Canada police say Pakistani rights activist's death not suspicious

Karima Baloch. — ANI file
Karima Baloch. — ANI file

Toronto - The body of 37-year-old Karima Baloch was found near Toronto’s downtown waterfront on Monday, a day after she had been reported missing


Published: Wed 23 Dec 2020, 7:28 AM

Police in Toronto said on Tuesday that they are not treating the death of a prominent Pakistani dissident as suspicious.

Authorities said the body of 37-year-old Karima Mehrab was found near Toronto’s downtown waterfront on Monday, a day after she had been reported missing.

“It is currently being investigated as a non-criminal death and there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances,” Toronto police spokeswoman Caroline de Kloet said.

Mehrab, also known as Karima Baloch, was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Police said she was known to frequent Toronto’s waterfront and island areas.

Mehrab was a vocal critic of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. She for years had campaigned for those people who go missing in Pakistan, and her death alarmed human rights activists.

“The death of activist #KarimaBaloch in Toronto, Canada is deeply shocking and must be immediately and effectively investigated. The perpetrators must be brought to justice without recourse to the death penalty,” Amnesty International South Asia said in a tweet.

Lateef Johar, a close friend and fellow activist, said he did not believe it was suicide or an accident.

“Her husband showed me some messages that he got a few days ago. It was a message they will send a Christmas gift to Karima that she will never forget, and other related messages, too,” Johar said.

He said police told them they found her body in water close to Toronto Centre Island.

“Her family and I can’t believe that it was an accident or something else as we know she was threatened; her friends and family members were previously were abducted and killed,” Johar said.

He said he didn’t think she suffered from depression but was prescribed sleeping pills recently. He said she was very strong.

“She has enemies that are the state,” he said.

Pakistan’s High Commission in Canada said in a statement it approached the Canadian government to find out the cause of death.

Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan has for years been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatist groups and nationalists who complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of their province’s resources and wealth.

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