Below, some of the widespread condemnation and protest vigils against the cowardly murder of human rights activist and upholder of free speech Sabeen Mahmud, shot dead in Karachi on the night of April 24, 2015 after she hosted a conversation on human rights violations in Balochistan. Just published: Tanqeed’s partial transcript of the discussion. No, Sabeen was not a separatist, nor did she condone violence by anyone, whether in the name of nationalism, ethnicity, religion, or honour. She was a firm believer in open, civil dialogue. The best tribute we can pay to her is to keep her legacy alive by continuing to speak up and keep the dialogue going.
Statement by Malala Yousafzai on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, April 25, 2015
LUMS STATEMENT on Sabeen Mahmud’s murder, April 25, 2015
HRCP shocked at T2F director’s murder, demands justice, April 25, 2015
Target Killing of Sabeen Mahmud: WAF Statement, 25 April 2015
SAHR Statement of Concern on the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, South Asians for Human Rights, April 27, 2015
Karachi citizens press release, April 28, 2015
Report from Lahore rally for Sabeen, April 28, 2015
“I condemn the tragic killing of a Pakistani hero, courageous human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud. My heart goes out to Sabeen’s family and friends. I wish Sabeen’s mother a speedy recovery from her wounds. I call on authorities to arrest the perpetrators of this crime and to protect Pakistan’s human rights and peace activists, especially those facing death threats. Rest in peace, Sabeen.”
Malala Yousafzai is a student, co-founder of the Malala Fund and Nobel Peace Prize laureate 2014
From concerned members of LUMS faculty and student body
— Salaar Khan (@Brainmasalaar) April 27, 2015
Last night, we heard the shocking news of Sabeen Mahmud’s callous murder in Karachi following a debate on Balochistan. The debate, held at T2F, was entitled “Unsilencing Balochistan – Take 2”. As is now well known, this session was inspired by a roundtable on Balochistan to be held at LUMS on 9 April with the same title and same guests, but banned at the eleventh hour by state agencies.
While at this stage there is no direct evidence linking her murder to the Balochistan debate, the coincidence is chilling. It certainly contributes to further suppressing of any open and democratic debate on Balochistan. Concerned LUMS faculty and students express their deepest grief for the loss of a courageous, brave woman, whose only “crime” was to defend constitutional rights, most notably freedom of expression. We unreservedly condemn her targeted assassination, and call on the state to promptly investigate the circumstances and author(s) of her murder.
Concerned LUMS faculty and students see this murder as yet another evidence of the silencing of any and all dissident voices in Pakistan, and the stifling of public space. We reiterate their unwavering support for human rights guaranteed by the very constitution of Pakistan. Freedom of expression and of assembly, and the right to freely discuss issues of national importance, are not privileges granted to a few: they are the rights of all.
Five bullets in Karachi will not silence what Sabeen Mahmud stood for, nor will it weaken our resolve to defend and uphold human rights, or our commitment to justice for all in Pakistan.
Lahore, 25 April 2015.
We the concerned citizens for peace held a meeting at the Karachi Press Club on 28th April to protest the assassination of Sabeen Mahmud, a champion for love, peace and free speech.
Sabeen was brutally gunned down on the evening of April 24th soon after she had hosted a talk titled ‘Unsilencing Balochistan: Take 2’.
The people demand justice for Sabeen and that her killers be arrested and brought to trial.
The participants at the meeting also decided on holding a series of protests, first of which will be held on 30th April outside Karachi Press Club at 4 pm.
A series of protests will take place every evening from 8-9 pm at Teen Talwar.
We appeal to all those who believe in justice and peace and are concerned about the violence in the city to participate in large numbers!
The Women’s Action Forum (WAF) expresses its deep and heartfelt grief at the target killing of peace and rights activist Sabeen Mahmud in Karachi on 24th April 2015.
WAF is outraged at yet another target killing of a brave and courageous human rights defender in Pakistan. WAF strongly condemns the dastardly, cowardly act. We express our deepest sympathies with Sabeen’s mother, who was shot and wounded in the same incident, and is hospitalized. We pray for her early recovery.
WAF strongly condemns the law enforcing authorities for failing to .protect Sabeen, who had informed them of the threats she had been receiving. How many more lives will be silenced before any action is taken?
Sabeen Mahmud was a strong supporter of WAF, through her ‘PeaceNiche’ at T2F. Her alleged ‘’crime’’ was that she gave people the opportunity to think, she provided space for dialogue and human interaction; she opened their eyes to political issues, to music, art, other forms of culture, to political and human rights. She helped promote secular, progressive and rational thought. She encouraged intellectual discussion and academic debate, versus the violent alternative. She was an inspiration to countless activists, and a role model for the younger generation who flocked to T2F. For all this, and for her brave activism, her voice, like that of so many others, has been brutally silenced.
On the day of her target killing, Sabeen’s activism was well in evidence, when she organized and hosted a discussion on the Balochistan issue titled “Unsilencing Balochistan”, and invited Mama Qadeer Baloch and his colleagues from the VoBMP group. Earlier, this seminar was forcibly cancelled at the Lahore private university LUMS, but Sabeen did not accept such undemocratic curbs on academic freedom and the spirit of inquiry.
Voices for Human Rights, for freedom of expression, for free thinking, for academic and intellectual debate, are being systematically and ruthlessly silenced in Pakistan. The list of those killed or attempted killings is growing longer and women are no exception.
WAF demands that clear, prompt, visible, effectual and bona fide actions be immediately taken to stop such target killings, especially of human rights defenders, to restore a small measure of Pakistani citizens’ confidence in the State and to restore citizens’ fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Constitution.
We have not forgotten Parween Rehman, Rashid Rehman, and our many other silenced comrades, and we will not forget Sabeen Mahmud. We will not let the State forget them either. We will not be silenced.
Dozens of political and trade union activists, civil society organisations and concerned citizens of Pakistan convened in front of the Lahore Press Club on Tuesday to reaffirm their commitment to continue Sabeen Mahmood’s mission of open dialogue, pluralism, secularism and humanity.
In a statement about the event, the Awami Workers Party, representing the progressives and leftists of Pakistan, said that taking forward Sabeen’s work includes continuing to hold conversations about Balochistan and enable free flow of ideas and information through constant dialogue and speaking out about issues like the gross violations of human rights in Balochistan and elsewhere.
Addressing the demonstration, AWP finance secretary Shazia Khan said Sabeen’s killing was only the most recent example of the silencing of progressive voices that have dared to speak about the plight of the oppressed classes and nationalities in Pakistan. Intellectuals like Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib and leftist activists like Hasan Nasir and Abdul Rehman have in the past suffered the wrath of the powers-that-be for raising their voices for democracy, freedom of expression and civil liberties for all peoples and nationalities of Pakistan. She said the military establishment needs to learn from their past experiences and realise that its attempts to suppress such voices would never bear any fruit.
AWP general secretary Farooq Tariq highlighted the need for progressives to join hands in the struggle for promotion of civil liberties and political rights in the country. He criticised the leadership of major political parties for their failure to protect civilian supremacy. He said the series of events in the wake of the Peshawar attack like the establishment of military courts show that the civilian leadership in the country has completely surrendered its authority to the military establishment. The most recent example of this complete surrender of authority by the civilians is the passing of the Cyber Crimes Bill by the national assembly committee. “The bill proposes incriminates political speech and expression on the social media,” he said.
Bushra Khaliq said social movements have been allied with progressive forces from day one to secure political rights and liberties for the people. She said Sabeen Mahmud’s sacrifice should serve as a warning to the progressives that they could struggle against the oppressive state elite only through unity in their ranks. Samson Salamat, Hasham Bin Rashid and Zahid Pervaiz were among those who spoke at the occasion.
The protestors demanded a fair and impartial investigation of Sabeen Mahmud’s assassination. They said an investigation that ended in fixing the responsibility on na maloom afraad (unidentified persons) would be unacceptable to Pakistan’s progressive and leftist forces. They vowed to continue to hold demonstrations and occupy the streets until the perpetrators were exposed and brought to justice.