LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) notes with grave concern that the government continues to neglect coalminers’ right to life and security of person in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The murder of three coalminers in Marwar, Balochistan, on 24 August is at least the second such incident in 2021, after 11 coalminers were kidnapped by armed militants and shot dead in Mach in January this year. In addition, the discovery in April of the remains of 16 coal miners in Shangla, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who were abducted and murdered almost a decade ago, is a grim reminder that miners’ lives have long been considered expendable. Not only must they contend with hazardous working conditions, but they are also at great risk as a result of poor law and order in remote mining areas, where militant groups commonly extort protection money from colliery owners.
It is deeply ironic that security agencies reportedly impose an unofficial security charge on production—termed extortion by coalmine owners—and remain unable to provide the very security that is their job as public servants. HRCP demands that the inquiry into the Marwar killings be conducted swiftly and the perpetrators brought to justice. Given the circumstances, the state must provide miners in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa secure sites to work and compensate the families of those who have lost their lives as a result of sectarian or militant violence.