December, ICT Police shared another statement on X claiming that “no women or children were subjected to any mal-treatment at any time during Baloch Yakjehti March on 21-22 of December”. It further claimed that “None of them was harmed at any place,” and that “All women had been sent with their relatives or friends with care.” An Urdu translation of the same statement was posted on the same day.

Fact or Fiction?

From activists, lawyers, journalists and socialist-feminist workers involved on the ground, Soch Fact Check received video evidence of at least 6 human rights violations (listed below) committed by the Islamabad police against Baloch women and children. These individuals have chosen to remain anonymous due to concerns for their safety. The evidence proves that:

1. In the absence of any legally filed charges, more than 50 women and children were detained illegally inside the G-7 Markaz women’s police station. They were beaten, harassed and forcefully detained in a crowded jail cell. In the second video shared in this post by journalist Munizae Jehangir, it is clear that this violence occurred in a crowded jail cell.

2. The Islamabad police tried to force women and children inside buses which were meant to ‘deport’ them back to Quetta. But due to a timely intervention by a number of activists who have chosen to remain anonymous and popular journalists such as Hamid Mir, the situation was averted. Mir was present at the G-7 police station and also posted on his X account regarding the situation.

3. Baloch protesters were subjected to water cannons and tear gas by the Islamabad police before any arrests were made, as can be seen in a video embedded below. Some videos made by bystanders were also published online here, here, here, here, and here

4. In the aftermath of this incident, Islamabad police also captured Baloch students from Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) in Islamabad.

5.The Baloch Genocide March’s leader Mahrang Baloch was registered in an FIR for allegedly hurting a policewoman. Mahrang Baloch and three other eyewitnesses present at the location claim that the policewoman injured herself while she was forcefully capturing Baloch women and children inside the buses meant to take them to Quetta. Baloch expanded on this in a video linked below. On the other hand, the police claim that Baloch and her comrades injured the policewoman. 

The leader of the Baloch Genocide protest, Mahrang Baloch has also been sharing live video updates on her own social media handles, as well as the official social media accounts of the Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC).

All video evidence that is mentioned below can be found in this Google Drive folder. This evidence has been collected by activists and journalists who were reporting from the ground, present inside the G7 Markaz women’s police station and at the Islamabad Press Club where the sit-in protest was held and where currently a camp is being conducted. 

This video clearly shows the Islamabad police deploying water canons in the winter, and using tear gas against civilian protesters, thereby evidently disproving ICT police’s claim of not using violence and torture against the Baloch protesters in Islamabad. This is linked to point 3, listed above.

In this video you can see very clearly that the women are held inside a jail cell. In addition, we have received a video of Baloch women speaking out and recording a statement while still being illegally detained inside the bus. This is linked to point 5, listed above.

From this video, it is evident that the police are calling for the bus’s doors to be closed while simultaneously shoving women and children inside the bus. It can also be heard that the person recording the video is asking the policewomen to stop pushing a 10-year-old girl who can be seen standing at the gate of the bus. Along with the person recording the video, Soch Fact Check received confirmation from three other eyewitnesses who were present at the time of the incident. This is linked to point 2, listed above.

We also received these images, which show Baloch women protesting from inside the buses, stating that they were being illegally detained, despite having been technically released by the police due to the lack of any charges filed against them. 

A video statement from one of the protesting Baloch women from inside the bus reveals details regarding the police brutality faced by these women while they were illegally detained inside the police stations without any charges. She says that one of the women attacked by the police was an 85-year-old woman, adding that they were strangled and dragged to the buses. 

Apart from directly reported evidence, there is a plethora of videos, images and collages present on social media, indicating the violence that the Baloch protesters were subjected to. Videos shared on social media here, here, here, and here show that the Quaidian Students Federation (QSF), a political student body at Quaid e Azam University (QAU) organised a protest against the illegal arrests and kidnappings of Baloch students from the university. They also document the abduction of Dr Zaheer Baloch, a PhD scholar and Yasir Baloch, a student of archaeology. This is linked to point 4, listed above.

International climate justice activist Greta Thunberg, also shared a post on X, in solidarity with Dr Mahrang Baloch, condemning the police brutality faced by Baloch protesters in Islamabad. In response to this tweet, the ICT police again replied “Respected! There is no evidence of any injured persons at all.” However, a community note tagged to their reply also states that several pictures and media reports of several protesters being injured by the Islamabad police show otherwise. 

In addition to the evidence presented above, Soch Videos also reported on the matter of the Baloch protest and the police brutality in its aftermath here. In this video, one of the organisers of the protest, Sammi Deen Baloch explains the incidents of police brutality faced by the protesters, especially the women, children and older women. 

 This public condemnation by Baloch National Party (BNP) leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal was also recorded and reported live on national television, here

The police crackdown, use of batons, and water cannons and the illegal detention of over 200 women and children were also discussed in a political TV show called Zara Hat Kay on Dawn News, here. Their correspondent on the ground, Shakeel Haider also addressed  claims about the caretaker government’s committee, which was constituted to look into the matter of police brutality. The committee had attempted to justify the use of violence against Baloch women, citing that the police saw some men whose face was covered during the protest and flagged them as potential terrorists. Haider clarified that due to air pollution and the winter weather, several men wrap a cloth over their noses and mouths and that this justification is not concrete enough for such a statement to be made.

According to a report by Dawn, “The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned what it called the violent state crackdown on the peaceful Baloch protesters.” The report further states that, “In a statement issued by HRCP Chairperson Asad Iqbal Butt, the commission said it was appalled by the state’s response to peaceful protesters with women, children, and the elderly subjected to unwarranted force in the form of water cannons and use of batons.” 

Virality

Islamabad police’s statements on X received more than 902,300 views and 8,300 interactions. Their response to Greta Thunberg’s post on X also received over 467,800 views and 1,589 interactions on Twitter. 

On Facebook, their statement received more than 1,173 interactions. The claim was also shared here, and here

Conclusion: The Islamabad police’s public statement refuting the claims of torture and police brutality against Baloch protesters is not true. Evidence in the form of videos, and eyewitness statements from on-ground reporters, activists and journalists proves that women and children at the protest were in fact subjected to mal-treatment by the police, and were forcibly detained inside buses which were meant to send them to Quetta. 

Background image(s) in cover photo: Received over WhatsApp

To appeal against our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com 

 

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