AHRC: Young Women Held in Military Torture Cells

January 12, 2009

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission 

Ms. Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from Balochistan
province, was arrested in late 2005, and has been held incommunicado in an army torture cell at Karachi, the capital of Sindh province. She has been repeatedly raped by the military officers and is being used as a sex slave, to induce arrested nationalist activists to sign state-concocted confessions.

One man, who was arrested by a state agency and kept in military
torture cell almost for nine months, narrated the story of this young
woman to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF); nowpublic.com <http://www.nowpublic.com; the International Red Cross; and at Woolwich Court in London. The
current whereabouts of the young woman are not known. It has been
asserted that women who are fighting for the greater autonomy of
Balochistan are being arrested by the state agencies and being forced
into sex slavery in their custody.

Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language
television channel, was arrested on April 4, 2006 from Karachi
International airport by the state intelligence agencies and
transferred to a military torture cell in Karachi for nine months
(http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/1666/
). He narrated the story of the forced sex slavery of the young
teacher Zarina Marri whom he encountered in a military cell.
According to the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Munir Mengal
witnessed many human rights violations in this military prison.
Mengal says that, “a young Balochi woman, Ms. Zarina Marri, was used as a sexual slave by the officers. They even once threw her naked into my cell. I did not know what had happened to this mother of a family who was arrested by the army in our province.”

Another Balochi nationalist (name omitted by request), who was
arrested by the military intelligence agency twice and kept in
military cells in different cities, has confirmed to the AHRC that
there were young Balochi females seen at those two torture cells,
naked and in distress. The prominent Balochi nationalist leaders say
that they know fact that young Balochi women are being arrested,
either during or after protest demonstrations on the disappearances
and are missing. They also know about the women are sexually abused in the military custody but they cannot say so publically because of their sanctity and harassment of their families.

Munir Mengal was also tortured and his penis was severely injured when he refused to have sex with Zarina Marri. He told RSF, “on 27th January, 2007 at 6 pm Major Iqrar Gul Niazi (Military Intelligence) called me in his office and showed me some nude pictures, and laughingly told me that you have been a director of a TV channel so certainly you have good relations with actresses.”

When he returned to his cell he found porn pictures strewn all over
it. Around 12 pm a low-ranking military officer called Subedar
brought a female there. She was trembling and weeping. “He threw her on my body and told me, ‘You know what to do with her. You are not a child we have to tell what to do with her.’” Mr. Mengal says after half an hour the officer returned, and seeing them sitting apart, abused them and forcibly took off their clothes. Mengal said he was stunned when the woman began praying in the Balochi language. She told Mengal her name was Zarina Marri and that she belongs to the Kohlu area, headquarters of the rebel Marri tribe, a scene of a
bloody insurgency that begun in 2005. She said she was a
schoolteacher and that the army personnel had abducted her along with her one-year-old.

“They accuse us for spying for the Baluchistan Liberation Army,”
Zarina Marri said. She begged Mengal to kill her. I have been
undressed several times for them.”

Mengal said on the refusal to have sex, the intelligence officials
inflicted cuts on his private parts. “I thought I would lose my
manhood,” he said. Ms. Zarina told to Mengal that she has seen some
females in the torture cell but was not allowed to talk with them.

At the time of this incident Colonel Raza of the Pakistani Army was
in charge of that cell. After a few days he was transferred to
Rawalpindi, Punjab province and Colonel Abdul Malik Kashmiri came as head of the military torture cell.

Munir Mengal was released from the military torture cell on 4th
August 2007 and was held in a civilian jail on August 5th. The
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives met
him in Khuzadar jail, where he provided them with a detailed briefing
which they wrote down. The next day their doctor also checked the
injured portion of his penis. Mr. Andrew Barterlays, the officer of
ICRC who visited Mr. Mengal several times in jail, told Mr. Mengal
that until he was out of custody the ICRC could not take up the issue
of Zarina Marri, because both their lives would be threatened.

The officials of the education department of Kahan have disclosed
that Ms. Marri was a teacher at a government middle school in Kahan, Kohlu district, she was registered as Zarina Bi Bi and she was
trained as a Junior Vocational Teacher. She was among those people
who were transferred from Kohlu, Kahan, Sibi, Hernai, Much, Kohlo,
Dera Bugti, Sabsilla, Bhambhoor, Loti, Dhaman, Pir Koh, Spin, Tangi,
Babar Kach, Tandori and Sangan of the Balochistan province during
December 2005 and July 2006 when the military government of  Musharraf was using aerial bombardments to defuse the nationalist movement of Balochistan against the construction of cantonment areas. On 14 December 2005, paramilitary troops accused
the people of the area of firing eight rockets at a paramilitary base
on the outskirts of the town of Kohlu, a stronghold of the Marri
tribe, while Musharraf was visiting it. After the visit of Musharraf, within three days of the rocket firing incident, the paramilitary forces began attacking vast areas including the Kahan. It is reported in the media that the military government used the Pakistan air force for bombarding the area.

During the fighting between local nationalist militants and the
government forces particularly, due to the aerial bombardments, the
local population started migrating to other places including to
Punjab and Sindh provinces. Please also see urgent appeal of AHRC;
http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/1872/
 dated July 21, 2006.

After some days around 429 persons left the Kahan, district Kohlu,
and migrated towards Dera Ghazi Khan district, Punjab province,
Zarina Marri and her parents were also among the caravan. Since then there is no trace of the caravan of 429 persons. After some months people tried to search the missing people and some army officers deputed at the Kohlu district told the people of the area that so many persons were killed in the fighting between the government
forces and militants and also in aerial bombardments. But after the
revelation from Munir Mengal, managing director of Baloch
language television channel, to Reporters without Frontiers (RSF)
that Zarina Baloch was in military torture cell at Karachi and was
forced in to sexual slavery, the concern of the people of Kohlu,
Kahan, and Dera Bugti has risen about the people of the 429 persons
which includes more than 70 women, including many young women, who may be used as sex slaves by the Pakistan military.

The Asian Human Rights Commission has already reported that 52
torture cells are run by the Pakistan army, please see following link
(http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1574/
), Karachi was stated to have three military torture cells. The
testimony by Mr. Munir Mengal has revealed the most heinous methods of army torture, using young women as sex slaves to induce political opponents to sign the government-concocted confessions of terrorist and anti-state activity.

The AHRC severely condemns the use of women as sex slaves by the
Pakistan army and for keeping these women incommunicado. Pakistan is the signatory to Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) but women are being used as sex slaves in a gross violation of the Convention by army officers.

The AHRC urges the government of Pakistan to immediately hold a
judicial investigation into the women detainees being used as sex
slaves by the army officers in their detention centers, and to arrest
all the army officers posted in the torture cells; both in Karachi and
in the rest of Pakistan. The perpetrators of these heinous crimes must
be brought before the law. The government should ascertain the
whereabouts of the women arrested from Balochistan province who have disappeared after their arrest, including Zarina Marri. It is the
duty of the government to search for the missing persons taken by
State intelligence agencies, who have held them in torture cells for
many years.

Pakistan proudly calls itself the Islamic Democratic State but its
rulers appear to lack the courage to bring its own military into
check. It is a military that engages in torture and some of the most
heinous methods of breaking the spirit of those that it considers the
enemy, it is a military that pays no heed to the norms of civilised
behaviour and is one that, if not brought to book will convert
Pakistan into a barbaric state.

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional
non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
—————————–
Asian Human Rights Commission
19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367

10 Responses

  1. Which link refers to the Zarina Marri story?

  2. The Public Relations Department of the Armed Forces
    threatens the journalists covering the case of Zarina Marri

    The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), a public relations
    department of the armed forces of Pakistan denied the allegations
    that Ms. Zarina Marri (23) was in a military torture cell and used as
    a sex slave to induce arrested nationalist activists to sign state
    concocted confessions. Please see the statement issued by AHRC about:

    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1843/

    The ISPR has also asked from the newspapers and other media, who have
    given coverage about the missing Zarina, to produce the first
    information report (FIR) about her arrest. In the effort to
    effectively deny the torture and forcing female prisoners to become
    sex slaves in army torture cells the officials of the ISPR have
    threatened newspapers and the electronic media with dire consequences
    if they continue to report on the issue of Zarina Marri.

    The director of ISPR, who holds the rank of Major General, has
    personally contacted different news papers who had written editorials
    demanding probe into the allegations that the army is running torture
    cells and hold female prisoners. He threatened the newspapers that
    their official advertisements and its payments will be stopped if
    they continue with their malicious campaign against the army. Some
    television channels came out about the threats but the federal
    minister for information then denied that director of the ISPR has
    made any such threats. He told the newspapers not to involve the
    Pakistan army in such campaign.

    It is regretted that, instead of probing the case the army officials
    have started threatening the editors and column writers to stop
    reporting on the issue of army torture cells and their inhuman
    treatment with the women. The government of Mr. Asif Zardari, the
    President of Pakistan, should start a probe through a judicial
    commission on the allegations that the army is using torture cells
    and has been doing so since the Musharaf era. Since so many persons
    have testified before the courts and media there should be no
    difficulty for the government to bring the perpetrators who misused
    their power in the name of national security and war on terror,
    before the law.

    It is the responsibility of the civilian government to come out with
    the statements on the allegations of military torture cells and not
    the duty of the army generals which shows that army is still more
    powerful in state affairs then the elected government. The AHRC urges
    that officials of the ISPR be instructed to stop threatening the
    journalists. Furthermore they must issue statements in the presence
    of ministry of information and government on the allegations of using
    women as sex slaves in the military custody.

  3. The Pakistani government must immediately act on its commitment to trace hundreds of Baluch victims of enforced disappearances, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization also calls on the United Nations to raise the issue of enforced disappearances in Pakistan at the 10th session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, 2 – 27 March 2009) to follow up on Pakistan’s previous pledges to begin to resolve the issue.

    Despite several pledges to resolve the country’s crisis of ‘disappearances’, Pakistan’s new civilian government has not yet provided information about hundreds of cases of people believed to be held secretly by the government as part of the so-called war on terror, or in response to internal opposition, for instance in Baluchistan.

    The Chief Minister of Baluchistan pledged in April 2008 that resolving the cases of Baluch disappearances would be a priority. In May 2008, Senator Babar Awan, the Secretary of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party Reconciliatory Committee on Baluchistan, announced the creation of a committee headed by Nawabzada Haji Lashkri to trace disappeared persons of Baluchistan as part of its efforts to address Baluch grievances.

    To date the government has not revealed the findings of its investigations or any actions it has taken to resolve the Baluch enforced disappearance cases.

    According to press reports, on 14 February Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik stated that the Baluchistan Chief Minister had given the government an “incomplete list of 800 ‘missing’ people”, of which 200 names on the list had been verified.

    A hitherto unknown separatist group, the Baluchistan Liberation United Front, on 2 February kidnapped John Solecki, head of the office of the UN High Commissioner of Refugees in Quetta.

    The BLUF (not to be confused with the long established Baluchistan Liberation Front) claims that 6,000 Baluch activists have gone “missing”. The BLUF also claims that 141 Baluch women are among the disappeared. The group demanded their release in exchange for Solecki’s return. The Pakistani government has denied the allegations.

    Amnesty International condemns the kidnapping of John Solecki and calls for his immediate and unconditional release and points out that hostage-taking is a crime under international law.

    Acts of enforced disappearance violate several provisions of Pakistan’s Constitution, including freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to judicial overview of detentions and to human dignity and the prohibition of torture, as well as constituting criminal offences.

    Pakistan has still not acted on its promise made in May 2008 that it would accede to International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

    At the meeting of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council (UPR), on 8 May 2008, Pakistan’s representatives declared that its security forces trained in international humanitarian law and were fully accountable. In a written statement in response to the UPR, the permanent representative “vowed to investigate” disappearances.

    Amnesty International has on several occasions called the government to account on this issue. In 2008, the organization used official court records and affidavits of victims and witnesses of enforced disappearances to show how government officials, especially from the country’s security and intelligences agencies, were resorting to a variety of tactics to conceal enforced disappearance. These include: denying detention takes place and denying all knowledge of the fate and whereabouts of disappeared persons; refusing to obey judicial orders; concealing the identity of the detaining authorities, for example by transferring the disappeared to other secret locations, threatening harm or re-disappearance and levelling spurious criminal charges to conceal enforced disappearances (See: Amnesty’s report, Denying the Undeniable: Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA33/018/2008/en).

    Amnesty International urges the Pakistani government to immediately resolve all acts of enforced disappearance; to ensure the immediate release of all persons held in secret detention unless they are transferred to official places of detention, charged with a recognizably criminal offence and remanded by an independent court; and to bring to justice officials found responsible. Victims, including families of those disappeared, should be granted reparations in accordance with international standards.

    Background
    Baluchistan has a history of insurgency with local groups advocating greater autonomy. Four waves of violent unrest took place in 1948, 1958-59, 1962-63 and 1973-77. In early 2005, tensions in Baluchistan again increased, with numerous clashes reported between security forces and Baluch tribesman. Local people in Baluchistan are demanding a bigger share of the revenue generated by the province’s natural resources, principally natural gas, which they believe now benefit other provinces. A number of Baluchi groups are seeking more rights for the province. Some of these groups have resorted to violence, while others are campaigning peacefully. The Pakistani national government has attempted to suppress this opposition by increasing the military presence in the region. Many people have died at the hands of the security forces in extrajudicial executions and deaths in custody, and thousands of people are reported to have “disappeared”. The confrontation between Baluch nationalists and the state is characterised by human rights abuses committed by all sides.

    Maya Pastakia
    Campaigner (Afghanistan and Pakistan)
    Asia-Pacific Programme
    Amnesty International
    International Secretariat
    Tel: +44 (0)20 7413 5653
    Working to protect human rights worldwide

  4. The problem of forced disappearances has been significant in Pakistan
    in recent years, notably since the beginning of the so-called war on
    terror following the 9/11 attacks in the United States of America in
    2001.

    The forced disappearance of political opponents by State intelligence
    services continues in spite of the newly elected government’s claims
    that they will swiftly deal with this problem. Since the Pakistan
    Peoples Party (PPP) again came to power nearly one year ago, no
    serious, credible steps have been taken to address these
    disappearances. Although it has been officially declared that the
    State intelligence agencies are working under the Prime Minister,
    they effectively remain out of control and act as if beyond the law.

    The ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) agencies are reportedly
    largely responsible for the arrest and disappearance of more than
    4,000 persons since the start of the war on terror, as reported by
    various local groups. In the first nine months of the PPPs
    government only around a dozen people have resurfaced from
    intelligence agency custody. During the same period, about 52 persons
    have gone missing after their arrests, mostly in the southern province
    of Balochistan, where military operations continue. Certain religious
    organisations claim that more than 23 persons belonging to various
    religious groups, mostly young students, are still missing after
    their arrest.

    A former interior minister in the cabinet of ex-president Musharraf
    told the national assembly in December 2005 that 4000 persons had
    been arrested in Balochistan province and for the most part were
    missing. Human rights organizations in the province claim that not
    more than 100 of these persons have been produced before courts. The
    current advisor to the Prime Minister and Minister in Charge of
    Interior Affairs, Mr. Rehman Malik, has again confirmed on February
    14, 2009, that around 1000 persons are missing in Balochistan
    Province, and the Chief Minister of Balochistan says he has a list of
    800 missing persons.

    The Asian Legal Resource Centre and its sister organization, the
    Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), have documented a list of
    missing persons from the province of Balochistan, with the help of a
    local organization the Anjumane Ettehad e Marri, which details the
    cases of 872 missing persons from different districts, including 81
    women, 151 school girls and 3 infants.

    Since the war on terror began, large numbers of disappearances have
    occurred in the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) where NATO and
    Pakistani forces are engaged in fighting militant religious
    fundamentalist forces. Ordinary people are being caught in the
    crossfire. Religious persons are the main target of disappearances.
    Both the fundamentalist forces and the, Pakistani authorities are
    detaining people and taking them to secret places. The militants in
    general kill them, while the Pakistani authorities are engaged in
    detaining them incommunicado in unknown locations. When missing
    persons are released by the Pakistani law enforcement agencies they
    frequently join the militants, clearly showing that such methods are
    fuelling rather than attenuating the problem of militancy and
    terrorism. In the NWFP more than 2000 persons are missing including
    some officers from Pakistani army.

    The nationalist forces of Sindh province claim that about 100 persons
    have been disappeared, some of whom were later released following the
    intervention of the Supreme Court and the Sindh High Court. In Punjab
    province most of the estimated 100 disappeared persons are thought to
    have come mainly from religious groups working in its southern and
    north western areas.

    Counter-terrorism has provided the Pakistani military with an excuse
    to abuse its powers when dealing with opponents of the government and
    religious activists, including arbitrary arrests, incommunicado
    detention for several months and torture in order to obtain
    confessional statements. Such practices have continued under the
    newly elected government, as the Pakistan army is refusing to provide
    the government with access to their domain.

    The AHRC, in a report issued on June 5, 2008, documented the fact
    that the Pakistani military is running is at least 52 torture and
    detention centres throughout the country, where people are detained
    incommunicado for several months and torture severely, leading to
    deaths and/or disappearances. Every cantonment area has at least one
    torture cell which is directly run by the state intelligence
    agencies. The new government of Mr. Asif Zardari, the president of
    Pakistan, has not initiated any serious effort to secure the release
    by the military of the missing persons, who are thought to be being
    kept in military torture cells.

    It should also be noted that a significant failure of the Universal
    Periodic review of Pakistan in 2008 at the United Nations was this
    reviews failure to sufficiently address the critical issue of
    disappearances in Pakistan.

    In particular, the ALRC is concerned by the emergence of numerous
    cases involving the disappearance of women. Some examples of cases
    follow:

    Ms. Zarina Marri, a 23-year-old schoolteacher from the Government
    Middle School at Kahan, in Balochistan province, was arrested in late
    2005, and has been held incommunicado in an army torture cell in
    Karachi, the capital of Sindh province. She has allegedly been
    repeatedly raped by military officers and is being used as a sex
    slave, to induce arrested nationalist activists to sign
    state-concocted confessions.

    Ms. Zarina Marri was among 429 men, women and children who migrated
    from their homes in Kahan, Dera Bugti district, Balochistan province
    after October 2005 following Pakistani military action, notably
    bombardments by the Pakistan Air Force. The civilians were trapped in
    fighting between nationalist militants and the military. It was
    believed that many men, women and children were killed in that
    fighting, but it has emerged that at least Ms. Zarina Marri was
    arrested and disappeared by the State.

    Mr. Munir Mengal, the managing director of a Balochi-language
    television channel, witnessed this young womans plight. Mr. Mengal
    was arrested on April 4, 2006 at Karachi International Airport by the
    State intelligence agencies and transferred to a military torture cell
    in Karachi for 16 months1. He narrated the story of the forced sex
    slavery of young school teacher Zarina Marri whom he encountered in a
    military cell. The current whereabouts of the young woman are not
    known. It has been asserted that women who are fighting for the
    greater autonomy of Balochistan are being arrested by the state
    agencies and forced into sex slavery in their custody.

    In another case, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a female scientist was
    reportedly arrested in Karachi, Sindh province, on March 30, by
    Pakistani intelligence agencies while on her way to the airport and
    initial reports suggested that she was handed over to the American
    Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the time of her arrest she
    was 30 years old and the mother of three sons, the oldest of which
    was four and the youngest only one month. Reports indicate that she
    was detained incommunicado in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan by
    the US before being taken to the US for trial. The whereabouts of her
    children was also not known for lengthy periods and it is understood
    that one of them died in custody. There are also reports that Dr.
    Asfia Siddiqui has suffered significant damage to her physical and
    mental health as a result of her treatment. Furthermore, her family
    has reportedly been threatened with reprisals if they talk to the
    media concerning this case2.

    The government of Pakistan has still not initiated a probe into
    allegations that the Pakistani military is using missing girls and
    women as sex slaves, or the wider problem of forced disappearances.

    Recommendations:

    The Human Rights Council must intervene immediately and credibly to
    ensure that the government of Pakistan:

    1- Constitutes a high-level judicial commission with wide-ranging
    powers to probe the cases of disappearances throughout Pakistan,
    notably those perpetrated under the war on terror as well as the
    cases the women who are being detained in the militarys torture
    cells and are being used as sex slaves. This should begin with the
    case of Ms. Zarina Marri, who is thought to be being detained in a
    military torture cell at the Corp Commanders office in Karachi.

    2- Provides all necessary legal support to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and
    probes her disappearance for more than five years during the military
    government of General Musharraf.

    3- Ensures the immediate release by the intelligence agencies of all
    disappeared persons.

    4- Ensures that the military immediately allow access to all places
    of detention and closes the at-least 52 torture cells that it is
    operating.

    5- All allegations of arbitrary and/or incommunicado detention, sex
    slavery, torture, extra-judicial killings and/or disappearances must
    be investigated without delay by an independent and well resourced
    body, and all persons found responsible should be tried, with
    adequate reparation being provided to the victims and/or their
    families.
    ———–
    Footnotes:
    Please see further at:
    http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2006/1666/
    Please see for further information concerning this case:
    http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2008/2947/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1639/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1642/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1681/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1689/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1690/
    http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2008statements/1714/
    # # #
    About ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent
    regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative
    status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It
    is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The
    Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive
    action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels
    throughout Asia.
    —————————–
    Asian Human Rights Commission
    19/F, Go-Up Commercial Building,
    998 Canton Road, Kowloon, Hongkong S.A.R.
    Tel: +(852) – 2698-6339 Fax: +(852) – 2698-6367

  5. y baloch resister killed innocent people?

  6. many people killed by resisters about 1000 common people in one year

  7. innocent people killed by baloch resisters wt u say what is thisZ?no freedom fight can win to kill innocent people

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