Karachi: Disappeared social worker at risk of torture

Abdul Qayyum, aka Wapa, was forcibly disappeared by security forces on 10 July from Shah Faisal Colony, Maleer in Karachi, the capital city of Sindh. His whereabouts remain unknown so far.

Abdul Qayum is General Secretary at OST organization. It is a welfare trust which aims to provide financial aids and assistance to needy patients through donations. He has been looking after the administrative management and on ground operations of the organization. Most of their beneficiaries are cancer patients from different parts of Balochistan.

The OST organization was established almost a year ago, when a 12 years old boy, Hammal Zafar was diagnosed with cancer and his family couldn’t afford his treatment. The youths of Balochistan launched a campaign and collected donations for Hammal’s treatment. After their initial successful campaign for Hammal, the team realized the need of a charity organization to support families who cannot afford expensive treatments. Later, Ost was established with the slogan “struggle for everyone, hope for needy ones”. The word OST means hope in Balochi language.

In Balochistan where people still die of malaria and tuberculosis, OST in a very short period of time gained trust and support of people and nationwide response. In his last Facebook post, Qayum said “OST had spent [more than] 0.7 million rupees on treatment of fifteen patients in last 10 days”.

People of Balochistan see abduction of Abdul Qayum as continuity of military’s oppressive policies. The military is engaged in a counter insurgency campaign in Balochistan for more than two decades, where armed nationalist groups and security forces attack each other regularly. Thousands of people have been abducted by military and were found dead later. The abductees include political leaders, students, writers, poets, singers and social activists. Abdul Qayum’s case is the first case of its kind where members of an established welfare and charity organization has been targeted by the security forces for unknown reasons. His family, friends and people of Balochistan fear for his life as military has a proven record of killing of innocent civilians from other fields of life for more than a decade.

Human Rights Council of Balochistan shares the fear and demands Mr. Qayum’s immediate release and if there are any charges against him, the military should respect and follow due course of law and produce him in court.

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