September 15, 2012

How Brahamdagh Bugti got Swiss asylum

our correspondentTuesday, September 11, 2012
From Print Edition
ISLAMABAD: A Baloch rights campaigner played a leading role in convincing the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and western countries that Baloch leader Brahamdagh Bugti must be given sanctuary in a safe European country.
Munir Mengal’s Baloch Voice Foundation, a Paris-based NGO, appointed Madam Bruna Molina as its legal representative in May 2010 to work on the asylum case of Brahamdagh Bughti and the members of his family while the Baloch leader was going through a difficult time in Afghanistan. Brahamdagh Bugti reached Switzerland in late October 2010 and has been living there ever since on political asylum.
After Brahumdagh reached Switzerland, many people claimed to have helped him but a spokesman for Bugti particularly denied that Munir Mengal had played any role in helping Bugti to leave Afghanistan. Sher Mohammed Bugti, official spokesman for the Balochistan Republican Party, had said: “I would say that Baloch nation knows the career of Nawab Sahab very well and they know (this) as well that Nawab Sahab doesn’t need any kind of help from Munir Mengal or someone else.”
Although Mr Mengal is silent on this issue and refuses to discuss the matter but the papers seen by this correspondent during the investigative efforts indicate the highest level of diplomacy involvement of the world powers in Brahamdagh Bugti’s asylum case as well as the determined struggle by a small NGO.
On August 23, 2010, Molina wrote to Munir Mengal about the letters written to the president, minister and to the United Nations Human Rights Commission for Refugees in support of Bugti’s asylum claim. On August 23, 2010, a letter was written to Molina by a member of the UNHCR informing her in confidentiality that its representative “in Argentina has been called to see the minister in Uruguay about this case next week”.
A high-powered meeting took place in Dubai in the first week of August 2010 where the issue of Bugti’s “transfer to the airport and the connection to Uruguay at the airport in San Paolo” was addressed. On April 16, 2009 UNHCR’s Bangkok worker Babar Baloch wrote to Munir Mengal and sent him a letter from the UNHCR Representative in Pakistan, Ms Guenet Guebre-Christos, in which the case of Bugti was discussed. These correspondences were passed either through diplomatic channels or through UNHCR.

The official record shows that on 03-05-2010, Brahamdagh Bugti appealed to the UNHCR officials – Philip Alston, Special Rapportuer on Summary and or Arbitrary Executions and Manfred Nowak, Special Rapportuer on Torture – on the letterhead of Balochistan Voice Foundation appealing for political asylum in accordance with the refugee convention for “myself and my family, namely my mother Fozia, my wife Shomaila, my three children, daughter Payafi, sons Bairam and Shabaz M Akbar, as well as my cousin Shaiba with hope that your intervention will prevent the government forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where we are hiding, to torture and to execute myself and my family if they find our whereabouts”.
The letter continued: “At this stage a strong military offensive is taking place in Afghanistan. I and my family are totally unprotected. We are suffering from a terrible trauma. We have been hiding for more than three years. Since my grandfather’s death, assassinated by the Pakistan Army in 2006, our lives have been in constant danger.
In the asylum application to the UNHCR, Bugti stated that he left Pakistan on 17-03-2005. In the means of travel out of home country, he wrote, “after bombardment of Dera Bugti, we left home for life safety by hiding ourselves, on foot and by camels, and used Chaman border as the exit point from home country”.
But it is believed that after reaching safely in Geneva, relations between Munir Mengal and Brahumdagh Bugti soared for reasons unknown.
In an email exchange, Bruna Molina, a former UN Staff member from the Office of Legal Affairs and Human Right in whose apartment Bugti initially stayed, confirmed that “Munir Mengal played an essential role in securing asylum in Switzerland for Brahumdagh Bugti.
Molina said because of Bugti’s background and the “demarches” undertaken by Pakistan, no government would grant him asylum. “In fact, it was a set of circumstances and regulations, carefully orchestrated, that had allowed him to travel to Geneva first, and a few weeks later his family.
“On my instructions they followed the strict Swiss regulations for asylum. I have supported them throughout their procedures. At present they are waiting for their final decision from the Swiss government, she said. “If Munir Mengal was not as determined to follow his case, I can assure you that Bugti would still be in Dubai hiding. But Bugti dropped all people who had assisted him. I came to the conclusion that the only interest of the Bugti and Mari families is to secure and recover their possessions and wealth in Baluchistan. Human Rights is a good subject to bring their case forward at the UN,” she said.


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