Zahid Baloch is a political refugee and torture victim from Baluchistan and a member of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden). He was arrested at an “internal border inspection” in Gothenburg on Thursday, 15 February.
In Pakistan, Zahid suffered terrible treatment at the hands of the country’s military. They had assaulted him so viciously that they thought he was dead. The injuries he sustained after the abuse and sexual violence by the Pakistani military are all documented.
His case is well-known among human rights activists in Baluchistan and internationally. Since he sought refuge in Sweden, he has become a well-known political activist internationally and his case has been discussed in the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Now, following a previous rejection in Norway, he has only three weeks to exercise his right to apply for asylum in Sweden under the ‘Dublin Regulation’.
Zahid, a member of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna ((CWI Sweden) and well-established activist, has been a speaker on many demonstrations in Sweden, such as ‘Black Lives Matter’, speaking out for the right to asylum, against racism and in solidarity with labour struggles globally. He is active in the tenants’ union in his area and a popular individual in the community and amongst children and young people.
The arrest of Zahid is part of an intensified police search for “illegal” immigrants in Sweden in order to carry out more deportations. The following day, February 16th, he was due to have an in-depth medical visit to his heart doctor. He has had two heart attacks in the last three years as a result of the torture he suffered and is regularly monitored. He has to take 15 different medicines, daily.
Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna has carried out two demonstrations outside the detention centre where Zahid is being held. The first was immediately last Thursday, demanding that he should be released and be allowed to get his medicine and see his doctor.
The team leader at the Migration Board in the detention centre decided that Zahid should not receive visits and that RS members could not hand over his medicines. It took three hours of loud demonstrations before we could deliver them.
This Monday, 19 February, 60 members and supporters gathered again outside the detention centre, this time also demanding Zahid’s right to visit the psychologist he has seen every week for three years to process his trauma from torture.
“I recall torture”
On Saturday, members of Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna were able to meet Zahid. He told Johannes Lundberg that he had not slept in 35 hours. He is very frightened about the situation and the future. “Being locked into narrow spaces causes me great anxiety and the feeling of being in a torture cell again,” said Zahid. “I remember the abuse, sexual violence and electric shock every time I close my eyes.
“They clenched me naked, crushed my ankles and broke my fingers. I have 32 stitches on my back, scars on my face and on my head after the torture. Only someone who experienced this can understand. These were the worst days in my life. But I survived; my two uncles and three cousins were murdered,” he recalled.
Johannes Lundberg told us: “Zahid broke down several times during our two-hour long meeting in spite of feeling the tremendous support and solidarity of comrades and friends here and internationally”.
Zahid was originally refused his asylum application in Norway but in Sweden his asylum case will be opened on 9 March. Should Zahid be deported to Norway, it would be a big danger to his life since Norway deports refugees to Pakistan.
The Pakistani state is fully aware of Zahid Baloch’s political activity in exile. A year ago, his father was severely beaten by the military, who asked questions about his son after Zahid spoke at a demonstration for Baluchistanis in Sweden.
We are asking for as much support as possible for Zahid. Take pictures in support of Zahid. Spread the appeal to as many as possible. Include the three demands – No deportation! Release Zahid now! Asylum for Zahid in Sweden!
Please send to:
The Director of the Swedish Migration Board: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Swedish Minister of Migration: email@example.com
The Migration Authority in Norway: firstname.lastname@example.org
and Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden): email@example.com