IN SOLIDARITY: Charlestown families honour Malala Yusufzai at Bunker Hill, Boston

Joanne Samuelson lights a candle for Malala

“Families in Charlestown are gathering on Bunker Hill monument on Sunday October 14 at 5:30 pm to hold a vigil for Malala Yousafzai. Please try to attend and spread the word, all welcome,” read the email circulated by the Pakistani Association of Greater Boston on behalf of Joanne Samuelson, a Boston resident who works at M.I.T.

The drizzly weather cleared away allowing the sun to come out in time to endorse the gathering at this historic spot in Charlestown, Boston, the site of a major battle between the revolutionaries and the British colonists.

A vigil at symbolic spot for a Pakistani girl seeking education: tyranny versus freedom.

Vigil organiser Joanne Samuelson handed out candles to participants, mostly local residents, joined by some members of the Pakistani community coming in from nearby Cambridge as well as further afield, like Dr Jamila Khalil, an ethnic Pushtun, who is with the Association of Pakistan Physicians of New England (APPNE), a former Charlestown resident. She drove about an hour from the suburb where she now lives, bringing her two teenage children to the event.

She said she had organised this vigil to show solidarity with Malala Yusufzai, and to pray or meditate for her quick recovery.

Michael Semple at the Boston vigil: “It’s a simple moral issue. It’s wrong to shoot a 14 year old girl.”

Flowers for Malala at Bunker Hill.

“Swat is not the wild west,” said Michael Semple, the Irishman married to a Pakistani who is a fluent Pushto speaker and attended the vigil along with his father who is visiting. “It is known for its tranquillity and beauty. Its people are cultured, peaceful and educated. I have taken my father there many times to visit.”

Semple, currently a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and has long worked on issues related to militancy in the area. “I was there in 2009 when the Taliban takeover began, and later when the army drove out the Taliban.”

“But why are they targeting girls? Why are they afraid of her?” asked a perplexed man, holding a small dog.

“Terror tactics,” replied Semple. “The first move of these militants is to target schools, close education, and build upon old conservative ideas giving fraudulent religious reasons. They’re not individually frightened of this girl, but she spoke out, and they used her to target others. This is about tyranny versus rights. It’s time to show solidarity and that’s why I’m so touched that so many of you have come out there today for that purpose.”

The bottom line, as he said, was that it is a simple moral issue: “It is wrong to shoot a 14-year old girl. Even if she survives, she has been robbed of her childhood.”

Cheryl Hammond: “Our voice is her voice now.”

A Pakistani student at the vigil spoke passionately about the need for the army to do its job against the militants, holding that “those soldiers whom the Taliban killed are shaheed (martyrs).”

“We will not allow violence against women and girls,” said Cheryl Hammond, who works with a health care plan in Boston. “Our voice is her voice now.” She added that she is sick of violence being done to children because of who they are, everywhere in the world.

Several young children came to the vigil to voice their support for Malala.

She added that she is sick of violence being done to children because of who they are, everywhere in the world.

“I hope she feels better,” said one little girl holding a candle. “I hope she doesn’t die.”

“And was she wise to speak out?” an adult asked her.

“Yes,” replied the child firmly.

One Response

  1. An excerpt from the book ‘The People of the Path’ which was I just reading’:
    People are so fake because it pays, it is a good policy. If you are true, you will be in danger. You can be true only in a true society where truth is respected, loved. This society exists through lies. Here truth is not respected, here truth is crucified, here truth is killed. Lies are enthroned. That’s why politics becomes so important in this world – because politics is the game of lies. And the politicians become the most important people in the world. They should be the last. They become the first because this world – this whole society – is based on lies. And if you live with liars and you will live
    with this falsehood all around you, you have to be fake. It pays, it is economical, it is safe. It protects you – otherwise people will be against you. If you are true and they are all living through lies, they cannot tolerate you.
    From the very beginning a child starts learning that lies pay. If the child tells the truth, he is beaten; if the child tells the truth, it creates a kind of embarrassment for the parents. If the child is being truthful, nobody is for him, everybody is against him. If he is Lying, then he can protect himself. A lie becomes a kind of umbrella. And if he is Lying in tune with the parents’ lies, then there is no problem at all. He can exist very smoothly. And children are very perceptive, sensitive; they learn whatsoever they see around.
    Sufis: The People of the Path, Vol 2 90 Osho


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