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March 1, 2010

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: No clues as to whereabouts of Ehsan Arjemandi - Iran denies extradition

The Asian Human Rights Commission has received conflicting information about Mr. Ehsan Arjemandi, a Norwegian citizen. The Federal Interior minister previously announced that had been extradited to Iran on September 6, 2009 where he was wanted on several charges, however, it is now believed that he is still being held in custody in Pakistan.

Mr. Arjemandi, who arrived in Pakistan in August, 2009 for the first time in twenty years to see his relatives (in Balochistan province, Turbat and Mand) was on an intercity Aslam Dandahi Coach on August 7 to Karachi, when up to twenty vehicles intercepted the bus on the Zero Point Coastal Highway near the Uthal check post, about 12km from Uthal city. According to eyewitnesses, a group of armed men boarded the bus, covered his head with a black blanket and took him away in unmarked jeeps. Please see the link the urgent appeal issued on his disappearance; http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2009/3235/. He had been missing for almost a month when the government announced that he had been extradited to Iran.

Ehsan Arjemandi’s elder brother, Mohammad Arjemandi, informed the AHRC that the government of Pakistan has failed to reply to the letters from the by Chargés d’affaires of the Norway Embassy requesting information on disappearance of Arjemandi and news of his extradition. In October 2009 the Iranian government officially informed the Norwegian Embassy in Islamabad that Ehsan Arjumandi has not been transferred to Iran from Pakistan.

Mr. Terje Barstad, minister at Norwegian Embassy, Islamabad, has confirmed to Mr. Mohammad in January, 2010 that he received a report that Mr. Ehsan is in Pakistani custody in Quetta city, the capital of Balochistan province. Mr. Mohammad is maintaining continuous contact with the Norwegian Embassy who has acknowledged that Mr. Ehsan is citizen of Norway and it is their responsibility to locate the whereabouts of their citizens.

A Baloch-speaking army officer confirmed to the family that Mr. Ehsan Arjemandi is in military custody in Malir Cantonment, Karachi, the capital of Sindh province. He says that Ehsan is suffering from high blood pressure, diabetes type 2 and hepatitis C. The army source informed the family that Ehsan would be of very importance, particularly in the context of developments in the region.

There is fear that Ehsan may have been killed during his illegal detention and alleged torture and that the story that he has been extradited is merely to convince the family that the Pakistan authorities are no longer holding him.

This is not the first case of alleged disinformation about missing persons. The National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) of government of Pakistan had announced that Mr. Zakir Majeed, a student leader of Balochistan, has been released and returned home on January 22 but the news proved to be false and he remains missing. It is feared that he might have been killed.

Disappearances and extrajudicial killings during detention have become a way of dealing with opponents in Balochistan where the army has so much power the civilian government cannot interfere in their affairs. The law and order has been handed over to the Frontier Corp (FC), a Para military force, instead of the police, and therefore, the proper and legal way of handling the crimes has been eroded and law has become subservient of the Paramilitary forces. When the process of law is not allowed to take the legal course then government has to rely on the conflicting and false information provided by the security forces. The behaviour of the law enforcement agencies in the Balochistan is no more than that of a colonial power who does not even allow people to gather in wedding ceremonies and memorial services. Please see the following links; http://www.ahrchk.net/statements/mainfile.php/2009statements/1865/  

It is without doubt the foremost responsibility of the government to provide correct and true information about Mr. Ehsan Arjemandi who was arrested in August 7. The civilian government is now following the same methods against the people of Balochistan as the military government of Pervez Musharraf did before. The government should immediately take steps to recover him safely from detention.

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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.

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