Thousands brave Quetta's freezing temperatures for third day
Thousands of Hazaras have been protesting in freezing temperatures on the western bypass near Quetta alongside the bodies of miners killed in an attack in Machh. The protest entered its third day on Tuesday.
Ten labourers from the Hazara community were killed and three injured at a coal mine in Balochistan’s Machh, the police said on Sunday. According to the Levies force, the incident took place late Saturday night near Bolan. Bolan Deputy Commissioner Murad Kasi revealed that the labourers lived in Hazara Town.
The protesters said that they will not bury the miners till the attackers are arrested. Prime Minister Imran Khan should meet us and personally assure us that security will be provided to us, a protester said.
“We have lost many of our loved ones in bombings and targeted attacks,” said Hameeda Fida, a protester. “We have picked up bodies of our loved ones for far too long but this case is the worst because of the government’s negligence.” The men were attacked and killed at 11pm or 12am between Monday night and Sunday morning but it was reported at 8am. This just shows how little they care about our lives, she added.
“We are out here in the cold because we want justice,” Fida remarked. “The Balochistan CM wouldn’t even be able to sit here for more than five minutes but enough is enough. We want our rights.”
Another woman, Baseera, said that the Hazaras just want their right to life. “We have brought our pain and suffering here. Our brothers and fathers have been killed in targeted attacks.” The government should, at least, assure us that such incidents wouldn’t occur in the future.
“Please don’t kill our children,” said another woman. “How long will this continue? I have been sitting here for the safety of my children.”
Estimates suggest that over 500 Hazaras have been killed in targeted attacks in the last five years. SAMAA Digital has managed to track at least 22 major attacks from 2003 to 2021 that killed 489 people, click here to read about the attacks.
Many protesters claimed that Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal or any other representative of the Balochistan Assembly hasn’t come to hold any negotiations with them.
Where is our CM, asked one protester. “Why isn’t he here?”
On Tuesday, Liaquat Shahwani, the spokesperson of the Balochistan government, said that the CM is currently in Dubai. “He went there on vacations with his family,” he told SAMAA TV.
Shahwani remarked that the CM will return to the country tonight or tomorrow morning because of the urgency of the situation.
“It is very unfortunate that the Hazaras are targetted so commonly in our country,” he remarked. “They have been restricted to their neighbourhood. They can’t even travel or leave their houses.” The situation is, however, not as bad as it was before, Shahwani claimed.
The minister announced that Rs2.5 million would be given to the families of the victims. The negotiations remained unsuccessful as the Hazaras refused to end their protest.
Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed offering Fateha for the persons of Hazara Community while negotiating at the sit in in Quetta. pic.twitter.com/nXHLNlYVIP— Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (@ShkhRasheed) January 4, 2021
“On behalf of the prime minister, I am requesting you, and I expect you not to reject it, bury your martyrs,” the minister told the protesters and assured them that the killers of the Hazara coal miners will be brought to justice.