Karima Baloch poses for a photograph at her home in Toronto. Twitter photo
Police in Toronto said on Tuesday they are not treating the death of a prominent Pakistani activist as suspicious.
Police in Toronto termed the death of Baloch rights activist Karima Baloch, who went missing over the weekend before being found dead, as "non-criminal."
Karima Baloch, 37, who hailed from Balochistan and was also known as Karima Mehrab, went missing on Sunday in Toronto’s downtown waterfront area. She was living in the Canadian city in exile for about five years. Police said her body was found on Monday.
"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.
Karima Baloch, was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Police said she was known to frequent Toronto’s waterfront and island areas. "Earlier today, we confirmed a 37-year-old woman was sadly located deceased on Monday, December 21, 2020.
"The circumstances have been investigated and officers have determined this to be a non-criminal death and no foul play is suspected," the police said on Twitter. It added that Karima's family had been updated on the findings.
Karima was a prominent student organiser who campaigned for Balochistan’s rights and later moved to Canada amid threats. She was named one of the BBC’s 100 inspirational and influential women of 2016.
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According to her Twitter profile, Karima was the former chairperson of the Baloch Students Organisation — Azad and the Baloch National Front (BNF) Balochistan. She was a vocal campaigner for Baloch rights and missing persons.
"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.
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