"Karima's death was not only a tragedy for the family"
Pakistani human rights activist Karima Baloch was found dead in Toronto, Canada on December 21, 2020.
It was reported that the 35-year-old had gone missing on December 20, 2020.
A day later, she was found dead under unexplained circumstances in Harbourfront, Toronto.
Baloch was a campaigner from the region of Balochistan in western Pakistan.
She was a vocal critic of the Pakistani Government and had actively worked to highlight human rights violations perpetrated upon people in Balochistan.
Baloch had escaped Pakistan to seek refuge in Canada in 2016, claiming that her life was in danger in her home country.
In 2016, the BBC had included Baloch in their ‘BBC 100 Women 2016’ list for her work involving “campaigns for independence for Balochistan from Pakistan.”
— Karima Baloch (@KarimaBaloch) November 21, 2016
Baloch used her social media profile to highlight the human rights violations that people in Balochistan were being subjected to by the Pakistan Government and army.
In her activism, Baloch had placed emphasis on fighting for the rights of Balochi women.
She had highlighted how the legal system and religious groups in Pakistan would use state and social machinery to intentionally target women.
Karima Baloch had also raised the issue of gender inequality in Pakistan at the United Nations.
During the 39th Session of the Human Rights Council in 2018, the Pakistani activist stated:
“If a woman is killed by her brother in the name of honour, Islamic law allows him to settle the case with the father or the rest of the family.
“In most of the cases, the family forgives the murderer who goes scot-free.
“The testimony of two women is equal to one man in Pakistan, as such rape cases are less likely to be decided in favour of the victims.”
The Baloch National Movement has announced 40 days of mourning for Karima Baloch.
Karima Baloch’s sister Mahganj Baloch said:
“Karima’s death was not only a tragedy for the family, but also for the Baloch national movement.
“She didn’t go abroad because she wanted to, but because open activism in Pakistan had become impossible.”
In her last tweet on December 14, the activist had shared a news report by The Guardian:
Kidnap, torture, murder: the plight of Pakistan’s thousands of disappeared | Global development | The Guardian https://t.co/PFPjcqGw4x
— Karima Baloch (@KarimaBaloch) December 14, 2020
Toronto police have stated that Karima Baloch was last seen on December 20, 2020, in the Bay Street and Queens Quay West area in Toronto.
Neither the Toronto police nor Baloch’s family has issued a statement.