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Autor Wątek: Pakistani activist was a 'mountain of courage'  (Przeczytany 47 razy)

Thadee Phutsri

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Pakistani activist was a 'mountain of courage'
« dnia: Luty 23, 2021, 08:59:50 am »

Karima Baloch, a Pakistani human rights activist living in exile in Canada, was found dead on Sunday. Police say they have no reason to suspect foul play, but Karima's family and supporters say her death at least warrants closer inspection. The BBC spoke to her family about a woman they called "a mountain of courage".

In 2008, Karima Mehrab - known as Karima Baloch - was standing in front of a judge in a Pakistani court on charges connected to her activism. The judge told her he was minded to give her a more lenient sentence because she was a woman.

Karima declined.

"She said, 'If you are going to punish me, you should do that on the basis of equality - do not give me that concession because of my gender,'" her brother Sameer recalled. It was just another example of an "extraordinary" woman's dedication to her beliefs, he said.

Karima was used to clashing with the Pakistani authorities. She had been a thorn in their side ever since her early twenties, when she stood at the front of a rally for missing people in Balochistan clutching a picture of one of her missing relatives.

Back then, the authorities didn't know her name. But in the following years she rose up the ranks of activists fighting for independence for Balochistan - a resource-rich but restive province in the southwest. In 2006, Karima joined the central committee of the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) - a group she would go on to lead.

Her family knew the dangers that came with such a role. When Karima was a child, her mother talked about the struggle, Sameer said, and they had uncles on both sides who were involved in the movement. They also knew what could happen. Pakistan's armed forces have been accused of suppressing the struggle through force, "disappearing" activists - a charge they've denied multiple times. In the coming years, a number of Karima's relatives would go missing and turn up dead. pgslot

"I was afraid something would happen to her," said Sameer, who left Pakistan in 2006 and joined his sister in Canada in 2017. "I could not forgive myself if something had happened. But that grew into pride because I saw what she did."