Thursday Nov 16 2017

Swiss slap ‘lifetime ban’ on Mehran Marri

Mehran Marri. Photo: File 

LONDON: Swiss government has slapped a “lifetime entry ban” on exiled Baloch leader Mehran Marri.

Geo News has exclusively learned from its credible sources that the ban was placed on the request of the Pakistani government, which handed over a dossier to the government of Switzerland alleging that Marri — who is widely known as Mehran Baloch — has links with militant groups in Balochistan.

On Thursday, Marri arrived at Zurich airport with his wife and four children, when he was stopped by the immigration officers. 

Sources said that Swiss government’s foreign ministry officials met him and handed him a dossier of eight pages explaining why his immigration into Switzerland will not be allowed. Swiss government sources have confirmed that the “lifetime entry ban” on Mehran Marri was placed on November 9.

Marri was arrested and detained as soon as he reached the airport with his wife and family, Swiss government sources confirmed. 

The source added that Marri has the right to appeal against the decision of the Swiss government but “for now his entry is banned”.

Sources also said that Pakistan’s Foreign Office has been in touch with the Swiss authorities about Marri and his brother-in-law, Brahumdagh Bugti, who lives permanently in Geneva on asylum. 

Both had announced that they will hold a major conference on Balochistan in the Swiss capital on November 18 to bring together various Baloch leaders from Europe to announce a joint strategy.

Baloch sources confirmed to that Marri was on his way to Geneva when he was denied entry by the Swiss government. 

A Baloch source also confirmed that Marri refused to accept the charges levelled against him and told the immigration authorities that he will appeal against the decision. He reportedly told the immigration authorities that there is no proof of his association with any violent group and allegations against him are political.

A source at the Pakistan Foreign Office said that the “dossiers” given to the Swiss government have the full account of activities of both Bugti and Marri. He said that action against Marri was important.

Marri, a leading figure in Baloch nationalism, has always insisted that he has never been involved in militancy and has no links with the BLA. He claims to have only supported the political struggle and has never been charged.

The exiled Baloch leader has been stopped regularly at various European airports in the past.

In March 2007, it emerged that that then government of Pervez Musharraf sought the extradition of Marri from the UK government in exchange for the return of Rashid Rauf, a 26-year-old from Birmingham, who was involved in plotting terror attacks against Britain. Musharraf had also called for the extradition of Mehran’s brother, Ghazain Marri, who also lived in London at that time. Marri’s brother Hyrbyair Marri lives in London with his family and has kept a low profile.

Mehran Marri, a British national, has been holding events regularly in Geneva and Brussels and has been active at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for nearly two decades. His entry ban deals a blow to his activism. He has been previously arrested in London but was released without any charge.