Saturday, September 18, 2021

Missing Pakistani rights activist found dead in Canada

She fled Pakistan after being charged with terrorism and was living in exile in Toronto.

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The body of Karima Baloch, a Pakistani human rights activist, has been found in Toronto, Canada, where she had been living in exile for five years.

Baloch, 37, a campaigner from the restive region of Balochistan in western Pakistan, was a vocal critic of the Pakistani military and state.

The BBC is reporting that Toronto police issued an appeal after she went missing on Sunday and later confirmed that her body had been found.

In 2016, Baloch was named in the BBC’s annual list of 100 inspirational and influential women for her work as a campaigner.

She fled Pakistan in 2015, after being charged with terrorism.

While in exile, she continued to campaign on social media and in person for the rights of people in Balochistan.

She lived under constant threat, according to Lateef Johar Baloch, a close friend and fellow activist who also lives in Toronto.

He told the BBC that she had recently received anonymous threats warning that someone would send her a “Christmas gift” and “teach her a lesson”.

Several members of Baloch’s extended family have been linked to the Baloch resistance movement, and the bodies of two of her uncles were found after they had disappeared.

Earlier this year, another former Baloch resident living in exile in Sweden, journalist Sajid Hussain Baloch, went missing and was later found dead.

Swedish police ruled out any “visible wrongdoing” and the cause of death was judged to be drowning.

The Pakistani military denies accusations that it is brutally suppressing the region’s aspirations for autonomy but activists in Balochistan say thousands of campaigners have gone missing in recent years.

In the case of Karima Baloch, Toronto police say there were “not believed to be any suspicious circumstances”.

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