Prominent Baloch activist Karima Baloch was found dead in the Canadian city of Toronto on Monday night, The Indian Express reported. The 37-year-old was last seen on December 20, the police said, without giving any immediate reason for her death.
The human rights activist had campaigned for Balochistan’s separation from Pakistan, and fled to Canada amid threats. She had been living in Toronto since 2015, seeking political asylum.
The Toronto Police released few details about her death. Mike Butt, a detective, told Reuters that her death has been “deemed a non-criminal incident”.
Amnesty International South Asia said Baloch’s death was shocking and should be “effectively investigated”, while the Human Rights Council of Balochistan urged the Canadian government to look into the matter. “She defeated patriarchy and took over a nationalist struggle in midst of ruthless state suppression,” the council tweeted. “She remains a beacon of human rights and human dignity.”
In his 2016 Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an outreach to the people of Balochistan. Days after that, Baloch had called the prime minister her brother and urged him to be the voice of “Baloch genocide, war crimes and human rights violations at international forums”.
The activist was also the first woman chairperson of the Baloch Students Organisation Azad faction (BSO-A), which has been calling for the independence of Pakistan’s ethnic Baloch areas and at the forefront of documenting alleged human rights violations there.
Baloch was named as one of BBC’s 100 inspirational and influential women of 2016. “A national liberation movement without the participation of women is incomplete,” she had told the British broadcaster.