By Reena Bhardwaj
Washington DC [US], December 30 (ANI): Dozens of demonstrators made calls for justice outside the Canadian embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday afternoon and demanded a formal investigation into the death of human rights activist Karima Mehrab.
Mehrab, also known as Karima Baloch, a prominent Baloch voice, went missing on last Sunday and her body was found a day later in Toronto, Canada.
Toronto Police say they don't consider her death to be suspicious but protestors including fellow Baloch and other minorities from Pakistan say she had gotten several threats for her activism against the Pakistani government.
A US chapter of the Baloch National Movement along with Gilgiti's, Pashtuns, Mohajirs and Sindhi's held a protest demanding justice for Karima. Braving the bitter cold, protestors including women and children raised flags, held placards with pictures of Karima. Chants of "Who killed Karima Baloch? We need answers!" were heard outside the embassy.
"We cannot believe it. We cannot accept it, personally, that it was an accident or suicide because she had lots of threats," said her friend Nabi Baloch who met Karima just two weeks ago.
Nabi says she was an immensely courageous person and it's difficult for him and his family to accept the investigating agencies version of Karima's death.
Mehrab's death isn't the only one that Nabi and other activists gathered at the protest believe was connected to the Pakistani forces. According to the DC-based Baloch activist, who often met Mehrab, her uncle was abducted in 2016 and killed two years later. Nabi also adds that Pakistani journalist Sajid Hussain went missing in Sweden earlier this year. His body was found in a river months later. Police also said his death was not suspicious. Nabi believes it's all connected.
The Baloch activists' death has also sparked protests across Europe and North America as the Baloch diaspora took to the streets in Toronto, Berlin and Netherlands calling on the Canadian government to investigate.
Waheed Baloch, a former Baloch political leader, said Karima was the shining star of the Baloch freedom movement and her killing will gather political momentum because Karima was the first woman activist to be assassinated outside Baluchistan. "Karima was the first prominent, active political Baloch leader who was a woman. She has been killed by Pakistan and that's the prominence of Karima and that's why this killing will not go unseen," Waheed told ANI
A prominent political activist from Gilgit Baltistan who condemned Karima's death and stood in solidarity at the protest said that the Pakistani government is responsible for the killing of the political activist. "She was an activist full of determination and ambition. She was hope for so many of us, so for the police to say that her killing was death by suicide is foul play by Pakistan and ISI," Senge H Sering, the director of Institute of Gilgit Baltistan told ANI.
Pir Zubair Shah, a veteran journalist who fled from Pakistan to seek refuge in the United States says activists like him don't feel safe anymore. "Karima was a brave woman and I don't think she would have died the way the police tells us. We demand a thorough investigation by the Canadian government and I ask my country, the United States, to give us protection,' the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist told ANI. (ANI)