Islamabad, Jan 3 (EFE).- Shopkeepers in Balochistan province in southern Pakistan brought down their shutters on Wednesday in support of the hundreds of Baloch protesters camped in Islamabad, demanding an end to extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances.
The Baloch Yakjehti Committee (BYC), one of the organizations behind the protests, said the closure of shops comes because the authorities have avoided meeting the demands of the protesters, who had given a seven-day ultimatum that ended Wednesday.
“On completion of 7-day ultimatum of Baloch Yakjehti Committee’s ongoing movement against Baloch genocide, shutter down strike continues across Pakistan,” BYC said on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), and shared images of closed shops in various parts of the province.
Hundreds of protesters have camped in Islamabad since late December to demand an end to forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings against the Baloch community, as well as a United Nations led investigation into human rights violations in Balochistan.
The protest had begun with a women-led march departing from the town of Turbat in the southern province.
When the protesters tried to enter Islamabad two weeks ago, they were suppressed with batons, tear gas and security forces water tanks.
More than 350 people were arrested, but were later released on orders from the Islamabad High Court.
The march began on Dec. 6 in the wake of an alleged extrajudicial execution of a young Baloch man by officials of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD).
The man, Balaach Baloch, was arrested on Nov. 20 for allegedly carrying five kilograms of explosives.
He died two days later in an exchange of fire after collaborating with authorities to dismantle an insurgent shelter, according to the CTD.
His family has accused the CTD of extrajudicially killing their son and claimed that the young man was forcibly taken from his home on Oct. 29, a month earlier than when the Pakistani authorities claim.
Baloch insurgent groups have been attacking security forces for nearly two decades in Balochistan, accusing Islamabad of unfairly exploiting the province’s rich natural resources. EFE