On Thursday, thousands of people rallied to the Karachi Press Club to pay tributes to Karima Baloch and also demanded a thorough investigation into her death under circumstances that her family says are suspicious. The protesters called on Canada to carry out a deeper probe and ensure the truth is uncovered. They held pictures of Karima Baloch remembering the iconic activist’s courage and bravery. Similar rallies were also organised in Lahore and different parts of Balochistan.
Karima Baloch was found dead on Monday after going missing in Toronto, Canada, where she had been living in exile since November 2015. She was a renowned activist from Balochistan and had to leave her homeland following serious threats to her life. Her family says the threats never stopped even after she arrived in Canada. The news of her death shocked rights organisations around the world, prompting calls for a serious probe from her supporters and media circles familiar with her work. The story was met with similar shock by activists and reporters as it has continued to trend on social media in different countries for the fourth consecutive day.
The family has now urged the Canadian authorities to further investigate Karima’s death after the Toronto Police Service tweeted on Tuesday that it did not suspect any foul play. “I respectfully urge Canadian authorities to conduct a higher level investigation into my sister Karima Baloch’s death, given her profile as an activist of international recognition and the well-documented threats to our family. All aspects of these threats should be fully investigated as considerable doubts still remain in our minds. We as responsible residents of this country are ready to fully cooperate with the authorities in the case,” Karima’s brother Sameer Mehrab said on Twitter. His reaction came after the police’s tweet: “The circumstances (of Karima Baloch’s death) have been investigated and officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected.”
Karima’s husband, Hammal Haidar, also raised the need for a serious look: “Karima Baloch’s death needs further inquiry. My wife was an immensely courageous and spirited person. Her work as an internationally prominent activist speaks for itself. I believe it’s our right to request the Canadian authorities to leave no stone unturned in looking into the circumstances of her death as well the threats she had been facing since moving to the country. We have cooperated with the police and will continue to do so,” he said.
The family and Baloch activists are not alone in demanding a more careful inquiry. Canada’s ex-Minister of Immigration and former ambassador to Afghanistan Chris Alexander agreed with them on Twitter: “Given the documented threats of assassination made to each victim, the cases of #KarimaBaloch & #SajidHussain, the Baloch refugee journalist found in a river in Sweden in May, should be pursued by relevant authorities in both countries as murder investigations.” Sajid Hussain, a respected Baloch journalist and founding editor of Balochistan Times, was found dead after going missing in similar circumstances in Sweden earlier this year.
Rights groups have also asked for a more wide-ranging probe. “The death of activist #KarimaBaloch in Toronto, Canada, is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty,” Amnesty International South Asia said on Tuesday. The Human Rights Council of Balochistan also urged Canada earlier today to carefully look into Karima’s death.