Mehran Marri — son of Balochistan nationalist movement’s stalwart Khair Bux Marri (late) — has been detained at Zurich airport for three hours by the Swiss authorities at “the behest of the Pakistan government”, he tweeted on Thursday night.
The Baloch nationalist leader and Baloch rights activist, who currently resides in the UK, tweeted: “Friends, I have been detained at Zurich Airport for the last few hours and I feel I am under arrest by the Swiss authorities on request of the Pakistan government.”
Friends, I have been detained at Zurich Airport for the last few hours and feel I am under arrest by Swiss authorities on request of the Pakistan Govt.
My wife and children are also with me in detention.
Don’t worry, being detained is nothing new for the Baloch… (1/2)
— Mehran Marri (@MehranMarri) November 16, 2017
Marri was detained by the immigration officials along with his wife and children when he reached the airport on Thursday.
Showing frustration over the detainment by the Swiss authorities in violations of the basic human rights, he said, “If it had been Pakistan or China, I would have shrugged it off, but I never imagined Swiss authorities would take mug shots of my four-year-old son and seven-year-old children as detainees.”
Marri said that the Swiss authorities also imposed a lifetime ban on him “at the request of Islamabad”, alleging that the Pakistani military was behind the detention as he maintained that the “long arm of Pakistani generals reaches far beyond their bank accounts”.
A private media outlet reported that Marri had the right to appeal against the decision of the Swiss government but “for now his entry is banned”. The Pakistan government officials, as quoted by a private TV channel, said: “The ‘dossiers’ given to the Swiss government have the full account of activities of both [Brahumdagh ] Bugti and Marri, adding that the action against Marri was important.”
Marri reportedly refused to accept the charges levelled against him and told the immigration authorities that he would appeal against the decision. He denies the charges levelled against him, saying they were political in nature and had nothing to do with his involvement in militant activities. His twitter handle says he is a representative of Balochistan at the UNHRC and EU.
Pakistan authorities have repeatedly levelled allegations against Marri for his involvement with the banned Baloch outfits, especially Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) in fomenting anti-state activities in the restive province of Balochistan, which Marri denies.
Mehran Marri’s detention was met with mixed responses over the microblogging site–Twitter. Brahumdagh Bugti “shocked” by the detention tweeted that he did not expect that from a “neutral” country.
Really shocked that Mehran Marri was stopped at Zürich airport and banned to enter Switzerland on Islamabad’s request. How a neutral country like Switzerland can do that. Looking forward to meeting with Swiss authorities
— Brahumdagh Bugti (@BBugti) November 16, 2017
I strongly condemn the detention of Mehran Marri-Chief of the Marri Tribe and Rep. of the Baloch people to the UN at Zurich along with his wife & children. How can Switzerland -Home to the UNHRC-surrender basic human rights under pressure from Generals of Pakistan?
— Junaid Qureshi (@JQ_plaintalk) November 16, 2017
Thank you @HofSwitzerland for banning & detaining commander of UBA terroist group Mehran Marri.
Pakistanis hope same action is taken against sister orgs & allies of UBA & their commanders are extradited for they are responsible for massacres like in kech #Turbat yesterday.
— Asfandyar Bhittani (@BhittaniKhannnn) November 16, 2017
Marri along with Brahumdagh Bugti—son of Nawab Akbar Bugti—had announced to hold a major conference on Balochistan Geneva on November 18 to bring together various Baloch leaders from Europe to form a joint strategy. However, after his detention at the airport, Marri also criticised Switzerland for being a headquarters of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, saying “so much for the Geneva UNHRC being the world capital of human rights”.
Marri’s detention comes on the heels of the emergence of ‘Free Balochistan’ posters in London recently—twice—and in Geneva during the United Nations General Assembly meeting earlier this year, which had irked Pakistani authorities to a large extent.
After the emergence of posters in Geneva, Pakistan had launched a complaint to the Swiss authorities, saying “Any notion of ‘Free Balochistan’ is a flagrant attack on [the] sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.”
The Foreign Office spokesperson had blamed India for the emergence of the anti-Pakistan posters in Geneva, Switzerland. Moreover, Pakistan had linked the posters to the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), which, he said, is a “listed terrorist organisation under the laws of Pakistan and other countries, including the United Kingdom.”