One Billion Rising: Global campaign against violence against women

Eve Ensler, founder of the One Billion Rising movement. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian.

The well known feminist activist, playwright and actor Eve Ensler has given a call for One Billion Rising campaign that aims to mobilise and bring out one billion people on streets across the world on February 14th, 2013 against violence against women, and in celebration of women’s power (One Billion Rising on Facebook).

Noted women activists from all over South Asia, including Kamla Bhasin of Sangat, OBR’s South Asian coordinator, were at the launch in Nepal. (Photo: WFS)

This, writes Ensler, “is a call to the billion women who have been violated and the men who love them, to the women who have been beaten and raped and mutilated and burned and sold and who know the destruction of the female species heralds the end of human kind. A call to walk out of your homes, your jobs, your schools and find your friends, your group, your place and music and dance” (‘One Billion Rising: Together we can end violence against women’, op-ed in The Guardian). Continue reading

Bengali “Crossfire” reaches U.S.

This is a slightly longer version of my interview of Bangladeshi photographer-activist Shahidul Alam published in Latitude News, May 4, 2012, with reference to his exhibition at Queen’s Museum in New York. The exhibition is an attempt to internationalise the issue of extra-judicial killings. Thousands have been killed in such ‘crossfire’, allegedly at the hands of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) that the U.S. and UK governments have been training and providing arms to.

In “Crossfire,” an exhibition of photographs at the Queens Museum of Art in New York that closes on Sunday the 6th, acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer and activist Shahidul Alam chronicles the extra-judicial killings allegedly committed by Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion, or RAB.Over a thousand victims have been ‘cross-fired,’ or executed by police without trial, in the last four years in the South Asian country, human rights activists claim. Many more people, perhaps thousands in total, have suffered similar fates, they say. Continue reading

Acid survivors fight back: a story of hope amidst despair

'Saving Face' co-directors, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy: American-Pakistani cooperation wins

My report for IPS, featuring an interview with Dr Mohammad Jawad, published before ‘Saving Face’ premiered on HBO on March 8, International Womens Day

Acid survivors fight back: a story of hope amidst despair

Beena Sarwar

BOSTON, March 8:  When the Oscar-nominated film ‘Saving Face’ won an Academy Award in Hollywood Best Documentary (Short Subject), it was the triumph of several ‘firsts’: the first time ever that a Pakistani filmmaker had won an Oscar; Pakistan’s first Oscar winner was a woman; and it was the first time that an American and a Pakistani had co-directed an Oscar-winning film. Continue reading

On Dec 16, 2011, remembering Anthony Mascarenhas

Thank you Mark Dummett, for the report in BBC today paying tribute to Anthony Mascarenhas, the brilliant and courageous Pakistani journalist who had to flee abroad in order to be able to tell the truth – Bangladesh war: The article that changed history.

Mascarenhas

“Eight journalists, including Mascarenhas, were given a 10-day tour of the province (East Pakistan). When they returned home, seven of them duly wrote what they were told to,” writes Dummett.

“But one of them refused.”

That was Mascarenhas, who died in 1986 in London.

His wife Yvonne Mascarenhas told Dummett that she remembers him coming back distraught: “I’d never seen my husband looking in such a state. Continue reading

Tareque Masud, Mishuk Munier killed in road crash :((

Mishuk Munier at The Real News (photo TRN)

Catherine, Tareque and Nishad (Daily Star)

Shocked and grieved beyond words at this tragic news about the road accident that killed prominent Bangladeshi filmmaker Tareque Masud (The Clay Bird)  and television journalist Mishuk Munier who helped start The Real News. Mishuk’s father Prof. Munier Chowdhury of Dhaka University was “perhaps the greatest dramatist and public speaker we ever had,” Bangladeshi journalist Afsan Chowdhury once told me. “That was in 1970 and i was in the first year  of college. Prof. Chowdhury was picked up by the Jamaatis and disappeared, his body was never found”. Tareque’s wife Catherine (my classmate in college) is severely injured and in hospital. Their Nishad is a toddler, barely a year and a half old. My heart goes out to her and to the families of those killed. Here’s a link to the report of the accident in The Star, Bangladesh. TRN’s obit of Mishuk here, and The Daily Star report today ‘Fate puts a full stop‘.

Pakistan army should butt out of politics: Asma Jahangir says it like it is


Clip from Crossfire in which Asma Jahangir, the indomitable Chairperson Emeritus of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, says it like it about the Pakistan armed forces, in a talk show with the  ever sensationalist Meher Bokhari, on Dunya TV on May 26, 2011. View the full programme at the PkPolitics website. The clip posted here starts Continue reading

PERSONAL POLITICAL: Sonar Bangla

Young riksha drivers in Dhaka. Photos: Beena Sarwar

My column Personal Political, written July 25, 2010, published in The News on Sunday and Hardnews. Subsequently the Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld a ruling that upheld a ban on using religion in politics. It won’t resolve all issues of course, but it’s a step forward and I hope we see that day in Pakistan in the not too distant future. I like Advocate G. M. Lakho’s stand: Say no to the state religion

Shonar Bangla

Beena Sarwar

Acha, yahan bhi constitutional amendments chal rahe hain,” observed a friend, scanning headlines in The Daily Star as we waited at Dhaka International Airport for a much-delayed flight to Karachi. Her comment about “constitutional amendments going on here also” highlighted something that’s always struck me as curious: the bizarre parallels of Bangladeshi politics with Pakistan, since Bangladesh gained independence from Pakistan in 1971. >

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