|Died|| (aged 35)|
|Resting place||Killa Saifullah, Balochistan, Pakistan|
|Alma mater||University of Balochistan, Quetta|
|Occupation||professor, human rights activist, poet|
|Employer||Degree College Quetta, Degree College Killa Saifullah|
|Organization||Pashtun Progressive Writers|
|Movement||Pashtun Tahafuz Movement|
|Relatives||Wrranga Loni (sister)|
Mohammad Ibrahim Arman Loni (Pashto: محمد ابراهیم ارمان لوڼی), commonly known as Arman Loni (or Arman Luni), was a professor of Pashto literature, poet, and one of the leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). Arman died on February 2, 2019 after he and his sister, Wrranga Loni, participated at a protest sit-in outside Loralai Press Club. The four-day sit-in had been held by PTM activists to protest against the 2019 Loralai attack, in which eight policemen and a civilian had been killed by gunmen and suicide bombers affiliated with the Taliban on January 29. According to officials from Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), Arman Loni was tortured to death by the police. However, postmortem report rejected PTM officials claim. Postmortem reports have shown that there were "no torture marks on Arman Loni's dead body". Similarly, the police officials also claim that Arman Loni died as result of Heart attack
Mohsin Dawar claimed that an application to lodge a first information report (FIR) for the murder was submitted against the prime suspect ASP Attaur Rehman. The police, however, refused to lodge an FIR, which was criticized by Shireen Mazari, the Human Rights Minister of Pakistan. On February 3, the Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan took notice of Arman's death and sought an official report from the commissioner of Zhob Division within 48 hours. On February 4, the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and other allied political parties observed a 'shutter down' strike throughout the Pashtun part of Balochistan in protest against the murder. PTM held widespread protests in reaction to Arman's murder, during which more than 20 of its activists, including Gulalai Ismail and Abdullah Nangyal, were arrested by Pakistani authorities. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on Pakistani officials to transparently investigate the death, with the former also calling on the authorities to immediately release the PTM activists arrested for protesting against the murder.
Arman was survived by his wife and three children.
Early life and education
The eldest of three siblings, Arman belonged to a modest family from Sanjawi in the Ziarat District of Balochistan, Pakistan. He belonged to the Loni Durrani tribe of the Pashtuns. His father was a driver. Arman received his early education in Sanjawi and completed his master's degree in Pashto at the University of Balochistan, Quetta. While pursuing his education, Arman started working seasonally at coal mines and part-time as a tailor to support himself financially. Despite the economic hardships, Arman started taking part in political activities of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party and became a human rights activist during his student life. Later on, Arman also pursued his Master of Philosophy degree. He wrote a thesis on "using metaphors in Pashto folklore literature against colonial enemies", a topic which mirrored his political thoughts.
Career and political activism
After his master's degree, Arman successfully passed the Balochistan Public Service Commission test in 2012 and became a lecturer of Pashto literature at Degree College Quetta. He was the founder of "Pashtun Progressive Writers" (پښتانه مترقي لیکوال, Paṣhtānə Mutaraqī Līkwāl), an organization aimed at nurturing the new generation of Pashtun authors.
Already a political activist of the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, Arman joined the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement ("Pashtun Protection Movement") in February 2018, along with his young sister Wrranga. Both of them actively took part in organizing the PTM public gatherings, usually traveling to the gathering site a week earlier to help run awareness campaigns among the locals. At the gatherings, Wrranga would mostly give speeches from the stage but Arman would usually prefer to be behind the scenes. His family was threatened by Pakistani law enforcement agencies and pro-government tribal leaders (masharān) for their activities in the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. The Loni tribal chief warned Arman to stop his activities and told him that the agencies would not tolerate it. Consequently, Arman's family was forced to move from Sanjawi to Killa Saifullah, the hometown of Nawab Ayaz Jogezai, the Pashtun tribal chief who offered them refuge. Arman then transferred himself from Degree College Quetta to Degree College Killa Saifullah to live with his family.
At the time of the death, the four-day sit-in in Loralai held by PTM activists to protest against the 2019 Loralai attack had ended temporarily, and after negotiating with the government the participants were peacefully dispersing. According to Arman's sister, Wrranga Loni: “Arman was participating in the Loralai sit-in and left after talks with the government. But the police then attacked the protesters. One of the policemen hit Arman on his head, due to which he died on the spot.”
Some police officers, however, alleged that Arman was not beaten and claimed that he died of a heart attack.
On March 5, 2019, the standing committee on human rights in the Senate of Pakistan condemned the police for refusing to lodge a first information report (FIR) for Arman's death. The committee ordered the police to lodge an FIR and launch an inquiry against the accused police officers.
Late on February 3, the Islamic funeral prayer for Arman was performed in Killa Saifullah. PTM leaders Manzoor Pashteen, Ali Wazir, and Mohsin Dawar were banned by the Pakistani government from entering Balochistan for Arman's funeral prayer, but they still succeeded in travelling to Killa Saifullah and participated in the funeral prayer. However, they were ordered by the government to leave Balochistan within the night. This move was condemned by the Pakistan Peoples Party senator Farhatullah Babar. Pashteen told that on their way back, a security escort opened fire on the car transporting himself, Ali Wazir, and Mohsin Dawar, but they were unharmed. The firing incident was condemned by the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party senator Usman Kakar and the human rights minister Shireen Mazari.
During the burial ceremony in Killa Saifullah, Manzoor Pashteen, Wrranga Loni, and Nawab Ayaz Jogezai made speeches to the public. Pashteen said: “They killed our youth, beheaded our elders, destroyed our homes, dishonored our mothers and sisters. They still chase our youth. It reached a point where they even prevent us from attending our funerals. In such circumstances, when you block all our options and ways for negotiations, we will forcibly find a way. Then we will show you the power of Pashtuns.”
Absentee funeral prayers were performed for Arman in many cities and towns of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries, including Jalalabad, Asadabad, Khost, Peshawar, Dera Ismail Khan, and Karachi on February 3, Kabul, Kandahar, Gardez, Sharana, Puli Alam, and Zhob on February 4, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Ghazni, Qalati Ghilji, Bannu, and Barikot (Swat) on February 5, and Kunduz on February 7. In Bamyan, a protest gathering for Arman was held on February 14 in front of the Buddhas of Bamyan to condemn his murder.
Human rights organizations
More than 20 activists of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, including Gulalai Ismail and Abdullah Nangyal, were arrested by the Pakistani government during protests against Arman's murder. Rabia Mehmood, South Asia Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, stated: “These protestors must be released immediately and unconditionally. They are prisoners of conscience and have done nothing but exercise their peaceful and lawful right to protest against human rights violations and call for end to them. It is shocking that the Pakistani authorities have resorted to such heavy-handed methods even as senior government officials have clearly acknowledged that the PTM has legitimate grievances that must be addressed. To add insult to injury, the crackdown follows the horrific death of Arman Luni, one of PTM’s activists.”
Brad Adams, executive director of the Asian division of Human Rights Watch, said: “Pakistani officials should recognize the country’s diversity as a strength and not a weakness. The government should listen to and engage the concerns of the country’s many communities and allow for peaceful expression of dissent. As a start, the authorities should ensure the investigation into the death of Arman Luni is effective and transparent.”
Condemning the murder of Arman and the crackdown by Pakistani authorities against the nonviolent PTM activists, Ashraf Ghani, the President of Afghanistan, tweeted: “The Afghan government has serious concerns about the violence perpetrated against peaceful protestors and civil activists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.” He further said: “We believe it is the moral responsibility of every government to support civil activities that take a stand against the terrorism and extremism that plagues and threatens our region and collective security.”
However, Mujib Rahman Rahimi, the spokesman of Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, criticised Ashraf Ghani and termed his remarks as interference in another country's affairs. Rahimi said that the issues around PTM are "an internal matter of Pakistan. Afghanistan is not in a position which will interfere in others’ affairs. We have many problems and issues inside our country and it is better to address them first."
Opposition parties in Pakistan
Referring to the 'shutter down' strike in Balochistan on February 4, the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party senator Usman Kakar said in his speech to mourners: “This entire region is seething with anger. This is why everywhere from Quetta [in the south] to Sherani in the north is voluntarily observing a complete shutdown.”
The initial autopsy conducted by Saleem Abro, the medical superintendent of Quetta's Civil Sandeman hospital, concluded that there were "no torture marks on his body". Saleem Abro stated that Arman Loni's medical reports including the X-rays, were sent to a forensic laboratory in Lahore to ascertain the cause of death. Abro claimed that the postmortem was conducted in the presence of "10 health experts, including the ones which were recommended by the family members of the deceased."
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